If 2017 was thus far the pinnacle for the newly concerted UK urban music’s infiltration of mainstream, then 2018 is flooding the trenches with the most vigorous, versatile and menacing armed recruits yet. It’s set to be a record-breaking year for the scene, with countless emerging talents popping up. One of the most promising and prominent figures dotted on the radar however, is, how he describes it, trap-wave artist, M Huncho.
Following a string of YouTube releases collectively racking up millions of views over 2017 into the start of 2018, I met with the masked man himself down in Kensington, days before the lead single ‘Elevation’, of his new project, ’48 Hours’, crossed 1 million. Both the man and his music seem to neutralise this constant state of urgency engulfing a scene so impatient, and, provokingly though decreasingly, so short-term minded.
M Huncho’s strong and present demeanour portrayed through his new music is met with a sense of omniscient serenity, as is his persona. “In terms of expectations, I didn’t really expect anything it’s just about actually putting in the work and seeing where it takes you,” Huncho humbly states, diving straight in as we take our seats in a small, busy side-street café.“…But in terms of the vibe, it’s going good man, I feel positive. But this is just the start, so, there’s a bigger milestone to reach after this. We got bigger things to do. I didn’t really expect to get this far this quick but it is what it is. We let the music do the talking.”
What is actually M Huncho’s second project, ’48 Hours’, follows 2017’s ‘Get Out’ a flowful, though seemingly adolescent project in comparison to the sharper new effort. His assertiveness and focused energy have been clear from the offset, with the concise, passionate and yet somewhat charged responses that ensues as our conversation about the game begins. I can tell we’re in for a gripping conversation. “I’ve only been making music for like a year and a half. Yeah, literally and year and a half. That’s only because I studied the game, I studied the industry first. I done my research on everyone. Who’s who, who does what, how things work in terms of streaming, album sales, how to push your consistently videos consistently with good marketing and a team,” he continues to unravel. “It was just a thing where I just prepared myself before getting into the scene then got into the scene, innit. That’s all it was. Literally. Attentions on me and let’s keep it going.
Whilst siphoned through a sense of calm, his words carry a state of assertiveness, somewhat reminiscent of the powerful masked image that has emerged to the forefront of this new trap-wave movement that M Huncho has created. Undoubtedly a prominent topic of discussion has been the man behind the mask, and what it represents, which we get into shortly after our initial exchange. “Obviously I like the attention when it comes to the music, but when it comes to general life, I don’t really like all the other stuff that comes with it, like fame, autographs and all that. I got family, I got stuff to deal with in my personal life innit, I don’t need an extra burden on my back, like I’m not into all of that stuff. I just wanna mind my own business, I already find it hard enough to make friends so…” and his reasoning is impressive to say the least. It seems as though the exact reason so many ‘artists’ jump into the game like nobodies business is in fact the unappealing factor fuelling Huncho’s decision to not show his face. Whilst he makes it clear, his decision, ironically, has gauged more attention and interest, he’s gearing up to pull the game onto his shoulders in the coming months. I can’t help but feel the significance was deeper, so we persist on.
“Look right now we’re sitting in a café. Everyone here puts on a mask, whether it’s to go to work… not a physical one, in theory. They put on a mask when they meet certain people, they don’t like being so open. They put on a mask when they go to work, the ‘haha’ fake jokes all of that with their boss. Everyone has a mask that they wear at a certain point in their life, or when they do certain things. When I say everyone wears a mask, our ones just more obvious you know what I’m tryna say? That’s what it is man.”
’48 Hours’, is a mellisonat 8-track project, riddled with contemplation, conflict and self-sufficiency, delivered through extremely potent piercing lyricism and vocals. Conceived in a two-day straight studio session, it contains a host of producers, yet maintains a consistent sound, and only one feature, Young Bush, also a collaborator on Huncho’s previous project with the track ‘Wish Me Well’. “48 Hours… because I like working like that, I like being relaxed, having time to make as many things as I can before I quit”, he begins to explain.“I called my engineer and was like yeah I need 48 hours man lets do this. We didn’t even plan to make a tape, but it just fell in place. It was all natural so it felt good man.”
Kicking off with ‘Too Close (Intro)’, you are dropped into the mellow, dark, instrumentally descending vibe instantaneously. Asking M Huncho about the intention behind this, transforms into further discussion about production, melodies and his working practices. “Everything was done at different times, then I sat down to listen and chose the track list order. It was relatively easy, because we had a vibe where it would be slow, then faster, then slow then faster. The transitions between the songs are smooth all the way through you know. Once you get to the eighth song, it makes you restart the whole ting again.”
“In terms of producing , people sent me beats, but I’ve got quite a few producers on my snapchat. I voice note them melodies and be like yeah, if we can do something like this, then I’ll send over a reference track and then boom it comes into play. So I do play a part in it, but I don’t take credit for it, obviously, I didn’t do it. I gave them my idea and then the producer done his magic. I work with different producers, so it all just depends really.” His beverage arrives.
