In the days running up to my meeting with M Huncho, I'm nervous. Not because of anything negative I had heard about the UK rapper, but because very little information precedes him. He's low-key to a T. Google ‘M Huncho’ and some of the first questions that come up are ‘M Huncho face?’ or ‘M Huncho real name?’ Those answers aren't out there though. Huncho is an intensely private artist and I was going into the interview blind – with no idea about how easy or difficult he would be to talk to or how much he would want to divulge. In the days running up to our meeting – his team is all business. Checking in to make sure everything is still going ahead and texting me a few hours before to apologise that they’re running late – Huncho’s got car trouble. When he does arrive and we sit down to talk, any worries about the interview melt away. Huncho is calm and friendly, engaged with the conversation and good-humoured, he asks only for a glass of water before we talk. He's clear, however, about how the conversation will go – there are things he will talk about, and things that he won’t. Here today to discuss his new EP, 48 Hours, which dropped at midnight last night and was made in a sonic burst of energy that spanned 48 hours of straight studio time and no sleep, hence the name, Huncho steers the conversation mostly towards music. He talks at length about his favourite artists, mostly American hip hop legends, and his ambition to make music that stands up alongside theirs in terms of quality. That influence of music has always been in his life, he explains, declaring, “I'm a heavy listener. I only listen to good music.” What he won’t talk about are personal details – where he’s from or his reasons for keeping his identity concealed, He's amiable about it, though. “In terms of growing up, I wouldn't say I grew up in any specific place mainly because I just used to go everywhere as a kid. Everywhere and anywhere wasn't really a problem,” he laughs.
In fact, Huncho skims over how he first got into making music. He's almost nonchalant about it, explaining that it made sense to him as he saw the UK scene on the come up. “I thought I might as well contribute, right?” he says, amused. That doesn't really do justice to someone who's revered on the UK scene. Best known for his impeccable freestyles, – Huncho's second Mad About Bars picked up an incredible six million views on YouTube – a singular use of autotune, which sounds like nothing else around right now, and a debut EP which blew up. “Yeah,” he agrees when I mention all this. “Obviously, everything is positive. It's been a lot of positive feedback, and the whole city's fucking with me.”
The success all comes down to his work ethic. Huncho is a perfectionist, rigorous in his creative process. During our interview, he explains that he's a prolific music maker, sharing the fact that he has countless songs stored up that won't see the light of day until they're flawless. This is an artist who is tireless in the making of work – as evidenced by the two straight days he spent making 48 Hours (there'll be a short film released soon documenting that process) and the fact he's arrived at the interview today off the back of a shoot that went well into the night the evening before. With all that in mind, we speak with Huncho about how anonymity aids his work process, the process of making his new EP and the choice of its release date – Friday the 13th.
A lot of people know you for your freestyles but what's your process for making a tape?
M Huncho: As soon as I make a song I'll listen to it between 150 and 200 times – over and over again for two days or so just to see what's wrong with it and what needs to be changed. To make the song is easy. It's quick. But then you have to actually go through the logistics of breaking it down into this or that part, splitting it all up, and then you have to sit down at the end of it all and listen to it. I don't listen to it and think of it like, ‘I've made this music’, I just think of it as, ‘This is music. Let me see how it sounds’ – you get it? I compare it to successful people in the industry who have hit that pinnacle already and they're commercial and all that stuff. If I can stand up next to them it means I've done a great job, really. But I'm not one of those guys... number one, I don't think I'm famous or that I ever will be because that's just something in people's brains where they think someone's special. I think everyone’s the same. I've been around many people listening to my music and they don't know I'm in the room. It feels good because, at the end of the day, I mind my own business. I don't step on anyone's toes. I don't send for no rappers. I don't know anyone. You get it? I just know myself and the people that are around me who I see every single day. It's gonna stay like that for the whole way. It’s still the same world as it's always been for me, but now I'm busier.
Is the measure for the music that you put out that you have to be able to listen to it in your own time, then?
