#tbt: it’s 2004 and in dizzee’s wake, all eyes have turned to london’s grime scene. introducing kano and d double e
It's safe to say that these days grime is not only ruling supreme in the UK, but making a big impression across the pond too. Now considered godfather of the genre and on the verge of blessing the world with his long-awaited Made In The Manor LP, Kano was once a new kid on the block. Throwback to 2004 when, aged 20, recently signed and about to drop Ps & Qs, i-D featured him alongside 24-year-old D double E, who would also go down in music history. Throwback to the early days with this classic conversation courtesy of Chantelle Fiddy…
Kano... and able
When Kane Robinson signed his debut record deal on his 19th birthday, he secured himself the title of the most eligible bachelor in London and the tag 'Usher of the grime scene' in the process. As his MC moniker Kano, he outshines most of his fellow grime MCs in a quick minute with a lyrical content and flow that's about as unpredictable as the chances of Pete Doherty turning up to a Libertines gig. Girls love him, teenage boys want to be him, but as yet there's been little hype. Perched on the wall outside the home he shares with his mum and brother, Kano elaborates: "At 16, Dizzee did I Luv U. At the same time I produced and wrote the most important track of my career so far, Boys Love Girls. I think because I was part of a big crew, it meant I never had that mad hype. Dizzee was always just Dizzee Rascal." Drafted into one of grime's biggest crews, NASTY (Natural Artistic Sounds Touching You), Kano went on to headline at raves across the country, prompting Wiley, Shystie and The Streets to use him as a guest MC. With his debut album well underway, Kano promises a few sonic surprises. "It's very experimental. None of us just do grime. I would never say 'I'm a grime artist', I say 'I've risen through the garage scene'. The worst thing Wiley's ever done is made that tune Wot U Call It? I swear that's the worst question I get asked." But Wiley is one person who is aiding in heating up tongues while we await new Kano material. If you thought 8 Mile was the best for lyrical beef, then watch Kano effectively eat Wiley alive on the Lord Of The Mics, Battle Arena DVD. "I was only 17 when I did that. you know," Kano laughs. "He was trying to win the clash. I like Wiley, but you get what I'm saying - lyrically, I think people will say I won." It's make your mind up time.
D double E... easy as 1,2,3
Despite not cutting the grades at school, 24-year-old MC D Double E's lyric books have seen him hailed as a modern day, street-smart Sartre. Building his profile at raves and on pirate radio, the 'Newham General' details a street philosophy that plays out false childhood conceptions and illusion-ridden lifestyles. In many ways, DEE has been a victim of his own success. On his home turf of Forest Gate, East London, he's a hero with cult status. Walking down the road, kids point him out, shouting his catch- phrase, "ooh, ooh, it's me, me". It's these supposed gimmick lyrics that bring raves to a standstill, with fans nearing hyperventilation. "I just did it one day, made my voice echo on the mic and it stuck," he explains. "I'll walk into a dance and all I can hear is 'ooh, ooh.' It's a big feeling, trust me. I mean, I was ahead of my time, I'm still doing lyrics now that I wrote at 15." Having battled his way for the last ten years, from jungle through to grime, it's since parting with NASTY Crew last year that his authority within the underground scene has become uncontestable. "Thirty MC's on a set, it's going to be good," he says of that time, "but what can you do on your own? I know what I can do, I was on radio when these youths were all locked in their yards on curfew." As his verbals have grown with his stature, so have his strides into mainstream territory. Set to feature on the B-side of the next Dizzee Rascal single Stand Up Tall, recognition outside of the urban territories is long overdue. Let buzz be the judge.
Text Chantelle Fiddy
Photography Tim and Barry
This interview originally ran in i-D's The Unique Issue, No. 248, October 2004.