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Fronting on the second cover of our Winter issue, Notion 86, is Manchester's golden boy Aitch, and we get the alphabetical lowdown from the man himself!

Proud northerner and Capri-Sun enthusiast, Harrison Armstrong — better known as Aitch — is Manchester’s current golden boy. He landed his big break repping the 0161 after his debut track, “Straight Rhymez”, clocked up millions of plays practically overnight (the YouTube video has 16 million views and counting). The track put Aitch on the Brit rap map, bringing him to the attention of Stormzy — who he’d end up dropping bars with on the Sir Spyro Remix of Ed Sheeran’s “Take Me Back To London”.

 

Since then he’s picked up a string of chart hits including top 20 singles “Strike A Pose” with Young T & Bugsey, “Kilos” with Bugzy Malone, and “Taste (Make It Shake)”. Then there’s the other milestones, like opening shows for godfather of grime Wiley, and hitting a million Instagram followers in the same week as he released his second EP, Aitch2O.

 

It’s a huge glow-up for the loveable New Moston college dropout, who’s gone from casual work on building sites to casually building his own Aitch empire as a UK music mainstay. You get the feeling that Aitch is as surprised as anyone that his particular brand of northern charm, tracksuits and formidable flow, have blown up so fast — and that’s why we love him. We took Aitch on a day trip to Cotswolds village South Cerney, to spend some quality time fishing and flexing with rkid.

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A – D

Why ‘Aitch’?

My real name’s Harrison, so everyone used to call me ‘H’ anyway, but then I didn’t want to be boring and spell it like the letter, d’ya get what I mean? So I thought of spelling it ‘Aitch’ and ran with it. That was from Primary school. Everyone that seems to be older than 25 says, ‘Oh H from Steps’, and I go ‘Who’s that?’.

What would you call your biography?

I’d call my biography Harrison ‘Aitch’ Armstrong — my real name but my rap name in the middle.

Didn’t you used to work on a building site?

Yeh it was shit. I didn’t like it. But it did teach me some things and I did definitely learn life lessons and I wouldn’t take it back.

When did you write your first bars?

I always had bars, I had little rhymes and that, but the first actual bar I wrote you can actually find on YouTube somewhere if you dig deep. It was just me chatting about how I could get all these girls, even though I probably couldn’t even get with girls then. It was just some childish little kid bars.

You’re a prolific collaborator – how do you feel about collaboration culture taking over the charts?

There’s bare people coming together in the UK. Right now I’m taking it easy with the collabs. There will be some more coming out this year but at the start of next year I’m going to be just doing my thing for a little second — unless someone’s featuring on my tune I’m not going to feature on anyone else’s for a bit.

What’s your favourite flavour of Capri-Sun?

The tropical ones are bad, they’re my favourite ones.

Do you watch Coronation Street?

I do not — I have done before and there was a certain year I used to be up to date with it. I don’t watch TV anymore ya’know.

Do you still roll with your original day one crew?

I do, exactly the same people. There’s certain people who aren’t hanging around anymore, one or two people maybe, but that’s just part of life, that’s not got anything to do with the music. Nothing’s changed, I’m still with the same team musically, everything’s the same — man’s still in the same area, when I’m in Manchester I still see the same people. It’s not good to put distance from the people who were there at the start. These people you meet from when you do blow up, you never know if they’re genuine or not. You got to keep your day ones there.

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E – J

What’s next after the AitcH20 EP?

 

There could be a mixtape but it could be an EP. We’re gonna release another one of them before the album and then it’s album time after that. But that won’t be any time soon — I’m gonna let people starve for a second.

 

Which football team do you support?

 

I’m a Man United fan from birth, from day one. Born into it, dad was a United fan.

 

Can you freestyle something right now?

 

Right now? I’m in a weird situation right now, I’m sat in the kitchen with my boys eating Pot Noodles because none of us know how to cook.

 

That sounds like perfect inspiration!

 

We can’t cook so we need to get our head in a book” — there you go the most simply line you could ever think of in your life.

 

Do you have a girlfriend?

 

Yeh I do. She’s my first proper girlfriend, it’s weird because I’ve never liked someone like this before.

 

How was High school?

 

It was good man. School was sick — well looking back it, I enjoyed school, I didn’t enjoy it while I was there. It was all smiles. I started spitting when I was 16, music was poppin’ round the school, I was getting a lil gas of the girls and everything was going all good. Left school, went to college — didn’t like that and I didn’t like work either. Thankfully around the time that I was deciding what to do with myself, rap worked.

 

What inspires you?

 

People being successful and seeing how people’s life changes. People that you tell have had a normal upbringing, like yourself, and they’re successful and they’re happy. That’s inspiring to me.

 

Your life has changed a lot pretty quickly — has that been a madness?

 

Yeh but it’s been good — I take it how it comes, everything’s all good and everything’s smooth and positive. It’s all change but it’s a good change.

