Earlier this year, Guap caught up with Leicester-born grime artist Black Knight who took us on a deep dive into his well-received debut EP, ‘Novaturient’. It is a gritty introduction to the homegrown MC and artist for new listeners and a timely reminder that old school grime lives on through ‘BK’ for his fans. Those of us from Leicester will be aware that Black Knight – born Michael Knight – has been grinding for some time. From clashing other artists from his hometown, Braunstone, to collaborating with Latvian artists, his style has diversified and become more versatile over the years. This has happened all the while whilst maintaining the hard-hitting sound, flow and cadence, and the honest references to his upbringing that have gotten him to where he is so far.
“Gotta keep on moving / Gotta keep on moving with strength” – lyrics that seem to serve both as in instruction to listeners and as a mantra that Black Knight is following himself. The EP is a salute to the underground, with quick tempo bars being layered over beats that wouldn’t sound out of place on a US trap record. Read more about what the man himself had to say below.
Who is Black Knight?
I’m a 26-year-old, dual heritage, rapper from Leicester city, UK. I represent and am the image of many different types of people here in the UK which my music shows. I’m the person who wants to feel raw emotion with deep and thought-provoking lyrics. I’m also the person who wants to provide others with self-belief and the strength to fight through bad past experiences and mental health issues whilst I’m also willing to lose it myself and show my demons from time to time.
Working out in the gym, travelling and seeing the people I love is everything to me but music gives me something which is hard to describe. Music is my passion. It’s my duty to give something to the people and the main thing I have to offer is good vibes through music, seeing people smile or go mad over my work is amazing for me.
What are the origins of your name?
I’ve been called Black Knight since I was 13 years old – it came from my last name being ‘Knight’. As for the ‘black’ part, that’s because at that time in my life I was always blacked out! Black bandana around my face, whilst doing wheelies down the street on my pushbike. Before Black Knight, my name was MC Fro, because for years I had a big afro, before I shaved my head, haha.
How did you first get into music?
I’ve always enjoyed a wide range of genres when it comes to music, but I remember feeling strong emotion when hearing hip hop for the first time. Albums such as Mobb Deep’s ‘The Infamous’ and Wu-Tang Clan’s ‘Wu Forever’ etc. really spoke to me.
I got bullied by a few kids in my area in Braunstone because it was predominantly white and back then racism was much stronger. So then I started writing about those situations I was in and would even aggressively write what I wanted to do to certain people, then do it! It definitely helped me through a lot and still does today. I can even remember winning the music side of a talent show with my friend Nick Rai who’s currently in Aus’ DJ’ing, We were Year 7/8 and that’s like 11 years old I think. It goes way back!
What impact do you see the Leicester music scene having on the music industry in the UK more generally?
I believe we could have a huge impact in the UK with all the hidden stars and raw talent Leicester has to offer. At the minute the spotlight is dim, but there are artists such as Kamakaze, Jay Cee, Jafro and Stanza Divan just to name a few, proving that Leicester can definitely be up there with the likes of London, Manchester, and Birmingham etc.
Also, with help from Aaron Hira at Clarence Street Studios helping to provide people with studio equipment and production, HQ Recordings’ Yasin Ashrafi, and Vijay over at 2Funky providing open mic nights for up and coming artists, the Leicester scene is growing fast and strong.
Your EP ‘Novaturient’ recently dropped. Can you talk us through each of the tracks on it?
The first track is titled ‘Like Mike’. That’s really just a track to bop your head to – it’s mostly about who I am and my point of views, through a smooth trap beat.
The second track is called ‘Route to Success’. It’s about pushing past any fear, negativity and disbelief you have in yourself when it comes to being yourself and dreaming. Fight for what you want! I hear people complain about their lives when they are in an actual good position to do something or at least just be happy. Fuck fear, get over it and live your fucking life haha. It’s hard when people haven’t got self-worth and confidence strongly instilled in them, but you gotta find your passion or strength and switch the situation. The track’s about just being, and not fearing.
Track 3 is called ‘Charlie’ and it’s a story about friendships that get destroyed through money or drugs. I’m telling the story of me and my old close friend. We went through some mad times and a lot of great times. We were partying a lot, taking and selling drugs, and fighting for years. But he went too far down the rabbit hole and became seriously addicted and started to change as a person – someone I didn’t know or recognise. I knew that he was completely gone when he took some money from my brother for a car that didn’t even exist. So when we got the money back I had to cut him off. I wanted to break him but I think it was better to just leave him behind.
‘Salute’ is pretty much like the first track. It’s a different vibe but it’s generally about what I think and just me going through my thought processes. Just a live beat, with a piece of my mind on it.
I hear some similarities between your sound and that of President T. It would be great to hear you both on a track together. Who would be your top UK artists to collab with?
A lot of people say that our voices are similar but I honestly can’t hear it! Yeah man – I’d definitely do a track with [him], it would sound sick! Some of my top UK artists would definitely be Giggs, Mic Righteous, Krept n Konan, Ghetto, Devlin, and Cas is Dead just to name a few.
What’s next for Black Knight?
Well, I’m looking to release 2 videos before the end of the year; one of those videos is currently getting chopped up right now. I’ve also got a track I’m working on which has a big feature on it so I can’t wait for that one. Yeah just got to keep getting stuff out, and I definitely need to hit more shows and performances. It’s coming together nicely man; you’ll see me.
You can check out the EP here. His latest track ‘Cracks’ is out now on most major streaming platforms.