British rapper Kano emerged during the mid-2000s as one of the most skilled MCs associated with the fledgling grime scene, then continued to grow artistically as well as commercially over the coming decades.
Drawing from U.K. pirate radio as well as American rap, he possesses a dense, articulate rhyming style, ably switching between serious and light-hearted lyrical subjects with ease. First establishing his name with underground hits such as 2004's "P's and Q's," he made his full-length debut the following year with Home Sweet Home, one of grime's fundamental early releases. Following the more commercial 2007 effort London Town, Kano guested on tracks by artists such as Gorillaz and Chase & Status while releasing several underground mixtapes and independent albums in addition to pursuing his acting career. After a lengthy gap between albums, he returned in 2016 with the U.K. Top Ten-charting, MOBO-winning Made in the Manor.
Kane Brett Robinson was born in East Ham, London in 1985. Prior to becoming known in the U.K. mainstream as a solo artist, he was a member of N.A.S.T.Y. Crew, which also included future grime stars Jammer, D Double E, and Ghetts. His first single, "Boys Love Girls," was an underground hit that served as a springboard for his solo deal with the Warner-supported 679 Recordings. The 2004 track "P's & Q's," produced by DaVinche, was his first release for the label. "Typical Me," a collaboration with Fraser T. Smith, was issued the following February, reached number 22 on the U.K. pop chart, and set up the highly acclaimed, moderately successful Home Sweet Home, an album that also involved productions from Diplo, Mike Skinner (aka the Streets), and Paul Epworth. He subsequently took the 2005 MOBO Award for Best Newcomer. Kano and Smith worked even closer together on London Town, a 2007 follow-up propelled by the number 18 U.K. pop hit "This Is the Girl," featuring Craig David.
The MC went independent with the less commercial 140 Grime Street (2008) and Method to the Maadness (2010), albums that nonetheless reached the Top 50 as he sustained his profile with appearances on tracks by Chase & Status, Gorillaz, and Lethal Bizzle. After several other collaborations and mixtapes, as well as roles in the film Tower Block and the first two seasons of the Channel 4 series Top Boy, a deal with Parlophone enabled the release of the fifth proper Kano album, Made in the Manor, in 2016. The release was his biggest success to date, reaching number eight and winning Best Album at the 2016 MOBO Awards. The rapper returned in 2019 with sixth album Hoodies All Summer, previewed by singles "Trouble" and "Class of Deja." ~ Vincent Thomas & Andy Kellman