There’s something about Knucks that draws you into his music. The Kilburn artist has his own distinct sound, a laidback vocal style over a mix of jazz and hip-hop beats. Everything feels effortless listening to him.
Knucks has been on the scene for nearly four years, starting off as a producer before jumping on the beats himself. Arguably, he was made popular by his hit track ‘Home’ on his previous album made lots of other people take notice, and for the right reasons.
The rapper has brought out two albums, the second 'London Class' being released last month. The album gives an honest take on life in the capital city, inspired by the South Korean TV show Itaewon Class which shines a light on power imbalance and social class issues. Something that Knucks related to himself in comparison to London.
Clash had the chance to talk with Knucks over the phone to discuss his new album and more.
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Have you enjoyed the reception ‘London Class’ has received since it’s came out?
Yeah 100%, It’s all been positive. This time around people are more excited about it, there is a bit more anticipation. After the release of ‘Home’ on my previous record, there are more eyes and people who were looking forward to it.
The concept of 'London Class' came from a Korean TV show that you were watching. Were you sitting on some tracks and thought they could fit into this concept?
So, I had the majority of the project already laid down, maybe like 4 or 5 of the songs and I was really looking for a concept to tie everything together. I just so happened to be watching this show (Itaewon Class) and it was relating so much to what I was talking about. For the remaining songs I had to record, there was this concept in mind for sure.
Is it important for there to be a theme in your albums?
Yeah 100%. That’s why I was searching for that theme for the 'London Class' album. But there always needs to be a theme. This theme was a bit looser than 'NRG105', my previous album. But overall the theme is something that works as it ties everything together. Rather than it being just a number of songs that have been put on an album.
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There’s lots of skits on 'London Class', what is it about them for you that work?
The skits loosely kind of tell a story and also it shows my love of films. The project is obviously about London class, it’s very London-centric, for that reason all the skits from this album were from London films. There are skits from Guy Ritchie films, Tom Hardy and even the film Notting Hill.
Originally, I had a couple of others in there, but wanted to keep the list of skits shorter. It gives the album that London kind of feeling. Because usually when people use skits, they normally have more of an American influence, whether its intentional or not, Because the majority of the films we watch are from there. But I just felt this would be good to add and represent UK films.
Is there an artist that gave you inspiration to use skits in your albums?
The majority of the artist I follow did, but for this one I would say MF Doom. They influenced me and use the skits. The way that MF Doom used them in the Fantastic Four. I saw how he did it.
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You like to create a story with your songs, for example is there anyone who inspired you to do this?
Out of all the hip-hop artists, I would have to say Nas. His storytelling and the way he can paint a picture with his words is not like anyone else.
With your album it shows the breadth of UK rap, with your style and the rappers who are featuring. What do you think of the position of UK rap right now?
I think it’s in a good position in terms of way that there’s more money and attention on the scene. Also, alternative types of rap and music are getting the attention too. Because artists in different pockets of the scene are getting that attention, it’s putting the light on the whole UK rap scene as a whole.
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The video for your track ‘Standout’ with Loyle Carner has just been released. Did you have fun making that track? It seems quite playful.
Yeah man the session was great. That was the first time I was in the studio with Loyle Carner and it came about naturally. I remember in the session; I made the instrumental within the first five minutes, Loyle liked it, we made the rest of the beat and just got into writing it. It was good because it was my way of getting to know Loyle as well. Everything was natural and you can tell from the lyrics what we’re talking about is what was discussed on the day.
You’ve been unsigned since February, how are you finding it in the music industry being independent?
It’s good to know that everything I do now is off the back of me and my team and we reap the benefits of it. Obviously, when it comes to other things, we don’t have the funding, but just that knowledge that everything we do is going to come back to us, and only us is the best thing about it. It’s so much more rewarding.
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'London Class' is out now.
Words: Joe Hale
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