Next Up 2020: M Huncho
Next Up is a campaign by UNILAD, celebrating some of the most exciting new and emerging music artists in the UK today.
Even if he wasn’t the only guy in the room wearing a distinctive and eye-catching mask, M Huncho would be hard to miss.
Standing head and shoulders above most of the people in the studio, and with a modest entourage in tow, the rapper and trapwave pioneer is a considerable presence on first impression. However, while M Huncho may initially come across as intimidating, sitting down to chat about his music he switches seamlessly between fierce intensity, focus and lighthearted piss-taking.
He’s no stranger to UNILAD, having appeared in our Talking To Myself series, and though M Huncho is arguably the most established artist in our Next Up 2020 class, he still feels as if he’s just gearing up. However, with a string of successful EPs and mixtapes already out – such as the recent Huncholini The 1st, which dropped last month – the rapper is making ground at an impressive pace.
The high output seems to make sense for the prolific rapper, though. Having said the now-infamous mask is a way to ensure his audience connects more with the music than the man behind it, keeping them satisfied with a steady stream of tunes is the least he can do. So, if the listeners aren’t necessarily connecting with the person – because that person is theoretically still anonymous to them – what does M Huncho hope they get purely from the music?
He told UNILAD:
Nothing but my life experience.
I might make music in the third person if I’m making a song or even a project about a story of someone, which I will do in the future obviously. But, I’ve come to this realisation where a lot of people – a lot of people from the environment or the places that I’ve come from and so on and so forth – do live a similar lifestyle to what a lot of musicians in my genre, or in the genre of rap, hip hop, grime etc [do].
They relate to it because we all come from a part of society that’s kind of secluded from, or excluded from, everyone else.
The connection goes beyond those who relate to Huncho’s background though, as anyone can find something to relate to within the music and lyrics.
Music is a universal language… so it’s mad to think that if someone’s actually listening to your music and they’re not even someone who has the same life experience as you, but some aspects they will pick up. And these guys will be working normal nine to five jobs or going to the office in the morning, waking up, training and what not, just people on the right path, working towards goals that are more on the legal side of life – even they should be able to relate to the life experiences of people, because there’s gems they can take out of the music and use in aspects of their own life.
Perhaps his music’s relatability comes from the genre Huncho is working in and pushing forward himself. While many artists may fuse different styles of music together, few can be credited with coining and pioneering a new genre entirely. Trapwave is that genre, which comes from as much of a personal place as from the desire for others to ‘never get tired’ of hearing it.
As Huncho describes it:
[Trapwave] is a genre that comes under hip hop and rap, that I feel like I’ve pioneered myself. I feel like I sound different to everyone else who’s trying to do the wavy, auto-tuned type of rap music.
For me, it’s like, the ‘trap’ aspect comes from the trap – the society I was raised in. It always seemed like a trap, it seemed like a never-ending road that leads to another road that’s never-ending… so the trap comes from there. And the trap also comes from the trap, the bando, that’s what we’re talking about, because that’s the lifestyle, because unfortunately that’s the path I had to put my hand in at one point in my life, or at many points in my life.
And the ‘wave’ – I just feel like when someone listens to my music, they’re in the melodies and all of these things, it’s like listening or being in peace or ocean waves. You’ll never get tired of hearing the waves coming onto the shore, you won’t get tired of that, and that’s the main concept of it, so you don’t get tired of it. A lot of people are here today but gone tomorrow.
It seems to be a regular theme of Huncho’s. Despite people being ‘here today but gone tomorrow’, the artist is keen to build a future not just for himself but for others also. As much as he’s looking out for himself – as evidenced on last year’s single Birds, where he raps: ‘I dropped a mortgage on a house and it’s detached’ – he’s also looking out for others, and is planning to start a label for young producers and artists.
Speaking about inspiring others to follow in his footsteps, Huncho said:
I feel like, for the younger generation, we have to leave something there for them. So I’m not against anyone that is taking on from what I did, because realistically I’m trying to take it to a place where I want to see someone from a different generation take it further, because that’s not where it stops. There’s only so far you can go, but you need to teach other people how to get further than where you got.
The other people that are trying to do this, or are on the come-up, if they are inspired by me then that’s the answer within itself.
It’s something the mask ties into, too. As well as the mystique it gives him, it provides the opportunity to easily take a step back and retreat into the shadows should he wish to, arguably making any future career – as producer, label boss, etc – easier to separate from his M Huncho life.
He has, however, experienced some negativity because of his disguise, though reflects on this in a characteristically considered way.
The realisation that I’ve come to is – people will look at you and just judge you off whatever you look like. So it’s mad people will still do that even if someone’s got a mask on, because there’s nothing that you can really do.
There is the negative side of things, but I think more so, when people get to find out my personality, they kind of sink into it and they’re like, ‘This guy’s a genuine a person’, or whatever their opinion is.
But there’s negativity in everything anyway, so it’s just what we pick and choose out of all the negative. You can find the positives in between, you just pick those out and leave the negatives behind.
With leaving the negatives behind, comes leaving your past behind. As part of the Next Up 2020, we asked all our artists what they’d do differently if they went back to school and started again. And while it’s a fantasy that may be familiar to many of us, Huncho’s answer was typically, well, Huncho.
As he explained:
I would do nothing differently, nothing at all.
One of the things I don’t believe in is going back and changing the past, because even if it was possible it just doesn’t make sense. The reason where you are right now is because of that, so I wouldn’t really change much. I feel like I had a fun life, school life as well.
You know how it goes anyway – you leave school, three quarters or probably 98% or 98.9% of the people from school you don’t talk to anymore. It’s just a process of life. You’re in there, you leave, you meet new people, then you have your first job, you meet new people, that’s how life goes. So I wouldn’t really change anything personally, I’m happy I went through everything that I went through, even if it was heartbreaking or upsetting or a financial loss. I don’t mind, I’m good.
Even if he had the chance to be taught by anyone – any artist or figure from history – Huncho sticks to his guns:
To be honest, just having parents active in my life was enough life lessons anyway. Having my friends’ parents, my cousin’s parents, these are all people from a different generation. Yes they might have different thought processes, but they have life experience, and even when someone is 30 and another person’s 28, the 30-year-old’s still got two more years of life experience, that’s how I see it.
So I’ll say, in terms of life experiences and teachings that I’ve got, it’s all come from in-house. It might have been a different scenario for them, for my parents, but the same aspects come into life now in the society I was growing up in. So I wouldn’t even choose someone that’s like artistic or a musical genius or these types of things, because I feel like the best advice comes from people who are close to you.
Rather than look at the past then, what does the future hold for M Huncho? ‘Peak,’ he says, before adding (with a little encouragement), ‘Peak means I’m not going to hit my peak, but peak as in it’s going to be crazy. It’s going be absolutely mental. But I mean in every aspect, in terms of work rate, dropping music, videos, back ache, leg ache, tears, blood, sweat, all of that stuff. This year I feel like I’m just about kicking in to fourth gear, and I’ve got about 12 gears overall, but my fourth gear is due to be very great.’
Huncho adds: ‘I’m just here to make more music’. With his impressive output being what it already is, and having already dropped a 13-song mixtape early in 2020, who knows what those next gears have in store. We’re here for the ride though.
Listen to our Next Up 2020 playlist here:
Check out the other artists featured on our Next Up 2020 series here.