60 Seconds With KanoOctober 6, 2016
Over the past decade, grime in the UK has reached stratospheric levels of popularity, not the least influenced by Kano, one of the big-name rappers leading the pack. Commencing his music career at the dawn of the millennium, his verses have captured the attention of both rap fans and non-rap fans alike. The East Ham local has been nominated for numerous awards for his fresh lyrics and beats, including four MOBOs and a BRIT award for Best Urban Act. This year, he released his album ‘Made in the Manor’, and in wake of its success, Kano speaks to us about his influences, the evolution of grime, as well as his ultimate fashion essentials.
What kind of music did you listen to growing up?
Growing up I listened to a lot of reggae, that’s all that was played in the household. A lot of dancehall music.
Any particular artists?
Well, my mum would always play Beres Hammond. But I got into Buju Banton, Beenie Man, Shabba [Ranks] and those kind of artists.
Do think that influenced the way you make music?
Yeah it definitely influenced me, because my love for dancehall music continued. When I started making albums, I think in my first album, I sampled a Sanchez song that I always used to hear at home – a classic reggae song.
Then I went on to work with dancehall artists like Vybz Kartel and Elephant Man. I’ve collaborated with dancehall artists a lot and the influence definitely comes through in my music – just in terms of my sound and the rhythms I produce.
How would you describe the evolution of the grime genre in the UK over the last few years?
A lot of artists that I started out with – like Dizzy [Rascal], Wiley, Lethal B[izzle], and Skepta – have just been chipping away over the years and making progress. I remember when it was a real East London thing at the beginning and it then spread across London, and then the UK, and to see it now going worldwide with help from a lot of the digital avenues – it’s just been amazing really. There’s been so much new talent to come through with Stormzy and that. It’s just grown so much, a lot more artists, a lot more albums.
How do you see it evolving in the future?
Just hopefully continued growth, you know, like hip-hop has. I think hip-hop in the first ten years wasn’t as big as it is now. Sometimes it just takes time for people to catch on. Things just take time really, so yeah hopefully more growth.
Who has been your favorite artist or producer to collaborate with?
I worked with Vybz Kartell and that was one of my favorite studio sessions. I’m such a big fan of his and to collaborate with him was a real moment for me. So that’s definitely up there.
If you didn’t get into music, what kind of career do you think you would have pursued?
I don’t know really, hopefully I would have found something I loved. But music is definitely my thing.
What’s your ultimate fashion essential?
At the moment my hat that I’ve got as part of my merchandise, my ENDZ cap. I tend to wear that on stage a lot. And my Adidas Ultra Boost, super comfortable, I wear them most days.
If you had to wear one outfit for a whole year, what would it look like?
It would probably be either black or grey … I’m torn between jeans and tracksuit bottoms. Jeans seem a bit more flexible because you can go out in them. So yeah, probably black pair of jeans, a comfortable tee and a hoodie. A hoodie and trainers, like a pair of [Adidas] Ultra Boost trainers. Something comfortable.
Photography by Ray Fiasco