Inspired by Israel, South African globetrotter launches music career
After 15 years of adventures, King Cano kicks of professional beatboxing after seeing Israelis' passion despite conflict.
King Cano faced the tropical sun as he crossed the Amazon on a donkey. He felt the freezing cold of Tibet and stood at the water stage of Staten Island when the twin towers came down.
He tasted iguana from Costa Rica and ate bear with the Anishnawbe and Algonquin tribes in Canada. He walked, biked, hitchhiked, ran - he even crossed mine fields since he departed from South Africa 15 years ago. All the while, Cano made music in the streets and city squares for free using the sounds he collected from traveling the world.
Over 80 countries later, Cano received feedback in Israel that inspired him to start beatboxing professionally. It helped him recognize the value of his musical talent in a new way.
"People loved it. They said chaval al ha'zman, chaval al ha'zman - I don't even remember how they say it - it's just a word that means super amazing, great. Wow, it just gives you a feeling," he said.
Cano was attracted to Israeli culture because he saw people with immense passion, the ability to become fully immersed in music and that could enjoy life to the fullest, despite tensions and dissonance in the country.
"I think Sudanese people and people that come from different African countries can learn a lot from people who went through the struggle over and over and over again. Learn how to smile and learn how to enjoy themselves to the fullest. You're never gonna get that from any other country I've ever seen in my life," he said.
In addition to his impromptu street performances, Cano has performed at events, shows, bars, clubs, weddings, Bar Mitzvahs and Bat Mitzvahs. Regardless of the venue, his style remains the same: nothing is planned; he creates spontaneous beats and lyrics as he feels inspired to in the moment.
Cano's music and his actions reflect his philosophy of life: that people can create their own reality and can choose to manifest positivity. He hopes his actions will inspire others to do the same.
Looking at the Israeli-Palestinian conflict through his perspective, Cano believes that holding onto the past and holding onto fear perpetuate the conflict.
"As long as you keep continuously picking up a gun, as long as you keep saying that they're gonna attack us or they're gonna attack us if we put down our guns, as long as you keep fearing war, of course, there's going to be a war. That said, as an outsider I also have respect, you've got to respect that fear. You've got to respect that situation of mourning, the reason why people come and fight for their right to be here, you have to respect all of it," he said.
Cano's perception of Israeli culture changed after he moved to Israel. He said he met many arrogant and obnoxious Israelis throughout his travels, but he started to recognize that the attitude he encountered stems from a history of struggle.
"Not like everything should be justified, at the same time, a lot of things are. You can definitely understand a whole lot more once you come here and see it for yourself," he said.
In addition to beatboxing, Cano performs spoken word, poetry, hip hop, voiceovers on house music, reggae, and rap. He often collaborates with artists in various genres.
Cano recently performed at his biggest gig yet: the opening ceremonies of the Maccabiah Games.
"It was amazing. Their mouths kinda dropped when they noticed that I was taking the time to speak to the people. It was great to send a message of self-empowerment," he said.
He teamed up with Nir, an Israeli vocal artist to perform in front of a 30,000-person crowd. The duo creates all their music live using their voices, a loop sampler, and a vocal FX pedal.
According to Cano, Nir?s experience and musical talent help their music escape the confines of one specific genre. "He and I together make an indescribable situation. We mesh together perfectly," Cano said.
As for where Cano will go next, like the rest of his travels, he has no plan to stay or go. "I'm happy to be here as long as Israel accepts me to be here," he said. "Who's to say Israel won't ask me to stay? That would be a blessing, a major blessing."
More information on Cano's performances and samples of his work are available on www.kingandnir.com, www.myspace.com/devinezulu, and Facebook.