SFU is home to one of Canada’s youngest independent artists with over one million streams on Spotify and Apple Music. He’s already been making waves in Vancouver’s music scene, but with his first full-length album, Next Up, King H is about to make a splash.
When I first heard Next Up, it surprised me. I didn’t know hip-hop like this came out of Vancouver, let alone SFU.
Next Up transcends Vancouver music stereotypes. “How can you make it out of your city if you sound like everyone in your city?” asks King H.
The album has been in the works since September 2016, when King H would spend all the time he could spare in the studio with the album’s producers, 40K and Zelli Risk. Despite a full course load and a part-time job, the passion for music brought them together two to three times a week.
King H never shows his face in his media, and doesn’t write his lyrics down. “How you perceive me is up to you,” he says.
Despite over one million streams on Spotify and Apple Music, and another half million on SoundCloud, King H is not driven by stats, money, or fame. He’s driven by the will to, in his words, “be the greatest rapper.”
This passion started in high school at Dr. Charles Best, when King H began battle-rapping classmates at lunch and after school. King H says he was regarded as the best — “nobody [else] could compete [with me].” His friends convinced him to incorporate his funny punch lines into catchy melodies to make songs.
For King H, there’s no reason to not strive to be the greatest, to one day be looked up to and debated like Kendrick, Jay-Z, Nas, Eminem, and the other greats. As he says, “Nobody goes to the Olympics because they want the bronze.”
King H takes lots of inspiration from his favourite rapper, Eminem: “He’s raw, ruthless, very clever, and he speaks his mind.” His originality, unwillingness to restrain his lyrics, and his overcoming obstacles give King H an example to follow, as he strives to change Vancouver’s sound. “Nobody knows the Vancouver hip-hop scene. We have lots of famous people like Nickelback [and] Michael Bublé, but no rappers.”
King H wants to change that as an independent artist, emphasizing, “There’s no connections, it’s just us and the music. I want the music to speak for itself.” He cites the rapper, Logic, as an example of making it independent. “If you don’t care about your craft, then who will?” he asks.
For everyone, especially SFU students, King H says you have to “master your craft, no matter what it is. If you love writing, sports, music, research, whatever it is, you strive to be the best. It’s better not to do it at all than to half-ass it.”
King H released Next Up over every streaming service, as well as YouTube and SoundCloud, so there’s no excuse not to listen. However he’s more concerned with people hearing him than revenue: “If people can’t access my album in any other way, they can email me and I’ll send it for free. I just want my music to be heard.”
For King H, his time at SFU has been formative. “SFU has been dope. I’ve networked, made connections like Korrvpt and Frontrvnners Streetwear.
“At SFU, people share their passions. If you were to contact a [non-SFU] designer, they’ll mostly want your money.”
Even though he has sold out at Fortune Sound Club and has events scheduled for Alexander Gastown and FiveSixty, King H is still hoping he can bring his music back to campus by doing more shows at the Highland Pub.