Knucks is an artist who has created his own lane in the UK music scene with his own distinct sound. His choice in production is something that only a few UK artists can pull off; the mix of jazz and precise hip-hop beats along with his laidback vocal style brings out the best in the rapper. After the release of ‘NRG 105’ last year, he’s treated us again with the release of his sophomore project ‘London Class’. It is an album that touches on life in London through his lens, and those for many other people in the city.
The North-West London rapper and producer calls himself ‘The Laidback One’; something that is well known amongst his fans, which becomes self-explanatory from the off for new listeners. He nonchalantly expresses on the track ‘Thames’; “If my words got you hurt then they meant to / If I ever did you dirty then I meant to”. With such composure, comes menacing and assured bars. Lyrics for lyrics, calm.
Knucks upped the number of features for this project. Sam Wise is brought in for the high energy track ‘Fxcked Up’, a song that shows how easy it is to find yourself in a vulnerable position and how people from his hometown are walking on thin ice. KXYZ brings the bravado for ‘Hugh Heff’, whilst a change of tone is welcomed on the upbeat ‘Standout’ featuring Loyle Carner, which brings an accompaniment of piano and jazzy brass instruments and light-hearted lyrics.
There are four skits used throughout the project, each bringing their own dynamic but all with a focus on London. Some are taken from films and others from interviews, including the skit ‘Under Class’ which takes a snippet from an Akala conversation. A powerful point of that being black is a class signifier.
Knucks continues with the political points further on the following track during ‘Your Worth’. A track influenced by the tragic killing of George Floyd, Knucks gives his thoughts; “Take you knee of my neck, what the heck / when did it become so casual making casualties”. The track takes snippets from a Dave Chappel sketch which work as the chourus. Daves passion and frustration comes through in the snippets, relating to George Floyd; “For eight minutes and 46 seconds, can you imagine that?”. The song is a powerful reminder for listeners of the everyday injustices and brutalities faced by the Black community.
Production is simple yet effective throughout. No track is the same, but it comes together as a whole - the good sign of a complete and solid project. Whilst it would be interesting to hear a change in style, which would be welcoming to hear from the Kilburn rapper, he is close to perfecting the sound in his current lane.
Words: Joe Hale
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