You’ve likely come across Knucks, during one of your musical excursions in the last few years. The artist, who compares his musical journey to a slow burn spoke to me on Tuesday afternoon about his upcoming project, a definitive turning point in his early adolescence as well as his new single Rice & Stew.
He started out rapping with his friends in school, mostly over grime instrumentals and eventually discovered. “I started when I was 12, and it started with after school and we’d just spit grime lyrics. We’d have 8 bars and we’d just spit them after school. Then with producing, then there was this software called FL Studio. That’s what we used to record on at school, so when I found out you could make beats on it. I downloaded the free demo version and started to play around with it”. FL studio has played a part in some of best producers early days, with 9th Wonder famously championing the software for being instrumental in giving him access to teach himself production when he was starting out and also as a part of Hip Hop group Little Brother. Knucks who’s production style implements elements of jazz, soul and Hip Hop sounds and with witty wordplay, introspective raps and a creative flair for bangers he’s easily carved out a distinct presence in the scene.
Before that, Knucks remembers at the same time he wasn’t the most studious of kids in school but after being sent to live in Nigeria for a year, the MC recalls how it shifted his perspective. Stating that, “going to Nigeria changed me, but it was more of a character change. The lifestyle over there is so slow, and life over here very fast, people go and they’re going work or school or something. And you know when teachers say; ‘you’re at school to learn’. It made me realise that yeah ‘I’m going to that place to learn, I need to learn’. It really made me reflect and find myself. I also found god and religion out there so it changed my perspective on how I viewed things. So when I came back, that whole experience in turn impacted how my music changed and the things I did to take my music forward.”
On his most recent single Rice & Stew, Knucks revealed that it wasn’t originally intended to feature on his upcoming project. “I was just recording some of the songs to get an updated version and I managed to get a memory stick from Island (Universal) that was filled with already cleared samples, and that was one of the samples. I really liked it so I built a beat around it”.
“I feel like a lot of people don’t take into consideration that they have a big platform where they enforce where the culture moves.”
On Rice & Stew Knucks questions the influence of rap music on youth culture ‘how do they think this rap shit influences the young bucks, cos we were young once’. When asked how he would like his music to be received he says “I’d hope it would influence them in a positive way. Cos that line is more about rap in general, and the things that we’re saying as rappers and how it might affect the younger generation cos I feel like a lot of people don’t take into consideration that they have a big platform where they enforce where the culture moves. So if it’s pushed in a negative way then that’s our doing”. That’s a fair assessment and one that artists should take on board when creating for their audiences.
Knucks, who has always shown his ability to deliver different types of moods alongside slick visuals, his songs Cannes and Breakfast at Tiffany’s come to mind. While he speaks about his creative process when it comes to his music videos, that tend to stray away from often used plain background, estate drops, with lack of structure or purpose to the video other than it simply being the visual component to the record. He works with director Lx, detailing their chemistry, “I’ll usually come up with a concept then I’ll tell Lx. The reason why we work so well together is because when I explain to him my ideas, he gets it straight away almost as if he was thinking the same thing. He knows exactly how to execute the ideas I have”.
“With me I think I have the burden of the slow grind.”
He’s currently working on a new project that will feature guest appearances from Wretch 32 and Blade Brown. Having been on the scene for a few years, this will be Knucks’ first official project, “making the project didn’t take that long. There’s a few songs on there that I’ve had for a while. Not necessarily old songs, there’s only one song that you’ve heard before. It was more so the sample clearing and chasing people when it comes to clearing verses that’s really taken me so long to get to this point. As well as the roll out for the project too, which is where I’m at with now”.
It feels like this is the best time for Knucks’ to land, and with such a solid back catalogue and fan base that’s been anticipating his moves for a while. Knucks’ is quite easily one the most exciting acts in the UK, as mentioned at the start he made a light comparison to being a slow burn type of artist similar to U.S. rapper J. Cole who’s been building his career and core base for over a decade now and sits as one of the top tier artists within Hip Hop and the world. “With me I think I have the burden of the slow grind, so I’ll put myself in the same boat as like a J. Cole in terms of building. For him to get to where he is now it’s taken 15 years but it’s a very authentic role whereas other people have come and done it in 5 years but will they be here for as long as J. Cole?”.
Knucks’ isn’t in a rush to hit big and burn out quick, he’s focused on impact and longevity a feat only achieved with passion, consistency, patience and a true understanding of one’s artistic self and expression. I think this is the year that people outside of his core, will begin to fully understand and appreciate Knucks’ art and I’m looking forward to listening to his new project when it drops.
Stream/Download Knucks’ latest single Rice & Stew.