Our conversation swiftly flows through the tracks on the project, from the madness that the lead single, ‘Elevation’ caused and his flippancy towards video views, to a vexatious attempt at picking his favourite track. This was all before we land at the flawless flows of ‘Come Up’ and most notably, the longer structure of the first verse – his eyes light up as he nods when I bring this to his attention. “Yeah. You see what it is. The way I start rapping, I start way early in the beat…” he begins to address it. “So when the beat drops I catch the drop, so everyone can get pumped straight away. That’s why usually my first verses are longer, by 4 or 8 bars.” It’s a technique he perfectly exemplifies on ‘Council Flat’ mid-way through the 25-minute long project. “The way the second verses are set up, that’s actually how long the first verses are meant to be as well. I hardly start with a hook. ‘Calm Days’ is the first song where I’ve started with a hook. But we need to get videos done for all of these man, all of them.”
I’m not a feature clown. Id rather do everything off my own back until I believe I’ve hit that calibre.
Later quizzed on whether or not more features on ’48 Hours’ was a possibility, Huncho’s composed response is just shy of disdain towards the idea. He sips on his lemonade, the ice rattles, and he breaks it down. “Personally…what it is…it all comes back to studying the game. If I do features so early on in my career, then it’s going to be a thing where, I’ll become known as the man for the hook, or the man for the feature. You know what I’m tryna’ say like…I’m not a feature clown. Id rather do everything off my own back until I believe I’ve hit that calibre where I can do features with people that I believe I can be compared with. Even though I don’t do comparisons or competition.” I concur and affirm that an artist really needs to hold their own when they do that. “Exactly…” he responds, “it really just comes down to the fact that I actually didn’t want to do any features. I’ve had a lot of good artists ask me for features… I had to decline them all on a professional level, just to let them know that I’m working on myself right now.”
Every song that I hear nowadays sounds the same. All it is, is a different person. The beats the same, the flows the same, the melodies are the same.
“You can’t ask me to be on a song that’s not my sound. When it comes down to music itself, I’m known for my style, my sound, beats, and I’ve never jumped on a shit beat and I don’t think I ever will, hopefully anyway”, his passion bubbles.“They might send me something like afrobeats or afroswing. I don’t do afrobeats or afroswing! How do you expect me.. I mean it’s disrespectful for you to even send me that in the first place, because, if you claim that you fuck with my music, then you should know what I do isn’t that.”
For those who have digested M Huncho’s music, you’d be able to identify its seclusion from what currently exists. It’s a Trap Wave. Yes, it’s wavey, but it carries this trap spikiness, almost an unfuckable with-esque territory, which you would be dared to enter. Clarity, content, and connection. Those are the three prominent focuses we mine, and most likely, what will be experienced in M Huncho’s upcoming debut UK tour, landing in Manchester, Birmingham and London later this year. “I’ve never ever been to a concert in my life apart from Future and my own performances…” a somewhat shocking confession. “I went to Future at o2 Brixton a couple years back, and then after that, just to my own shows. (chuckles).”
I’ve come from a place here no one wishes good on you. Even your friends wish you bad, they don’t want you to succeed, but in your face they do.
“Last year I told my friends , next year, I’m gonna be at Lovebox. This is when I had no booking agent, nothing. I will be at Lovebox. I will be at festivals and I’ve achieved it. Setting yourself a goal and achieving it, it feels 10 times better. 10 times better. I’ve come from a place here no one wishes good on you. Even your friends wish you bad, they don’t want you to succeed, but in your face they do.”
It’s at this point the concept of masks rises to prominence. Huncho’s frustrations, his acceptance and his ultimate embracement of the harsh realities masked in everyday struggles are perhaps parallel to the progressive career that lays ahead of him. It’s virtually undeniable, given the mainstream success of ’48 Hours’, entering the UK Album Charts and provoking a rousing vibe around each track he drops. “I wasn’t expecting it, but we pushed for it slyly. We kept it in mind but we didn’t expect it. And that just proves a lot of things. You’ve got people like Nines who charted…not even just this album but the last album too. That’s a positive move, at the end of the day we all come form the same place, so it’s good to see someone actually hitting the charts.”
Huncho recounts, “I got a DM from Izzie Gibbs. Good guy man”, as we began to wrap up, “and he told me bro, you are hard. A lot of artists won’t tell you that, because they have pride issues, ego, but bro I will tell you, you are hard. And that’s all he said, he didn’t ask me for anything. He said god bless, and like that was it, that was our conversation. It’s all about being genuine. My man has never seen me before, he’s never seen my face, he’s never met me. He just know me through music, and for him to say that to me, it just opened my eyes. People don’t help each other in this industry. You just have to push yourself.”
Its clear there’s a blessing upon M Huncho, and his journey now rests on building and securing an impenetrable fort. His music speaks for itself, and with his upcoming tour, more videos and releases, his energy and vibrations are bound to build waves that will trap your attention, and undoubtedly, other troops on the battlefield.