Home Sweet Home, for all its grandiose potency and harsh candidness, provided one of the most artistic interpretations of London’s inner-city grime culture at a time when the mainstream didn’t know what to do with it.
When Kano’s debut album dropped in 2005, grime lacked the transferability to commercial radio but was more than happy to remain in the raves, and that was fine too. Meanwhile, 20-year-old Kane Robinson from East Ham was able to transfer his sound to bigger stages without yielding his style. Home Sweet Home, which is ultimately a grime album, came with elements of rap, rock, garage and soul which, at the time, was an unusual combination for an artist of Kano’s creed.
Listeners were given an early glimpse into his ability to explore other sounds, which K-A later followed up with 2007’s London Town and 2010’s Method To The Madness. Prior to its release, grime fans were already aware of the LP’s potential: the DaVinChe-produced “P’s & Q’s” had set the tone with its distinct and unrelenting cadence, while the Diplo-produced “Reload It” shone radiantly for its pirate radio roots and nature. In contrast, the wordsmith always managed to convey a level of serenity with his more introspective outings. On songs like “Over & Over” and “Sleep Tight”, he took us on a journey through the inner workings of his mind—a side we were first introduced to on the Mikey J-produced “Sometimes”, where the prophet-like MC touched upon the amazement of his record deal whilst lamenting on the prospects of future success within the mainstream.
When we speak of Home Sweet Home’s greatness, we often do so in comparison to Dizzee’s Boy In Da Corner—which is lazy, and does both artists a disservice.
When we speak of Home Sweet Home’s greatness, we often do so in comparison to Dizzee’s Boy In Da Corner—which is lazy, and does both artists a disservice. Kano has proved time and again that his talent, and back catalogue, is formidable enough to stand on its own.
Kano’s lyrical prowess and flow may have been taken for granted—given the musical direction since his debut—but he’s always been able to rip up the template and try something new, rather than being pinned down to any one genre. With London Town, he harnessed his Jamaican roots and achieved mainstream success with the up-tempo love song “This Is The Girl”, featuring a Craig David who was trying to recapture his own star. On album number three, 140 Grime Street, he decided to give a nod to grime’s quintessential sound, after a load of remixes and freestyles over American rap beats, and it turned out to be quite the success. But on Method To The Madness, he went so far left that people weren’t sure what to label it.
Home Sweet Home is where Kano’s heart is—along with the fans who certified it Gold all those years ago—and it’s taking those early musical risks that’s made him the Top Boy MC that he is today (Benz billboards and all). A true British classic from a true British great.