With lyrics sharp as a knife and a keen ear for smooth production, Knucks is an all-rounder. Setting himself apart with his unique approach to hip-hop and considered musicality, the rapper-producer has gained support from some of the biggest tastemakers and fellow artists in the industry, from Stormzy to Wretch 32. Carrying an innovative ability to merge old school sounds and contemporary styles, the north-west London artist is changing up the UK hip-hop scene and establishing his own lane within it, which he cemented in September with his latest EP, “London Class”. Featuring the likes of Sam Wise, KXYZ and Loyle Carner, the project saw Knucks take the opportunity to flex his full skill set by incorporating jazz into his usual distinctive style.
While he’s working on his next record with a refreshed outlook on life this year, we sat down with Knucks to discuss his creative influences, concept of genre, and the return of live music.
(LEFT) Jumper by LOUIS VUITTON (RIGHT) All clothing by PRADA.
Jumper by LOUIS VUITTON All clothing by PRADA.
BH: Your latest EP, “London Class”, received a glowing reception, which must make you feel really proud. You said the project was inspired by the Korean TV show, Itaewon Class. Do you find yourself most easily inspired by other forms of media, or is music what really drives you? K: A lot of films and other media inspires me. I like for people to be able to tell what I’m into through listening to my songs, i.e. Tarantino’s Pulp Fiction with “Big Kahuna”.
BH: On “London Class”, do you think there is a specific song or lyric that sums up you as an artist and the route you want to go down? K: I don’t, you know! I feel that project was a palette of my different sides sonically, so I couldn’t pick a specific song to show the direction I’m headed.
BH: You’re widely considered a hip-hop artist, but you’ve spoken previously of your love for jazz, and you’ve even incorporated jazz elements into your own stuff. Do you find the concept of genre limiting? Would you prefer if people paid less attention to genre and just focused on the music? K: Nah, I like the concept of genres. I think it’s important in understanding what you’re getting, but I also feel we should be allowed the freedom to experiment with these genres and make something new — ain’t that how a lot of the existing genres were created?
BH: Being from north-west London seems to be a huge part of your identity as an artist, but you’ve also spoken previously about how you would like to make the US your second home. How do the music and hip-hop cultures in the two countries compare? K: There are definitely more similarities than not, the most significant difference being our accent, but I think gradually it’s becoming less of a barrier. I’m hoping to go over there soon to work — obviously after rona and that…
All clothing GUCCI
All clothing GUCCI
BH: Live music was knocked on the head for most of last year, but gigs will hopefully return in some capacity during 2021. Where would you choose to hold your first gig if you could pick any venue? K: I don’t even know! It’s gotta have a lot of space though, I’ll tell you that much
BH: Live gigs aside, what else do you have planned for the year ahead? Are there any exciting projects coming our way? K: Yeah, I’m working on a project at the moment…
BH: And finally, what do you think you’re going to take away from the experience of this pandemic? Do you think you will approach your career or life differently when things start to go back to normal? K: Definitely, I think we all will. If not anything else, this time has been an opportunity to step back, reset and come back to normal life with a new outlook on it. I think people, me included, are gonna be more appreciative of just being here.