I’ve Lived This: Kano’s Fire In The Booth Session and 21st Century Biography

Kano’s seven-and-a-half-minute Fire in The Booth posted today is attracting acclaim on social media, and you can see why: the performance would have looked impressive in any form, but to pull it off in a single take is pretty unusual, as Charlie Sloth says at the end.

Music can be overburdened by intellectual analysis, but if you listen to this in the context of the debate about what biographical writing should/could be in the era of self-documentation on social media, you have to wonder if it shouldn’t be covered on newspapers’ literary pages rather than those for music. I can’t think of anything else so adept at using popular references, and capturing the way in which brand names and celebrities have become a part of common speech.

There’s the reporting, which in recent years has disappeared from most mainstream and independent British music:

Too black for DSTRKT but the money too pinkish
So they’ll turn a non-colour blind eye for our business
So we can get in long as we’re spending like niggas?
Just as long as we don’t bring our sisters
£2K table in the club, Ikea for the kitchen
But know that the sparklers is a mad ting

But the impact owes as much to the basic textures and vocabulary, as in the rhyme of father and Balenciaga here:

You can’t evaluate my worth, leave that talk in the barbers
Guess overestimating gets a stink’s dick hard
And you want man to be your bredrin, your gyal and your father?
Stand on your own fucking two Balenciagas
You got the blue suedes, now what’d you need from me today?

And the use of Kanye, Prince and Linford here:

So still pinch myself that I’ve lived this
Life of a non-millionaire cause I’m gifted
Kanye moment coming up, I’m Prince sick
That so-called fans jumping back on my Linford

And then Gareth Southgate:

Touch mic, I leng down dance, I’m Mr Leng
Every time you see me, a new one, I’m Mr Benz
Why you putting pressure on the game like this again?
I had a Gareth Southgate couple summers, I’ve missed the pen

“‘Home Sweet Home’ was my ‘Off the Wall'” he says at one point, referring to his 2005 debut album, “But still, I’ve got a ‘Thriller’ in me, everybody warned”. On this showing, you might suspect he’s right.