Much of the criticism for Kano’s Method to the Madness centred around Kano’s perceived need to be more open and emotional, and deviate his subject matter from typical rap subject matter of sex and braggadocio. As such, Kano has been promoting Made in the Manor as “the most honest I’ve ever been on an album”. However, from the moment Rustie’s hair metal guitars enter the mix on opener Hail, it’s clear that Kano is approaching reflection in a delightfully individualistic way.
Grime has been undergoing something of a resurgence over the past year, and as someone who could have once been argued as the prince of the genre, Kano is expertly riding that wave in Made in the Manor, positing himself as an elder statesman, but managing to sound fresh and intimidating nonetheless. On the aforementioned Hail, he opens the album with the lines “welcome to the jungle / king of this s**t, royal blood, welcome to the rumble”, but later on in the song he acknowledges his own genre’s fall from popular favour – “they say grime’s not popping like it was back then”. He’s contemplative, but in his own aggressive, bombastic way.
Another enjoyable facet of Kano is his unapologetic English style. On T-Shirt Weather in the Manor he raps and ode to London in summer over a housey piano beat. However, the third verse, switches out the beat, dropping the drums, as Kano starts to talk about how many of his friends from his youth have ended up in prison, resenting him for his supposed wealth, in spite of him only being a modestly successful artist – “send mi likkle VO, gwan sit with them / send them one two creps and Ralph Lauren / while they build this picture that I’m 50 Cent”. Lead single 3 Wheel-Ups sees Kano paying homage to his Grime forebears, whilst building himself up – “me and Wiley had a clash, that’s a real MC”.
The overall effect of this contrast between bombast and reflection is an album that functions as somewhat of a backhanded apology, in the best possible way. Kano has expanded his lyrical and sonic palette, but on his own terms, retaining his masterful flow and dense lyricism, whilst working with exciting new collaborators, like Rustie. Whilst not every song on the album is up to the same standard, Made in the Manor is an excellent comeback for one of Britain’s most consistent MCs.