Aitch talks us through his new EP, track-by-track
“It’s called ‘Polaris’, the northern star... it’s my realm, up north.”
Proving it’s not all that grim up north, Manchester MC Aitch has consistently delivered banger after banger, scoring a handful of UK Top 10 hits and racking up millions of views on his music videos in the process. Part of a burgeoning wave of young rap talent hailing from outside of the M25, he bagged a BRIT Award nomination at the start of this year, fresh from featuring on Stormzy's critically-acclaimed Heavy Is The Head. And he’s still only 20.
In the wake of successful singles “Raw”, “30” and “Rain” featuring AJ Tracey, today Aitch releases his third EP, Polaris. Named after the North Star -- which sits around 408 lightyears from earth -- the eight-tracker pays tribute to his own northern roots. The project is an honest reflection upon what has been a truly epic year for the young rapper: all fast cars, festivals and football fun, sure, but also a fast-tracked coming of age for someone who only recently moved out of his mum's house.
The new EP showcases Aitch’s versatility across tracks produced by the likes of fellow Mancunian whYJay back-to-back with those by LA-based Kenny Beats. There's also an unexpected Destiny's Child sample that he didn’t even clock was a Destiny’s Child sample.
This is Polaris, in Aitch’s own words...
1. Safe To Say
“This one was made in LA with Kenny Beats. Basically what happened was we made "Zombie" and built up a really good relationship, so I went and linked him again in the same week and made this. It’s a bit of a serious one. It’s a statement and it was my mind set at the time. I wanted to get stuff off my chest through the music.”
“This is just a vibe. I was feeling a little bit dry and uninspired so we went to the shop and got a bottle of liquor. I didn't even open the bottle before I started writing but the liquor influenced me into a more active mind. It was just a bottle of Hennessy. We went to LA after The Brits back in February this year. It was my last trip before lockdown. Kenny Beats is a sick guy -- he’s proper amped in with the UK scene. You can have a conversation with him like you would with UK producers.”
“I was going to drop this before the EP but then suddenly changed my mind and filmed a video for “30” instead. You still might see a video for “Moston” soon though. This one is about my area. I wanted to big it up and to make a tune for the people around me to feel proud of and represented by. The EP is called Polaris -- the northern star. It’s my realm, up north.”
“whYJay produced this one. I just wanted an active tune that would have gone down sick for the shows and that -- something fun, not too difficult for people to catch on to, something for people to go mad to. Hopefully everyone feels that.”
“Nastylgia and Sykes made this. I drove to London and got in the studio and we were listening to beats. One of them was this Destiny’s Child sample but I was so in the zone I didn’t realise that at the time. I just made the tune! This one is about making people realise how fast I’ve had to grow up. A lot of people wouldn’t be acting like me if they were in my position at my age -- I’m not trying to flex or go crazy, but let me live a little bit cos I’ve had to grow up fast.”
“You’ve all heard this one. It was recorded in Manchester with whYJay and Sangy. I felt like I was in a position where people were taking my kindness for weakness. Sometimes you have to let them know what’s on your mind -- it’s not always Mr Nice Guy.”
7. Like Them
“The EP originally had seven songs but on the day of handing it in, we were listening to it and I was like ‘nah there’s something missing’. So I went into my home-studio during lockdown and made this there and then. We handed the EP in 2 hours late because of it.”
8. Rain (with AJ Tracey) ft. Tay Keith
“Speaks for itself. I had a good relationship with AJ before we even made the song, which probably made the energy in the studio even better. I think people know the story about AJ playing the Tay Keith beat and us both realising that was the one. We just performed this remotely for Radio 1’s Big Weekend -- it was great to perform with AJ outside Old Trafford ;-). MUFC!!”