Kane Brett Robinson (born 21 May 1985 in East Ham, Newham, London, England), better known as Kano, is a grime MC from East Ham, Newham, East London, and has gained wider attention after his debut album Home Sweet Home. His decision to make grime music, and eventually other types of music as well, was vindicated since, in his younger years, he was a promising footballer representing Chelsea F.C., West Ham United, and Norwich City F.C by the age of thirteen. His cousins Jonathan Fortune and Clayton Fortune play for Charlton Athletic and Darlington F.C respectively. Kano first became known on the UK grime scene for his work with his original group, N.A.S.T.Y Crew.
MCing in the underground scene on Flava F.M. as a youth, after a couple of years he was scooped up by N.A.S.T.Y Crew (Natural Artistic Sounds Touching You). N.A.S.T.Y Crew was founded by Marcus Nasty with the original and most popular line up consisting of Kano, Jammer, D Double E, Ghetto, Stormin , Mak 10, Sharky Major & Hyper . N.A.S.T.Y Crew had one of the most popular shows on pirate radio station Deja Vu on Monday nights from 8pm to 10pm, the sets featuring established and up and coming special guests such as Dizzee Rascal, Durrty Goodz, Wiley etc. Kano used the crews underground popularity as a springboard, left N.A.S.T.Y., got signed as a solo artist and began work on his debut solo album "Home Sweet Home".
His first solo track was "Boys Love Girls", which was produced in 2002, but was later taken to a studio and remastered by Dizzee Rascal. In 2004, Kano was approached by Hugo Boss to model for their Spring/Summer collection, but declined in order to begin recording and touring commitments. Shortly afterwards Kano released his debut solo single, "P's & Q's", on a 12" vinyl only release, which was a massive underground hit, marking Kano out as a rising star.
In 2005 Kano released his second single, "Typical Me" - basically his first full single release. "Typical Me" reached #22 in the UK Singles Charts. It remains Kano's highest charting single to date. The video for 'Typical Me' was directed by Andy Hylton. The third single, "Remember Me", fared less well in the charts, only reaching #71. Two weeks later, on 27 June 2005, Kano's highly anticipated debut album Home Sweet Home was released. The week his album was released, it was the highest new entry, debuting inside the UK top 40 at #36. In September 2005, the fourth single "Nite Nite" was released, featuring Leo the Lion and The Streets. "Nite Nite" hit #25 in the UK charts, spending six weeks altogether on the top 75.
Shortly after the release of "Nite Nite", a promotional video for "Reload It", which featured live performance clips and backstage footage, was released to UK video station, Channel U to promote the album further. In December 2005, Kano released a remixed version of album track "Nobody Don't Dance No More" featuring new artist Katie Pearl, as a download-only single. The track was also featured as a b-side on CD: 2 of "Nite Nite". On March 13, 2006 Kano released the fifth and final single from the album, a double A-side of "Brown Eyes" and "Signs In Life". The single was released on a vinyl format only, and included a free sticker, which made it ineligible for chart inclusion.
Home Sweet Home gained Gold status in the UK. Home Sweet Home was a great critical success, well reviewed across the British press, most notably in The Independent and The Observer, two of the UK's major newspapers. Many artists in the UK and in America have expressed positive views of the album, including Busta Rhymes, Nas, RZA, Jay-Z, Andre 3000 and Chuck D of Public Enemy.
In 2005, Kano was nominated for 4 MOBO (Music of Black Origin) Awards, winning the award for Best Newcomer. He also won an award at the first Channel U "Best of British" Awards. On New Years Eve 2005, Kano was announced as one of "London's Heroes of 2005" by Mayor of London Ken Livingstone. He was also nominated for a BRIT Award for Best Urban Act in January 2006. Kano is a playable character in the game Def Jam: Icon, the only British person to have yet been featured.
Towards the end of 2005, Kano released a mixtape, Beats & Bars, which was only made available at his concerts. This included underground hits and showcased Kano's ability to rap over hip hop beats and grime instrumentals.
On 23 March 2006 Kano performed at Anson Rooms in Bristol for MTV2's Spanking New Music along with JME, N-Dubz and Unklejam. He performed tracks such as "London Town", "P's & Q's", "Brown Eyes", "Me & My Mic" and tracks from the new mixtape. Kano confirmed on the show that his next album was to be called "London Town".
Kano's music was also featured on Run the Road, a compilation containing sixteen tracks of the best of 2004's grime music. The compilation included contributions from other popular grime artists as well, including Wiley, Dizzee Rascal, and Lady Sovereign. Kano performed a verse on the track, "Destruction VIP," and was featured on three other tracks, including "P's and Q's." Kano has been hailed as one of the artists particularly standing out on Run the Road due to his seemingly effortless rapping skills.
Before his second album, London Town, was released, Kano put out a mixtape (simply called 'Mixtape' on the front cover) for promotion. This included new material such as I Write Bars Till The Milkman Comes, the track Layer Cake (inspired by the film Layer Cake) and also Kano's own versions of hip hop songs including Jay-Z's Public Service Announcement, Nas's Black Republican and Kanye West's My Way Home. The mixtape also included a preview of Buss It Up, a song which featured on the later release London Town.
London Town was released on September 10, 2007, preceded by the single, "This Is The Girl", featuring Craig David, on August 27. Along with Craig David the album features collaborations with Gorillaz member Damon Albarn (of Blur), Kate Nash, and Vybz Kartel.
After the release of the album, Kano toured the UK as well as performing the whole album at the Jazz Cafe in October 2007 alongside a live band. Kano also sold out London Astoria in the same month to put on an entertaining show also promoting Tinchy Stryder on his tour.
In 2008, Kano no longer was signed to 679 Recordings and had posted all new freestyles on his Myspace page. Soon after, in April, he released a mixtape called Mc No. 1 for fans before his third album 140 Grime Street hit the shelves. Despite the fact that Kano had said he wanted to go back to making grime music for 140 Grime Street, in MC No. 1 he used all American hip hop beats for the songs, yet it was still well received by fans.
140 Grime Street was released on 29 September 2008 through BPM (Bigger Picture Music). The majority of the album was produced by Mikey J, with Wiley and DaVinChe supplying two beats each, and Skepta handing the production for the song These MC's. The album featured guest appearances from Ghetto, Skepta, Wiley, and Mikey J. The first single released was Hustler.
In 2009, Kano released a non-album single, "Rock N Rolla", first premiered on Radio 1xtra DJ, Mista Jam's radio show.
A second non-album release from Kano is called "More Than One Way" that had another premier on Mista Jam's 1xtra radio show. The video was also released on Kano's official YouTube page. The track was written for a campaign to promote the Diploma and was given away for free exclusively from The Diploma website. The music video was made with the help of Diploma students from all around the country. The TV ad shows Kano walking through a crowd of students whose Diploma qualifications pop up in bubbles above them. The tasks students helped with on the video related to the course they were studying for. Creative and media students helped in producing the video and construction students helped make the set. Kano said in interview for the Sunday Times that he wanted to "inspire people, but not in a way that's patronising and preachy".
Kano provides vocals on the third Gorillaz studio album, Plastic Beach. He collaborates with fellow British rapper Bashy on the track "White Flag".
Kano's 4th album, "Method To The Maadness", was released on 30 August 2010 and charted in the UK Albums Chart at number 45 making it the rappers fourth successive album to chart within the Top 50. Lead single "Upside" (featuring Michelle Breeze) was released on 23 August 2010.