Album Review: J Hus – Common Sense

By on Wednesday, 31st May 2017 at 12:00 pm
 

J Hus Common Taste album coverIt’s been quite a year for J Hus, the young East Londoner. He has made a notable transition from an underground Afrobeat, trap beat artist, mainly heard pumping out of the back seats of London buses, to a Black Butter Records-signed artist who has made one of 2017’s most anticipated UK releases, ‘Common Sense’. J Hus also notably made newspaper headlines when he was stabbed five times in 2015: luckily for us, he survived to tell the tale. His past street life informs much of his music, as does his Gambian heritage and Stratford upbringing. Despite being only 20 years of age, there is a unique melting pot of cultural influences that you would expect from an artist who has lived longer, and it’s this eclectic sound that sets J Hus apart from his peers. Most notably he moves effortlessly back and forth between rapping and singing in his native accent, to his east London twang.

[youtube]https://youtu.be/tsO01Nl5TO4[/youtube]

Title track ‘Common Sense’ opens the album and sets what I can only describe as a pretty euphoric pace, complete with slick production from The Compozers, JAE 5 and Mark Crown. “The money had me riding brutal” Hus tells us on ‘Bouf Daddy’, a toe-tapping track conjuring up a nighttime ride around London with Hus in the driver’s seat. “Find out who you are by the company you keep / as kids we saw things no man should see” are the powerful opening lines to ‘Who You Are’. Now it makes sense how at only 20 J Hus is wiser than his years would suggest. ‘Clartin It Off’ is possibly the most hard-edged track on the album. “Smile of an angel / don’t let that deceive you / sometimes I’m evil”, the track takes us on a tour of Hus’ local hotspots, complete with gunshots and an aggressive letting off of lyrical fire. It’s imposing, threatening and most importantly, real life.

Reality continues to come through in ‘Spirit’, a mellow yet uplifting, anthemic sounding track tackling J Hus’ early days seeing his mother struggle to make ends meet and the hustling lifestyle that ensued. His resilience kept him reaching for more, and the track is nothing short of, well, touching: “Even when we never had a penny we always had spirit”. His tone is emotive and from the heart, while the beat takes the somber lyrics up a notch. With the words “All we hear is sirens and skeng fire / bill a zoot then build and empire”, he calls out to his fellow street soldiers to rise above their circumstances. ‘Leave Me Alone’ slows down the tempo, but with similarly uncompromising lyrics: “It’s like everyday beef with another geezer / they don’t like me I roll with a common squeezer / in the big Benzo with the drug dealer’. It’s a beautifully melancholy listen and shows us the light and dark opposing sides of Hus’s life and personality. There’s poetry to his lyrics that manage to soothe, despite their often violent tones.

This is not to say there aren’t lighter moments on this LP. ‘Closed Doors’ is an ode to the ladies, which J Hus is very good at talking about in his own cheeky way. The laid-back tempo follows suit on ‘Good Luck Charle’ featuring Tanzanian-born artist Tiggs Da Author, whose own distinct style brings a refreshing vocal delivery to the chorus, while Hus raps about the mistrust of others inherent in his life. ‘Good Time’, featuring Burna Boy, is all summer vibes, and other UK rap frontrunners Mo Stack and Mist feature on ‘Fisherman’, adding their individual UK flavors to this track dedicated to Hus’ signature seafaring hat.

The album draws to a close with ‘Friendly’, the track that blew up on the streets way before making to your mum’s Spotify playlist. It has Hus’ trademark cheeky lyrics, and Afrobeat party vibes stamped all over it. “She love a ugly man making pretty money/and I’m an ugly man making sexy money”, raps Hus, whose Instagram username is, after all, ‘uglygram’. Eclectic, original and full of street stories that deserve an airing: that’s what ‘Common Sense’ as a whole is. J Hus is carving out a future for himself and giving a face to countless young Londoners as well as bringing the party just in time for summer. I, for one, salute him.

9.5/10

‘Common Sense’, the debut album from rapper J Hus, is out now via Black Butter Records.

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