Knucks is a 21 year old rapper from South Kilburn, North West London. His unique rapping style and versatility, something that he has been working on for over 10 years has elevated his name in the scene. His first project, Killmatic had industry heads turning and fans talking.
We sat down with the young lyricist and talked about his musical journey from a young age, His project Killmatic, being sent to boarding school in Nigeria aged 12, producing his own music and making beats for the likes of Fekky & Blade Brown aged just 16.
Where did the name Knucks come from?
I got the name when I was in secondary school. My boys and I used to play this game called ‘knuckles’ where you hit another person’s knuckles against each other and whoever game up was the loser. I always won so my mates started to call me Knuckles and I just ran with it.
You’re 21 what do your family think about you pursuing a career in Music?
I wouldn’t they’ve been supportive throughout the whole journey but when they saw that I was taking music seriously they’ve been supportive. For my parents education is the most important thing. Its all well and good chasing what I want to on the side, they have no problem in that but my education is number 1 and always will be.
Have your friends been supportive of your music career?
My close friends are proper supportive of my music, they tell me when something is good and when something is bad. It is important to have the right people around you giving you that positive criticism to make you push yourself to the next level. I value their opinion and I know that they’re helping me rather than hindering me.
Where did your unique rapping style come from?
When I first started in grime I used to listen to the more so lyrical artists like Dot Rotten and Ice Kid so I picked up on the way they rapped and tried to use the same for my own flows. I then moved over to rap, listening to the likes of Nas and MF Doom; this is where I studied their flows and raps down to a tee. Off the back of that I combined the way they all rapped and implemented it into my rapping style and since then I’ve just ran with the style.
We’ve seen the visuals to Breakfast at Tiffany’s, produced by you as well! Sick video! What was your inspiration behind the visuals?
My part in the video was majority of the concept; I came up with the concept from the film, Breakfast at Tiffany’s. When I made the song I knew already what sort of visuals I wanted. I tried to give the video the same feel that the film gave me, a kind of luxury high-class feel. This is why I chose to film in central London, also looking at my 21 candles video filmed on my estate I wanted to create juxtaposition between the two.
Nowadays people don’t drop music for free, but you dropped ‘21 Candles’ on your Sound cloud. What was your creative process behind that?
To be honest with you bro, it came off a whim. I found the sample of the beat on my laptop days before my birthday. I kept replaying the sample over and over again. I remade the drum pattern, perfected the beat and then I just got my pen and paper out and just started writing that’s where the idea dawned on me, I might as well of make a track for my birthday. I didn’t expect it to be this big but you and I both know, the tracks you don’t think will be big actually bang and vice versa, sometimes tracks you think will bang don’t actually bang and you’re sitting there like “what?! How?”
How did it feel being a teenager & producing for the likes of Fekky and Blade Brown?
It was surreal bro. I made the beat when I was 16, listening to it over and over I could imagine Fekky’s voice on this track. I don’t usually do it but I emailed Fekky the beat and told him I feel that this beat would be perfect for him. I didn’t expect him to reply but he seemed mad gassed about it through his reply, before I knew it the track was on his new mixtape called “ Man Down”. The same with Blade Brown when I made “Mr. Brown” I was about 17, this time I made the beat for him, and again he used it for his track. Blade told me to keep in contact with him, even to this day I hit him up, he gives me advice and opportunities to work in the studio off the back off that.
How was it balancing music whilst completing a uni degree?
With my 3 years it was difficult to be creative in two different fields at once. My creativity is naturally music. When I wake up I subconsciously go sit at my computer and start making or editing beats. At the same time I need to be as creative in my second field, Animation. It was hard but I managed to do it because music wasn’t taking over my whole life, even though I was making music not many people were listening to it. But now in my 4th year music is more demanding now, I’ve got loads of interviews and shows; everything is blowing up at once. I feel if you’re 100% on something and you put your mind to it anything is achievable.
Do you feel Killmatic is your best body of work?
For me personally, I don’t feel Killmatic is the best piece of work I’ve created. Since then I’ve gotten better, If you listen back to the Killmatic the production isn’t all there, my delivery isn’t up to scratch, that’s because I was starting out. I feel now I’m at a stage where I’ve improved a whole load. It’s my most memorable body of work I’ve put out.
Who in the scene do you feel is doing well at the moment?
For me it’s the New Gen. Stormzy is the best example for me, someone who has grabbed the bull by its horns and never looked back. The guy is setting trends and opening new opportunities for us to follow. Also the likes of AJ Tracey and Dave, I’ve watched their every move and like their come up, I respect the way they portray themselves and their music is quality. It would be nice to work with them in the future, if we both come up with something that works and fits by all means!
We read that you were sent to boarding school in Nigeria at the age of 12, tell us a little more about that.
Ah man it was mad! I was a bad kid, always getting into trouble and on school report. One day my parents were called in by the school and asked they could voluntarily remove from the school instead of expelling me. They did and then they tricked me into going to Nigeria for a ‘holiday’. At the end of the summer my dad enrolled me into a school and went back to England without me.
What other challenges did you face growing up?
After coming back from Nigeria, I moved to Watford, there was a massive change in the environment, back in the ends I knew people from different parts of London, could go outside and link all my boys daily and now moving to Watford it was a whole different scene, I didn’t know anyone, I still had that ends mentality which you cant take to other ends with you, if you get what I mean? It was sort of an identity crisis being in 3 different environments in such a short time. I just learnt to deal with it and man up.
You’ve been doing music for a long time, what advice would you give to the young hungry MC’s out there wanting to start out in music?
I know it sounds kind of cliché but basically, stick with it. As an individual I don’t believe in talent, I feel that no one is born with it. It is something someone has picked up from a young age and has consistently done it over and over again until its perfected. If you don’t stick with it you’ll never know your full potential.
With fame comes the ladies; is your DM game strong?
Nah, come on bro, man don’t talk! Ha-ha, nah I’m joking, I don’t actually DM girls you know, I’m more of the go out there and meet face-to-face type of guy.
What’s next for Knucks?
I’ve got a single coming out next week or the week after. I’ve also got 2/3 new songs before the year ends. I’ve got a headline show in Jan and I’ve already started on a project that will be out next year. Make sure you follow me on Twitter to see what I’m doing next!
Words by : Amandeep Basi (@Signorbasi)