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J Hus
Image: Olivia Rose

What’s the deal with J Hus?

Get to know the rapper set to define 2017 with new album ‘Common Sense’

By Amy Smith
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I swear I’ve heard that name before.
You probably have. J Hus is the 20-year-old Stratford rapper leading the charge for the genre-bleeding sound-melding bashment wining, crooning, irrepressible afrobeat and brutal road rap.

Wait, what’s road rap?
It’s the dark, nihilistic brother to grime. Check out 67, Nines and Krept & Konan.

What makes him so special?
His versatility and ability to knock out hit after hook-laden hit. J Hus can bounce straight from lighthearted, teasing dancehall pleas to paintstripping east London fury. Either way: one listen and you’ll be humming it all week.

How has he made it big at just 20?
Thanks to the success of breakout tracks ‘Dem Boy Paigon’ and ‘Lean and Bop’. Both were massive underground tracks – before he was signed to Black Butter Records – that flew furiously across the UK via WhatsApp. One famous video shows the residents of a Stoke Newington estate being serenaded by a large group of, mostly, schoolkids singing along to ‘Dem Boy Paigon’.

Ahhh so he’s a YouTube phenomenon, like Justin Bieber?
Ha, not quite.

Has he released an album or is he going down the strictly mixtape route?
Funny you should ask. His debut album ‘Common Sense’ is out now, the follow-up to hugely successful 2015 mixtape ‘The 15th Day’.

So what does the album sound like?
It’s the sound of clever backseat bus chat caught in a humid summer traffic jam. J Hus has the natty ability to dance between the playful bounce of West African dialect – drawing on his Gambian background – and a witty but frosty east London tone.

What else should we know about ‘Common Sense’?
At first listen, it’s a stonking 17-track dedication to chirpsing girls. There’s Lorraine, Marcia, the woman who studied criminology and the posh minister’s daughter from Upminster. But it’s obviously so much more. The title track is a bold opener with a heavy funk production, sprawling drums and sax solo. Beyond the brags, you glimpse a young man feeling isolated by fame on ‘Leave Me’ and the blistering drill rap of hood anthems ‘Clartin’ and ‘Goodies’.

Sounds good. Where can we catch him in London?
Well, J Hus hasn’t got any upcoming dates in the city, but if you’re prepared to travel beyond the North Circular, he’s playing Reading Festival this summer.

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