M Huncho: Yeah. I have to be able to listen to it and like it at the end of the whole process. If can sit down and listen to my own music and I can compare it to the music of artists like Future or Nas, then I know I’m in the right place. I'm not saying I make music that sounds anything like theirs, but you know what I'm trying to say. I've still got a long way to go, but that means it's gonna get even better, hopefully. I've got many, many, many songs and if any of the songs I've made are bad, my friends will tell me because friends are your number one fans. If your friends are fucking with your music then everyone is gonna be fucking with your music, right?
You keep your personal life very private. Why?
M Huncho: I live a private life. That's all there is to it and I want it to stay like that. I don't go out, I don't go clubbing, I don't even drink alcohol. Don't get me wrong, I have respect for my fans but I'm not really a ‘fan engagement’ type of person. My character is set like that – I just move a different way. No one knows what I look like, everyone is intrigued and they wanna know who I am and for me, I'm thinking, ‘Why is that your business? If I'm making good music, I'm making good music, right?’ Listen to my music and that's it. You don't need to know anything else. I get that people want to know the artist as a person, know his character, and I've got character. Trust me, I'm a funny guy. But I'm just myself. I'm not really a social media type of person. My social media is run by other people – I go on it sometimes here and there, catch a bit of banter, see what’s good. I follow other artists, you have to kind of keep up with the times and see what's going on, but that's about it. I mind my own business. I don't get involved in any social media problems. Any Twitter beef. I don't do none of that stuff at all. I don't even WhatsApp back. I will not respond to you until I am either on the toilet or I go to bed. If you need me, just give me a call. I pick up my phone calls.
It feels like the artistry is the number one thing, so for someone as private as you are how does it feel to have to concede and do things like interviews and shoots?
M Huncho: There are things that you have to do which I will not say no to. I'm a social person when it comes to normal things and it depends on the type of energy you bring to the table, really. If you bring good energy, good vibes and everything is positive then we'll get along. There's a lot of negative energy in a lot of places and I just seem to avoid that negative energy. In terms of coming out to talk about these things, I don't really mind. It's just that I keep the focus on the music because I believe that the music does the talking. Like, there's music out there that you've probably listened to at very low points in your life that related to what was going on for you and it kind of speaks to you. Or you'll be listening to a song today and tomorrow something will happen, something that relates to the song, and now you're relating to that. For me, I make music that will relate generally – not just for the one group. Mainly the things that I say, I express them differently to everyone else. With the new EP, from start to end it's just a good tape. It's just perfect. Perfect.
Are you a perfectionist then?
M Huncho: I got OCD. I have to do things properly otherwise they're not going to work out. If I don't like something, I don't like something. That's it. So I have to work on it. I'm an organised person – the only thing bad about me is that I turn up late to places sometime. Apart from that I just make sure everything is correct. And the people around me are the same as me. So that's why we kind of move like a unit together, we advance together as a whole. There's no space for fuckery.
You’ve mentioned the new EP already – can you talk about that?
M Huncho: I've got this EP coming out today – Friday the 13th. Fuck bad omen. I don't give a fuck about Friday the 13th.
Not into your star signs and all of that?
M Huncho: No. All I know is I'm a Scorpio and Scorpios are dickheads. And I'll gladly take that title. I'm a cunt, fuck it. Apart from this tape, in the future I’m just going to have to see. Think about how to pattern it, what to release at what time. It's all about timing, really. This tape was made on 48 hours of no sleep, so it's actually raw. Everything was done in that 48 hours. We kind of just sat down after all the songs were made and I looked at my manager and I said, ‘We might as well make a tape and call it 48 Hours.’ My main aim with this interview is to let people know to take this EP in as a body of work. I have to do things in bodies. I feel like if there's a lot of things scattered all over the place it doesn't really look good – that's when this OCD shit comes into play. The way I've structured it, from the start to the finish, everything rolls out so easy, everything is relatable. There's turn up music in there, slower music in there as well. But this is not even it. This tape is just a warm-up. The next one is game time.
When can we expect that?
M Huncho: Game time? I don't know. I'm gonna call it Game Time. Actually, I just made that right now, to be honest. But fuck it. We'll call it Game Time. That got named at Radar. You can take the credit for that. 100%.
48 Hours is available now across all major platforms.