Being Kano: the UK grime and Top Boy star on his rise to fame

Time Out talks to the British actor and musician

Being Kano: the UK grime and Top Boy star on his rise to fame

Pioneer of Grime, top actor – call him what you want, there’s no denying the multi-platform success Kane Brett Robinson (aka Kano) has seen since his days in the N.A.S.T.Y crew back in 2000. It’s only fitting he would come to bare his accomplishments at ON.DXB (along with a knock-out performance), and Time Out had a chance to have a chat about his time in each industry.

From promising footballer to grime artist and your starring role in Top Boy – is one medium not enough for you?
When I started making music, I knew that was what I was going to do – it’s what I love doing. That’s how it was for years and years, then one day the script for Top Boy came along and I was reluctant to get involved, because being an actor wasn’t something I ever thought about. But once I read that, I believed in it so much I ended up doing it.

Where do you find the time to juggle it all?
I can’t juggle it, you can’t do it at the same time. I thought you could when I first started out. But no, you can’t, each one if all-consuming. Even if you get a day off, your mind is in character.

Did you ever think Top Boy would do as well as it has?
I knew it would be good, real and provoking – something that we’d never seen on British TV before, but I didn’t know how diverse the audience was going to be. I knew my friends would love it as it showed places where I grew up, and I knew it would resonate with people from there. They would appreciate our stories being told and their stories being heard through us portraying these characters, but I didn’t expect that people outside of that world would care and become such huge fans.

What got you into grime?
When I got into music, I suppose grime was called garage at that time. There were artists like D Double E that were just up the road from me. It wasn’t until I saw his success that it made me believe that I could do it. It made the scene much more local and accessible. Something like that is really important, rather than seeing people on TV who you don’t know. But when you see someone so close to home make it big, that makes you think you can do it too.

Is it important for upcoming artists to be flexible?
Being open is good, but the great stars are those who stick with one thing. Being a jack-of-all-trades is not something I suggest people should aim for. Some people get five or ten years into their career and still haven’t learnt the basics. If you love filmmaking, make films. If you really love music, you need to put the hours in – there’s no substitute for that. You can’t cheat that process, it takes time to become great. You need to talk to others and learn. Even discussing how your friends or family react to something new that’s come up, it’s all important. Just to share information.

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