Aitch can’t keep track of everywhere he’s been recently: Australia, Canada, Greece, Ibiza… But now, he’s back to his favorite place. No matter how many homes he bought after bursting into rap stardom with 2018’s “Straight Rhymez,” he still loves coming home to Manchester, the home he grew up in.
“When I’m usually at my friend’s house during the day, I always like to come home the next day,” says 22-year-old Harrison Armstrong. “But being busy traveling around the world and then coming home, knowing you only have two days before heading back somewhere else, I appreciate home more than 10 million times.”
It’s a bit surprising that he named his debut album Near the house. Everything about his burgeoning career up to this point comes within a short radius of his childhood home in New Moston, Manchester. The first time he rapped for anyone, his friend recorded the freestyle and uploaded it to YouTube without Aitch’s knowledge, marking 4 years of a high and high score collaboration with people like Ashanti, Ed Sheeran, Stormzy, etc. Before Aitch could understand what was going on, strangers arrived at his parents’ house, looking for a piece of the then 19 year old boy. He put his town on the map, and now, with his first album, he’s put it back.
From her old bedroom, Aitch talks to GQ about vulnerable rapping, compare it to Jack Harlow and the unreleased Lil Baby verse that fans have come to love.
You were featured on Ed Sheeran’s “Take Me Back to London” remix, and now he’s returning the favor, singing on your new song, “My G.” Why is Ed the right voice to raise such a personal touch on your sister, Gracie?
I sent him a video of my sister singing one of his songs. It was “Love Yourself” by Justin Bieber, but Ed wrote it. She’s 12 now, but at the time of the video, she’s probably eight, nine. She loves Ed. And then Fraser T. Smith, who I did the song with, was Ed’s good friend. When are we? [were] trying to decide who to wear, it’s like, it’s just right. We asked Ed. He said yes immediately.
What do you get out of your relationship with Gracie, who has Down syndrome, keeping you from going anywhere else in your life?
It’s a real relationship, you can find it in other places, but it’s harder to find. It’s a family thing. Do you know any members of my core family? But with her, it’s just different. She is so special. She is a character. She’s an angel, but she’s also naughty. She always swears. Around here, she’s more popular than me. People come to my mother’s house to go see her. They don’t care about me.
Does she care that you are a famous musician?
She doesn’t know better. She’ll come home from school, and she’ll say, “Peter wants your autograph, but I’m not giving it to him.” People always say, “Can I get your brother’s autograph?” And she probably just told them all to die, if I’m being honest.
https://www.gq.com/story/aitch-close-to-home-interview Aitch is Conquering the World, But He Just Wants to Stay Home