It’s a sign of the times that the recent grime ‘revival’ has brought plenty of brilliant songs, but, as yet, no classic albums.
The rapper, born Kane Robinson, certainly knows a thing or two about classic grime records. Over a decade ago he released Home Sweet Home, and recent rowdy anniversary gigs showed it influenced a generation, and hasn’t aged a bit. Made In The Manor is its equal.
"Flow Of The Year", "3 Wheels Up", "This Is England" and "Garage Skank" match "Ps & Qs" and "Typical Me" for energy and bravado, and with the more reflective songs Kano, now 30, is more perceptive than nearly any other UK rapper around.
Over a superb beat on "T-Shirt Weather In The Manor" he says: "They say the endz love you / then they hate you / then they love you again / then you try an’ change your postcode to W10". On the melancholy Damon Albarn-collaboration "Deep Blues" he meditates on the violence, drugs and tragedy that has affected friends, while "Strangers" and "Lil Sis" are remarkably honest.
Across the album Kano drops wonderfully British references like Wagon Wheels, fish ’n’ chips and, er, TOWIE. They’re lines that would sound forced delivered, say, by Lethal Bizzle or Giggs, but bundles of charm and THAT flow mean the lyrics work on MITM.
As with Home Sweet Home, which helped introduce the pop world to Paul Epworth, Diplo and Fraser T Smith, the production from Rustie, Fraser and Swiftahbeat is broad and banging. It peaks on the Gorillaz-meets-Major Lazer-meets-Jamie xx final track "My Sound".
MITM is an album with depth, and will please both hardcore grime-heads and casual fans. You’d have to be mad in the manor not to love it.