“I don’t want to be someone who’s in the spotlight so much, I just wanna do what I love doing and get paid for it” says north-west London’s rising rapper Knucks. Bridging the gap between developing rap subgenres, from drill to sample-based boom bap with soul and Afro-beat influences, his eclectic tracks are more than your standard UK hip hop releases as he has even been compared to Kanye. Starting out as a grime artist, he’s now broadened his spectrum to cover everything inspired by the likes of Nas, Biggie, MF Doom and Curren$y, Dot Rotten, Ice Kid and Youngs Teflon.
Currently in his mid 20s, Knucks showed an interest in music at 12 years old as he started creating grime tracks with his friends under the moniker of Y.O.R (Youngers On Road). Around that time, he was sent to Nigeria for a year to prevent him from getting involved with local gangs; a move which shaped his outlook on life as he chose music over crime. At 15 years old, he began to learn how to produce as he started to take his future career more seriously and now takes pride in his extra skill. He believes producing his own music gives him an upper-hand as he says he knows exactly what he wants each track to sound like before even laying down the first bar, whereas other rappers have to rely on communication with studio producers to explain what they want to capture. This also gives him more creative freedom as he won’t write about a subject or produce a certain beat just because he thinks that’s what fans would want to hear, and deliberates his art carefully to cover only what he believes in and wants to discuss.
The young creative studied Animation at university and does all of his own cover artwork himself as just another way to take control of his craft. School also inspired a lot of his song narratives as English Literature in particular opened him up to new themes and books he never would have otherwise engaged with. Breakfast At Tiffany’s influenced his staccato song of the same name, while other pop culture references can be clearly heard throughout most of his releases. The wittiness of his lyrics come from an early love for Missy Elliot and J. Cole, with the latter also pushing him to sample old school beats as they use real instruments which he believes gives more of an authentic and hard-hitting impact.
Last year he signed to Island Records (Dizzee Rascal, Post Malone, Sean Paul) after having many labels show interest. Today (10 June), he’s released his debut EP NRG 105, which The Line of Best Fit have described as having “flavoursome flows, hypnotic melodies and witty wordplay“. It follows the concept of a radio station NRG 105 as the opening track portrays the sounds of a listener getting into their car and tuning in as people call in requesting his new songs. Knowing he wanted to make a concept album but struggling to piece all the songs into one narrative, he decided upon a radio station as all the songs featured share something in common but aren’t necessarily that alike. Comical adverts for restaurants and even marriage counselling divide the tracks, while the ‘Breaking News’ segment puts the album stream to a holt towards the end as the story of a teenager being stabbed is announced. This flows into closing track ‘Home’, which contrasts with his otherwise humorous approach and ends the release on the note that he is a serious artist underneath.
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