J – P

Tell us a joke!

 

I can’t wait to get home tonight and take my girlfriend’s knickers off… they’re killing me.

 

The next question was going to be ‘who was the last person you kissed’?, but do you have a girlfriend at the moment?

 

My girlfriend.

 

What can people expect from an Aitch live show?

 

Crazy energy, bare crowd interaction and just a good time — a whole show, not just a little performance.

 

What does Manchester mean to you?

 

Manchester’s obviously the home town. I don’t think I’d be in the position I’m in right now if it weren’t for Manchester. It’s the foundation, it’s the reason I am who I am. I’m just that guy from Manchester and I’m proud.

 

It feels like you might be on your way to becoming a national treasure, how do you feel about that?

 

I don’t know, well see when it happens. I feel like I’m a good representation of being British and especially where the scene is at the moment.

 

Are you an Oasis fan?

 

My dad’s on all of that. Don’t get it twisted, I know a couple of songs and that, but it’s not my type of music.

 

Are you a political person?

 

Nah I’m not interested — not one little bit. I couldn’t even tell you what’s going on. I’m not gonna lie. I don’t know how ignorant that sounds.

 

What’s your process when you’re writing a track?

 

Usually, I just roll to the studio, see what beats my guy’s got cooking for me and go from there, I might spend four hours in the studio and not even put a verse down, I might spend four hours in the studio and make a whole tune. It’s all different, it just depends. If you get in the swing of things as soon as you get in there and I start getting it cracking ASAP then it all goes well. When you get in there and start chattin’ about your day and that, then it starts getting long. I could put a verse on any beat but there’s a certain feeling I get when I know which one to pick. I pick what I can write the best verse to not just what I can write a verse to.

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Q – Z

What’s the best Quality Street?

 

Either the fudge one, the long stick chewy one, or the plain chocolate block. The fudge one is number one though.

 

Who is your favourite rapper?

 

I’ll go 50 Cent. He’s not really my favourite anymore but I’ll go 50.

 

Is social media a force for good or evil?

 

I would not be famous if it weren’t for social media, so in my eyes it’s a good thing. Maybe too much of it is a bad thing, but that’s not social media’s fault, that’s the person who’s on its fault. Obviously bad things get put on there and I’m not bothered, but some people are, so maybe there should be a thing where you can’t say nasty things or whatever. If you need to promote something or get something out there, that’s where you go to. It’s a tool to make money.

 

Do you love the Trafford Centre and what’s the best thing about it?

 

That’s the place man. Now I get harassed when I go there, so it’s an in and out one. It’s a sick place. If you would have asked meten years ago I’d have said the best thing is Millie’s Cookies, now I’d say Selfridges.

 

Music has let you travel a lot.

 

I’m not the biggest fan of planes, but I wouldn’t say I’m anti plane. I love the tour bus — that’s one of my favourite parts of going to the show. The mandem might say it’s a five hour drive and everyone’s complaining but I’m like ‘yes we’re on the tour bus for five hours’.

 

What goes down on the tour bus?

 

Dancing, singing, Fifa, fighting, recording people sleeping and eating.

 

Is British rap over or underrated?

 

It’s not either over or underrated. The scenes popping right now!

 

V was a tough letter to come up with something. I had videos.

 

I thought you were going to say ‘virginity’.

 

Okay, well since you brought it up — how old were you when you lost yours?

 

Fifteen I think I was. I know I was in Year 10.

 

Was it a magical experience for you?

 

It was good man. I definitely enjoyed it. Would I say it was magical? Probably not.

 

What’s your favourite day of the week?

 

I don’t even know what day it is most of the days, I’m not gonna lie.

 

Do you know what day it is today?

 

Wednesday. I only know that because I know I’ve got an awards show tomorrow and the awrds shows on Thursday.

 

Is it true that your gran thinks your music is too x-rated?

 

She does, so I need to behave myself. She says I say rude things and she’s not listening to me any more.

 

She’s not down the bingo playing it to her friends then?

 

Definitely not.

 

Y’get me’ seems to be a signature phrase for you.

 

I don’t even mean to say it, it’s just a habit.

 

What’s your favourite Manchester slang?

 

It’s got to be ‘our kid’.

 

Do you have hope for Gen Z?

 

I think it’s crazy the amount of things that one person does that influences so many other people to do something — like I don’t get this tight pants and chunky trainers thing. That’s not just a ‘my generation’ thing — I’m assuming the generations before things happened the same — but now it’s on e mad scale because of social media.

 

You’re part of that too now that you have a million followers.

 

I don’t do anything out of the box to start a ‘thing’, I wouldn’t say I’ve started a trend. I like to think I influence people to be themselves a bit more. Everyone says ‘be yourself’ but the people that say it don’t even do it themselves do they?

 

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