NRG 105 is a well-suited title to Knucks highly anticipated EP. The artist definitely kept the energy at 105 on this one.
Knucks began making waves with his smooth but catchy track ‘Breakfast at Tiffany’s’. Following up from this, he dropped a slew of singles before a long patch of radio silence. He then announced via social media that he had signed to Island Records, and went quiet once again, before returning with ‘Rice & Stew’ which was the lead single for NRG 105. Just before the project dropped, he gifted us with another single from the project ‘Wedding Rings’.
The concept of the EP is simple, it mimics the format of a radio show. For this Knucks and his team went above and beyond to perfectly capture the radio vibe. From the deep vocals and smooth-talking host, to the call-ins, and even adverts – the listening experience of the EP is completely immersive. If it wasn’t for the fact that you can hear Knucks on every song, you could quite easily believe the show was a real one.
Yet beneath this, the album also appears to have a story throughout. On ‘Intro’, we have a caller, Anna, who requests a track as she gets ready for a night out.
By the time we get to the closing track ‘Home’ , we have met the narrators love interest at a party. But things have progressed a lot further in some unexpected ways. That’s just one element of the story but I won’t spoil the rest, you’ll have to piece together that for yourself.
The concept works so well because of the specific attention to detail and expert execution. From the very first minute, the radio vibe is very apparent and every piece of content is carefully curated.
Take the adverts for example, although they seem random, they add some much-needed humour and breaks to the project. They also serve as a unique way to replace the traditional interlude format. With the vast majority of the tracks being more melancholic, the comedic element really helps with the project’s digestibility.
On top of this, Knucks shines throughout the project. Whether there’s a feature or not, Knucks remains the star of the show. The witty, laid back, and clever rapping style we are accustomed to from him are on full show here and we even get a little extra on some tracks. With a lineup of features from the likes of Miraa May, Oscar Worldpeace, and Wretch 32 NRG 105 shows us Knucks is more than capable of hanging with the best.
But it couldn’t all be good. Despite my praise for the project and it’s concept, the adverts are one of NRG 105‘s downfalls. The project is only 10 tracks long with four of those tracks being adverts. It also doesn’t help that the remaining six tracks aren’t completely brand new. ‘Rice & Stew’ came out before the project had even been announced. Taking this and the adverts into account, NRG 105 is really only 5 new songs.
In terms of pacing this also has a strange effect. The first couple of songs are broken up neatly with an advert at the end. Then we get to ‘Wedding Rings’ and suddenly none of the tracks are closed with advert for the next three songs. So whilst the concept works extremely well, as a musical body of work it feels like it needs something more.
In the grand scheme of things, these criticisms are very small. In fact, I think it shows that we should have got more from Knucks. If his work wasn’t up to par I wouldn’t expect (or want) any more. NRG 105 shows the potential Knucks has as an artist, and it was great to see that in his first label outing he still got to be himself unapologetically. Displaying his range with his typical laid back style as well as some melodies and a more grime tempo flow across track, NRG 105 is a real showcase for what he can do.