Selected by: Yemi Abiade

Name: Knucks

Where He’s From: North West London

When He Started: “I started writing lyrics at around 12, but started really producing and putting together my first project at 14/15.”

Genre: UK hip-hop

File Next To: Oscar #Worldpeace, Sam Wise, ItsNate, kadiata

Sounds Like: “Laid-back hip-hop that hits hard in any situation.”

First Music That Inspired Him: “When I was really young, I found a Missy Elliott CD and tried to remember all the words. Then when I got into grime, I was fascinated by Dot Rotten; I started to adopt his lyrical style when I did grime. Then when I started making UK rap, I was listening to Blade Brown and Youngs Teflon.”

Knucks is blazing a trail in UK music, his way. A real student of rap music from both sides of the pond, not many UK artists would be so bold as to craft their debut project following the blueprint of an all-time classic. But that’s exactly what this London lad did with 2014’s Killmatic, moulded in the vein of Nas’ immortal Illmatic. Trading Nas’ Queensbridge for the equally diverse roads of South Kilburn, the young emcee meticulously demonstrated the similarities of the world’s various concrete jungles, gaining him a different kind of buzz altogether.

Knucks’ story is one of maturation after a tough start; a self-confessed troublemaker at school, he was sent to Nigeria at a young age by his parents, where he would find spiritual wisdom and understanding before returning to the UK and diving head-first into music. While juggling his passion with university, from which he graduated in 2018, Knucks took matters into his own hands, dropping arguably his most important hit to date, “21 Candles”, on SoundCloud, the day before his 21st birthday in 2016. The result was a smash that had his name ringing on the internets. Proving time waits for no man, he followed that with the acclaimed “Breakfast At Tiffany’s”. The hustle was officially worth it, and music became an avenue he could really thrive in.

Sonically, Knucks weaves together golden age hip-hop and old-school soul sensibilities, via more contemporary UK sounds, for a laid-back, worldly brand of rap. His bars are what he describes as “lyrical, soulful and calculated.” “I like to leave no bar unused,” he tells me. “If it’s not a punchline or wordplay, it’s going towards making my overall message or point.” Even on a track as heartbreaking as “Rice & Stew”—the heartbreak being the feeling many African kids feel when they open up a tube of ice cream only to find leftover rice—Knucks’ reasoning is displayed through relatable storytelling and charm as he critiques fake bad boys and girls who do too much on Instagram.

The rapper’s talents earned him a spot on “Run Up” from Swindle’s 2019 album, No More Normal—a big step towards ultimate stardom. Debut EP NRG 105 is out soon and, with it, Knucks is more than ready to take the next step, while taking in every corner of success and recognition that comes his way. “I feel like there is so much things that I’ve achieved so far, and I’m grateful for that, but there are so much more goals I want to tick off the list so I still feel like we’re only just getting started.” Confident words from a confident musician on the rise.

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Posted on May 02, 2019