It’s been just over 2 years since Kano dropped his album Hoodies All Summer. The album dropped around the same time Top Boy premiered on Netflix. Although this project was heard by the ears of some, I don’t think it got the attention it deserved. This isn’t just some regular album that we listen to once and never come back to. To me, this is art that will stand the test of time. To me, this album is a classic. As I go through my thoughts years later on each of these songs, I’m doing so with the goal of highlighting the brilliance in the body of work that Kano has created. I’m not from Britain but this album made me feel like I’d seen all the hardship through Kano’s eyes…so let’s talk about it.
From the jump*, you realize that there is a lot more thought going into making this album more musical as a whole. It’s not just the production or just the lyrics, all of it. This is a production that you could get only out of the UK fam. I’m here to say, that there is nothing wrong with that fam. Once you accept that this track is taking you into his world, you rate it. Not convinced though? Cool, the next track goes hard too.
Another beat where you’re like fam, I’m still not in North America but I can feel it. The same issues you see in areas within Canada and the US, happen there too. This track is hard fam. This feels like the energy you get when you listen to older grime music. The difference is the mixing on this song specifically finds a way to really create an incredible balance between the vocals and the beat. Neither of them overpowers the other to a point that it changes the experience as a listener.
Fam they put the frantic sounds of someone trying to call for an ambulance right after someone was stabbed in the middle of the song. There was such abrupt chaos, panic and shock that it genuinely throws you off as a listener for a sec. Which was the whole point. Where he’s from, you can be having a nice peaceful day and then turn the corner and get stabbed. This stuff will happen and the people that witnessed it will have to figure out continuing their day like it’s normal. It sounds wild, but it’s the actual reality of what I think is represented in the song.
Fam, this is deadass* Sully from Top Boy. Actually take that in* fam, it’s crazy. This man does both for real. This is a song that I found that I appreciated even more after seeing the video. It gave me that an enhanced understanding of what the music was already doing. Shaping a picture of the environment for his upbringing through music. It’s always dope when artists do that.
Imma be real this is a song that you can only get from someone with island heritage. This is the music of someone who really went back to their roots and channelled elements of it into their music. Another memorable chune* fam. Are you starting to see what I’m saying about how this album is just musical as a whole?
“When it rains it pours
Hoodies all summer
‘Cause teardrops from the sky
Only seem to fall on you and I”
Regardless of how you want to interpret those bars, it’s heavy. This alone and the strings at the end? Yeah nah fam, this is art yo.
This track probably has my favourite beat on the entire album. It’s got this electronic funk feel to it but it still fits right in with everything else you’ve heard from him so far on the album. This can be life being black, the only difference is it’s the perspective of someone from East London.
“They’ve seen us happy as can be
But how happy can we be?
They say good things don’t last forever
How much further can you see?”
Back to back bars fam holy. This guy went through the breakup of his life and just penned it out for us to feel where he’s coming from. If you’ve ever loved somebody and it didn’t work out, these are some of the things you reflect on in hindsight. Heavy content man.
This track right here?! Based on all the grime music I’ve heard (which is still fairly limited as a Canadian), this is one of the hardest songs fam. This beat was crazy, the verses are crazy, the delivery is crazy fam. This song is at the essence of what I know grime to be as an outside listener and that makes this song so important. Social commentary aside, what Kano does with the pen is also at the essence of what enables this album to exist.
“This ain’t for the culture, it’s for the connoisseur
This ain’t for the club, it’s for the mandem on the curb
They’re tryna take away our art, how we supposed to earn?
And express what’s in our heart, I beg you”
Are you listening to the music or breezing through it till you hear a part that excites you? You’ll only really get it if you’re listening and he makes that clear on this song. The man and the choir are yelling “suck your mum” to the oppressive system that holds firm in their country and it sounds really similar to what rappers have been saying in North America. Black people don’t like being arrested and having to riot here either. This song could only come from an artist from Britain but you can feel his sentiments throughout the world. That’s what makes this outro so powerful.
This album touches so many corners of what it can be like to be black in so many parts of the world, it’s crazy! This might sound wild but to me, it’s right there in that class with To Pimp a Butterfly in the sense of how well they capture life being black in the form of an album. At some point listening to this album, if you’re black, something struck a nerve. He wasn’t talking to everyone else, he was talking to black people from all parts of the world almost like he was having a sit-down discussion with them. It’s a perspective that I appreciate coming from any North American artist when done correctly, and if that’s my standard, then this should be celebrated equally. This album is indeed a classic.
From the Jump – from the beginning
Deadass – in all seriousness
To take in – to really understand or pay attention
Chune – a song