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][ KanO][

Meet 19-year-old Kane ‘ Kano’ Robinson: garage’s lyricist laureate, the MC’s MC, the street poet who knows it, a pirate frequency all of his own amid the scramble of the national garage airspace. A key member in East London’s reigning N.A.S.T.Y. Crew, he has talent, credibility and vision.
And there’s time for a lot more, beginning with headline billing as Most Requested spitter on garage’s underground circuit he trialled as centre-forward for Chelsea and Norwich as a schoolkid, and then cruised through graphic design courses on the back of nine GCSES to win a place at Greenwich University, which he then spurned – music’s gain is very much academia and sport’s loss. He is native and resident of East Ham in far-East London, where garage is less a sounds than a way of life.
For someone who’s making career out of hyperspeed chat, he’s surprisingly quiet. Where others front, Kanoreflects. His timing is nanosecond perfect. As a schoolkid he didn’t approach garage with the blind zeal of the evangelist, he ‘eased into it.’
‘It was a mess-about really,’ he says. ‘Most of my friends in the playground would be battling each other. My brother got decks when he was 16, then I started in writing lyrics and making tapes in my bedroom, and started making beats on my computer, and then made a couple of songs.’
‘I used to just listen to what was going on round here’, he explains. ‘My family is Jamaican, so I was also into Bounty Killer, Shabba and Buju Banton. I saw Elephant Man and Vibes Kartel in Jamaica. You can learn off them, the way they perform: the crowd just have to get into it. They give you a performance. They’re entertainers.’
The quiet ambition Kano nurtured between his bedroom walls paid off almost instantly. At 16, when he was still looking up to D Double E, the one-man garage industry who heads up eastside contenders N.A.S.T.Y Crew, he delivered ‘Boys Love Girls’ - a treatise on the politics of the sexual playground expressed in the language the playground best understands. As Dizzee’s ‘I Luv U’ and Wiley’s chilly ‘Igloo’ and ‘Ice Rink’ single were standardising UK garage’s next genetic strain, the wavering melody lines and panic-button riddim of ‘Boys Love Girls’ gained a steady footing on the underground.
‘I was 16 when I did Boys Love Girls,’ Kano reflects. ‘When I made that I wasn’t even into it properly. I just made it and didn’t know what it was gonna do. It introduced me into this whole thing. And that’s how people heard me first. It’s my signature – I still spit that lyric at raves.’
Kano’s game plan is clear – he’s enjoying himself, and it’s a safe bet a spin of ‘Ps & Qs’ or new ‘Typical Me’ will mean you will too. It may be a long way off, but if The Streets-style fame comes knocking on his door, Kano’s tactics would be true to his rectitude.
‘Fame would piss me off, I reckon,’ he concludes. ‘I bet Mike wishes he could sell as many records but not be so famous. Your face is just blatant and everyone knows who you are. It must be a nightmare… I’d probably stay indoors a lot. Some people get into this for the fame. I don’t. I just want to do it for the music.’


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