The first thing to note is that for anyone who knows Kano and has heard his first album, this is quite different from his first album release 'London Town'.
It seems to be the case these days that most artists releasing a second album usually show a kind of maturity in the music in their second album, and I think this is true of Kano.
I personally felt that this album had a lot of thought put into it and its sound, and is quite unique amongst a genre which can produce some very similar music, that genre being grime. I think this album moves away from the tradition grime sound, even to the extent that you might not call this second release grime.
The first few listens of this album were OK. I'd say this one is an album that will grow on you. I didn't find anything particularly outstanding upon first listen, but then again, its rare that I do with any music I hear. It certainly did grow on me though. I think its important that you actually listen to what the lyrics say. From East Ham Kano offers a lot of views throughout the album on the state of London life these days, mentioning guns and such similar matters, on many occasions. There is definitely a message he's trying to bring through with songs such as 'Fighting the Nation' and 'Sleep Tight'.
I think artists deserve credit for trying to send out messages with responsibility, mainly because its the youngsters on London's streets who are dealing with the issues Kano mentions and may look up to him and take his message as guide. Whether this is actually the case, I don't know, but theres certainly credit due for Kano even attempting to get such messages across.
As previously mentioned the album definitely takes a different direction from his first album release. Some of the songs are slower, but if you listen closely to his words, there is still meaning.
I think your opinion on this album all depends on your situation and circumstance, and depends on what your listening to it for. If you enjoyed the first album for its grime roots and faster pace, you probably won't like this one as much. If you enjoyed the first album for its content and context, then you can enjoy this one too. Being born and bred in London as well, I find alot of the issues that Kano mentions important.
There are some good star appearances on this album such as Craig David, Damon Albarn from Gorillaz and Kate Nash. There are some unique songs too.
Overally I really enjoyed this album, but maybe more for its message than its musical content. Don't get me wrong, I think the songs are good, but as far as that is concerned, I think Home Sweet Home did a better job there.
Still, hats off to Kano, he's using his position to get a message out there, and thats respectable. Not a bad album by all means, but definitely a step in a different direction.
Kano, born Kane Brett Robinson, returns for his second album and the follow up to 2005's 'Home Sweet Home' with 'London Town'. Born on the 21st May 1985, Kano is another British star that brought grime to the masses along with Dizzee Rascal, and with that Kano has became the second biggest star for his genre, however being a big star in his specific area has its downfalls as people are more critical of his work and are likely to be more drawn to the independant artists, a tag that Kano can no longer carry with his larger budget.
Featuring twelve tracks, it is reasonable to expect that there shall be some standout tracks that just need to be released as singles. So far the only named single from London Town is 'This is the Girl' featuring Craig David. Hearing this before hearing the rest of the album, I thought Kano was going to hit back hard as the tone of the song worked great as a love song, something that Kano has always excelled at. The single also marked the comeback of Craig David, who featured a much grimier look in the video and showed that Craig David could suit a new direction - because his harmonys over the top of the track work wonders. Unfortunately this is the best track on the album, and I'm not just saying that because I have heard it over and over, this track had instant appeal that drew you to it.
With the exception of 'This is the Girl', there is only one other track on the album that runs for under three minutes and that is 'Me & My Microphone' featuring Kate Nash. I'm not a Kate Nash fan at all, and I think she's a poor excuse of a Lily Allen - and how many people have got bored of Lily already. The fact that the track is a more suitable 3.35 length could be an indication that this is going to be the second single, and I have heard it getting some radio airplay although I think they're still testing the water for it and nothing has been set in stone yet. The track is very upbeat and wouldn't nessacarilly make you think it is by who it is. I feel the beginning is more suited to being played in a car in the warm weather though, rather than this upcoming winter, although I suppose we're only just getting our summer. It's quite cheesy really, and works better as a mainstream song rather than something staying true to Kano, although there are factors in there for diehard Kano fans, and I enjoyed his reference to The Game at the beginning of the track saying - 'It was all a dream'.
Another track I was really looking forward to hearing after how well Craig David performed on the released single was 'Bad Boy', once again featuring Craig. One of the better tracks on the album, and another lesson of Craig David hitting his notes. 'Production of my Environment' has also started to get to me as a song I can listen to, but that's mainly because it's the first track on the album so everytime I put it on in my car I automatically listen to it before actually realising I'm playing any music. 'London Town' is also the name of a track on the album, which has a live feel about it, and 'Buss It Up' is another alright song, but once again I must mention that they are track two and three on the album so it could just be a matter of if you listen to every song on this album enough you'll start having an appeal to it.
I think it's when you get to track five and 'Fightin The Nation' that people really begin to question Kano's direction on the album, as it starts all acoustically and 'singing' about guns and amunition. 'Sleep Tight' is also an incredibly slow song, and I'm not sure that it even works well as a love inn kind of song. Overall I think it is pretty much decided that this is a disappointment, although it does have that factor that it was worth while listening to, and whilst those fans that liked Kano from the start might not appreciate some of his work on this album there are maybe some tracks that will help Kano grab a new audiance, and maybe that is what he was trying to achieve with some songs with a new sound.
Disc #1 Tracklisting
2 London Town
3 Buss It Up
4 Bad Boy
5 Fightin' The Nation
6 Feel Free - Kano & Damon Albarn
7 Sleep Tight
8 This Is The Girl - Kano & Craig David
9 Me And My Microphone - Kano & Kate Nash
10 Over And Over
11 This Is My Life (Thin Line)
12 MC Grime