Why Kano’s “Class Of Deja” With Ghetts And D Double E Is An Instant Grime Classic

Words: Musa Okwonga
Photography: Sam White

On the day the trailer for the new Top Gun movie arrived (July 18), grime reminded Hollywood that it knows nothing about legendary duos. On that same day, actor/musician Kano released “Class Of Deja”—a track in collaboration with Ghetts and D Double E that nods to pirate radio station Deja Vu FM—which is so good that I want to raid Area 51, rob them for that time-machine they’re clearly hiding there, and head to Aug. 30 when Kane Robinson’s next album lands.

Can we talk about how good this track is? About how this seminal cut arrives at the end of an extraordinary 17-minute video about the ravages of knife crime with Kano and his friends mourning ‘Nate’, a dearly departed community member at a wake, and the mood instantly surges from the greatest melancholy to the purest euphoria? Can we discuss how this is quite possibly one of the greatest grime tunes of all time, and why? Here’s the argument—and I’m so excited by this I can barely type—consider the harrowing opening moments of the instrumental, which bring to mind the time Luke Skywalker first met Yoda for training, then how D Double E sets the table with his timeless and trademark introduction—the only emcee in grime who can get a reload for a mere groan—before Kano attacks, switching styles with the dexterity and frequency of a champion MMA fighter.

Just when you think you’ve had enough, D Double arrives on the hook wearing his Matrix-era midnight sunglasses, like some alien Terminator priest coming from the future to bless the track with a dose of holy slaughter, and then Ghetts surges into the fray... Ghetts. My goodness! The most anticipated arrival on a tune anywhere in world MCing—with the exception of Method Man, of course. Ghetts coming in on a track makes me feel as excited as I was when Method Man was on his legendary run between ‘93 and ‘98 for the Wu-Tang Clan.

When Ghetts arrives, you realise that everything that came before was mere preparation, that everyone else was merely dusting down the tablets while he prepared to carve grime’s commandments into their stone. He drops two bars of such perfect timing, imagery and resonance that the entire crowd erupts—“Shaolin monk when I step in this temple/Tag team man see legends assemble”—because everyone there knows how long he’s been working, how long he’s been neglected and still persisted, and now here he is, free and joyous, dovetailing with Kano with a grace that will make a mockery of any dog fight you will find in that new Top Gun movie. That section when they go “that’s thin ice/that’s fish-eye”—that’s two lifetime friends sparring at an elite level. This is Federer-Djokovic. Actually, it’s purer than that: this is Federer-Nadal!

Only Kano could turn a wake into a rave, only Kano, and by this time, that dearly-departed soul, Nate, is probably hammering on the roof of his coffin in approval, thanking the crowd for this most rousing of honours or just trying to slide out of there for one last beautiful dance.

Can I tell you how hot this track is? This track is so hot that even if I go outside right now in the searing Berlin heat and, in the words of Kano’s upcoming album, wear “Hoodies All Summer”, I will still not be as hot as this track. This track is so good that I had never before left a comment on a YouTube video, and within ten hours of hearing it, I had left one and typed then deleted two others. This track is so good that I feel honoured to have heard it when it had less than 10,000 views on YouTube. It is so good that at 10pm at my desk, I had to strain hard to stop myself from hollering D Double E’s hook—“Man run up in houses and run up in flats, slapped up dogs and slapped up cats”—even though I absolutely love dogs and I absolutely love cats. This track has rearranged me! This track is so good that I was at my desk last night writing an essay for a deadline with only 400 words to go, and by the time I finished digesting the magnificence of this track, it was two hours later and I still had 250 words to go and had to finish the next day.

“Class Of Deja” somehow harnesses the energy of two legendary tracks—Ghetts and Kano live on “Ghetto Kyote” at Butterz, and Jme and Skepta live on “Spaceship” on the radio—and surpasses them both. Yes, I’m calling it. I can’t describe this so, instead, I will have to quote one of the three legends who have instantly given us a classic moment in British music, screw that, global music. As D Double E would say, “OH MY WORD.”

Posted on July 19, 2019