Exclusives Interviews 14 April 2019

GRM Exclusive: M Huncho – The Man Behind the Mask

14 April 2019

Whether you’d like to admit it or not, we all wear different masks in our day to day lives. We conceal aspects of our personality to accentuate the elements that we deem fit for the respective purpose. When you’re at work, you’re wearing a different mask to the one you’d wear with friends.

For most people, masks are of course, metaphorical. Not for everyone though. A few people require an actual mask for their line of work. I had the pleasure of sitting down with one such individual.

Despite the mystique surrounding him, and even though he’s relatively new to the music game, he is recognised as one of the most talented artists in the UK rap game, forging his own lane through his trap wave soundscapes.

Of course, I’m talking about none other than M Huncho.

Not that he wore the mask for very long…

Yooo my bro, I don’t need to wear this anymore do I? I don’t have any more pictures to take, I’m a good-looking chap! I would rather you saw my facial expressions so you can see the real me and how I react.”

Charismatic, with or without the mask, I knew from the offset I was in the presence of someone who is open, engaging and thought provoking.

“Nothing from this world really matters, I am not here for celebrity status. I make music because I enjoy it and people like it. I’m just trying to take people through my life experiences and if you aren’t trying to listen to it, then boy I can’t help you.

“I wear this mask for privacy. I like living a calm life. I keep a tight knit circle and I like to keep it that way bro. I would like to get married, have kids. I can’t be having fans coming up to me every second asking for a picture when I am with my wife and kids.”

Family is evidently an important aspect of Huncho’s life. He expresses just how important they are through his music. But as we dig beneath the surface of music, it is clear that family is undoubtedly the main source of his ambitions.

“I had a solid upbringing and I’m grateful for that. But factors of my environment can make you a different human being. I’m not going to sit here and say I had a bad childhood because I didn’t.

After moving to the UK when he was around five or six years old, Huncho and his family shared accommodation with his uncle in London. The love and support were always there, but the environment he grew up in wasn’t appropriate for any child.

“I lived in a small compact room with my family. Next people taking crack in accommodation across the hall from our place. Not good. But that fed my hunger bro!”

Having come into the game only in 2017 and with no track record of making music when he was younger, you could be forgiven for thinking M Huncho is entirely new to music. I was curious to learn not only of his musical influences but also his journey from releasing his first project, Get Out, through to 48 Hours which dropped last year, and of course to now with Utopia.

“I have always had an ear for good music. With my bredrins, I would always be the one showing them new music. UK and US music. I find tranquillity in sitting and listening to music. Before I came into this, I studied the game. Experimented with my sound.

I am a tunnel vision kind of person. I do not let distractions get in the way of anything. I do not watch and compare the position I am in to other people as everyone has their own journey in life.

I reached this point in two years because I worked my bollocks off. If people don’t see that then they are sleeping on me. If people do not see it now, they will soon. You must plan ahead. Two months; six months; even two years ahead.

Music has enabled M Huncho to overcome serious adversity, to the point where he is now able to welcome us to his Utopian world. The new mixtape, Utopia, is our introduction into this world. 

“I am just taking people through my perfect world. Even the front cover. Artist with a canvas drawing me with my mask on. The artwork was completely my idea – I just did it in a modern way.”

As the interview progresses, M Huncho’s positivity and ambition is becoming more infectious. It’s authentic because you know it is birthed from experiencing pain.

“I feel positive about this project. Positive about the tour. I always feel like I have a positive energy running through me now. I am ready to work. Ready to make a mark. Ready to take it to another level. And then another level after that. I don’t want to stop.”

“I’ve experienced low points. Being Depressed, you know Mental health is a serious thing bro. I spend most of my time alone, so it used to affect me mentally. Even though I have a family that loves me and are there for me, when you are in a certain mental state, you have no other option but to help yourself.”

A track on Utopia that best depicts this is “Rock Bottom” featuring Yxng Bane.  

“On the track with Bane, I say, ‘when I hit rock bottom that was the best thing that ever happened to me’ and it was because when you hit rock bottom there are two things that can happen to you. You can either stay there or you can do your best to get out of it. And I got up. I have always been that type of person.

My music is reflective of my thoughts. Listeners know the vibe I am on. I can get you gassed, get you thinking deep in your thoughts. I have so many aspects to my sound.”

With such ownership of his sound, it is telling as to why he is very selective of who he features with. It’s not about having to sound similar with the person he is featuring with, more so the chemistry they have and whether the track makes sense.

“I need it to sound how I could imagine it to sound as well; bear in mind that if someone is asking me for a feature, they are looking for my expertise, free of charge I might add. I’ll never just feature with anyone. “Look at the track with Slim. I think he’s sick. We don’t sound anything alike, but the track sounds good”. 

“Featuring with Bane was sick. We both wanted to work with one another, and it was natural. Same with Nafe Smallz. Gunna was normal – we are musicians. I don’t see my peers and get starstruck. We’re both workaholics. We fed off one another’s energy. Made the track. Spoke about music. Told me how to secure the bag there (USA) and I told him how to do it here in the UK. That’s what go getters do. Network; share ideas on how to level up.”

As we were in the plush Island Records house, it was only right to find out more about the deal with them, especially when M Huncho was experiencing lots of success as an independent artist. Also, notwithstanding the fact he’s forthright in the musical vision he’s set for himself, would label influence derail that?

“I made the decision to sign with Island records because I believe they can get me to where I need to be. Being independent is cool but you need the right support. They have the right team; they have the right connections. On top of that I am still able to govern my own thing. If I wanna release my own project, I can. I can call it whatever I want and put whatever I like on it. It’s a great working relationship we have.”

Having expressed in interviews before, and of course in his tracks he came into music financially secure, it has enabled Huncho to never let money be the key denominator in directing his musical journey, let alone in signing a deal. We spoke about his first performance in Leicester where he earned £100.  

“I was driving a 2.5 diesel. £80 in the tank. Go Mcdonalds drive-through on the way home – twenty quid munch on me for everyone. Financially I was good. I didn’t do the performance for the money. I wanted to perform. At the same time, I knew I wouldn’t be getting £100 a show the rest of my life. If I keep working hard, the price is only going to go up. Got to make sure the price keeps going up.

“I have seen a lot of money. Made a lot, lost a lot, made it back again”.

“I have a top, top credit level rating. Most important rating in life! I could go and finance a Wraith if I wanted to. But let’s be real, why do I need something that is going to depreciate. I have a family. I would rather fund them. I have family living in other countries that do not have shit and they need dough. I don’t make music for money. I make music for the love of making music. Money is just a bonus.”

As well as being someone who provides for his family, Huncho has ambitions of providing for the music scene and playing his part in helping everybody to eat from it. He shares various stories of providing advice to budding musicians and connecting them with the right people. One of them being an unsuspecting fan who he met in Harrods Food Hall. Huncho also expressed why it is important to help one another in the scene.

“From day one I have treated this as a job. Everyone in this industry are my colleagues. We have to support one another in order to grow together. Everybody can get the bag.

“I might not particularly feel a song from the UK that’s doing well in the charts, but if it needs that extra push I will always support, share it on my socials etc because I wanna see people win and it supports the scene. I am all for it.”

“I wanna take my ting and UK music, global. I wanna bring people to my perfect world. My Utopia! And I am not stopping until I get there.”

Getting to know the man behind the mask has only made an already endearing musician, even more captivating.

With a burning desire to elevate beyond levels known to only a few from the UK scene, M Huncho will not stop until he gets there; and I believe him.