J Hus
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Music

The story of J Hus in 10 tracks

From fresh-faced enigma, to international trailblazer, we chart the incomparable evolution of J Hus.
Written by Danielle Koku
5 min readPublished on
J Hus is back. Steering UK rap with a hybrid style that defies imitation, and does chart numbers in the process, the self-proclaimed Farda aka Mr Ugly, Juju J, and Lead Militerian of the Jamba Boys remains one of the brightest lights in the scene.
Bringing together pretty much every strand of UK MC culture with effortless ease, J Hus' discography is one that genuinely has something for everyone -- but without ever sacrificing on his own unique identity. Fellow east Londoner, and production maestro, JAE5 plays a significant role in shaping this sound: drawing influence from dancehall, Afrobeats, and turn of the century rap and grime to create something fresh every time.
With his new album out now, and showcasing a more mature, grounded sound, we're here to cast an eye over Hus' best cuts to date.

1. #Rated Freestyle

Juju J’s explosive persona fronts his 2014 GRM debut, with a string of well coded adlibs that would quickly become ubiquitous catchphrases. This is Hus in his element. An introduction that is relatable, and almost familiar. He’s the guy from down the road, but he’s also the man that comes knocking when things go wrong.

2. Dem Boy Paigon

The term "paigon" is thought to be derived from Jamaican patois – a term used to describe fake or two-faced people. This broadside at Hus' enemies amassed millions of listens within weeks of its 2015 release, and became the de facto soundtrack to every summer house party. In one leap, he'd gone from your friendly neighbourhood rapper to rising star.

3. Free Up

Rounding off 2016's Playing Sports EP, Free Up is the song that makes you dump your boyfriend when summer comes knocking. It fizzes with the initial excitement when you meet someone new, without putting the heavy label of romance on it. The object of Hus' desire is an attitude girl, an island girl, a hood princess he can't resist or forget – but it's just a feeling more than anything serious.

4. Dave x J Hus – Samantha

South London meets east in the form of this collaboration with Streatham’s golden boy Dave. It's a kind of sermon – albeit with less actual preaching, and more keys. Between a church, library and the block, the duo show us why they’re over their growing pains and rapidly becoming the men of the hour. Rapping about mixing the “gentleman with gangster,” their cheeky grins show their soft side.

5. Spirit

Spirit is a story of defiance and strength. Here, J Hus returns to his roots, tracing half of his ancestral lineage to Ghana. As the child of immigrants, he knows what it is to "never [have] a penny," but to "always have spirit." Through the faces of ordinary people on the streets, he is able to tell his own story alongside theirs, which gives this typical rags-to-riches tale an admirable sense of gravity.

6. Common Sense

The title track for his debut album, Common Sense was the moment J Hus was able to make music, not just songs. JAE5’s production is at its best here, with the two playing off an older-sounding funk jam that blends seamlessly with Hus' playful brand of rap. Mixing old and new is a skill in music, and the experimentation on show here is clearly their strongest point.

7. Bouff Daddy

J Hus is able to consistently reinvent himself. Bouff Daddy is one such incarnation – the flyest hustler of them all. He uses third-person narration to describe a new life filled with luxury and admiration – think of the vintage Versace polish on his iconic Mixmag cover. The figure he proposes is larger than life itself, even as he seems more comfortable than ever being himself.

8. No Denying

No Denying finds Hus in forthright mood. He opens the track in his native Gambian Wolof, declaring that, with God as his leader and the world, his friends and his family behind him, there is nothing to fear. Keeping these powers around him, he paints himself as an unstoppable force with the backing of his 'Militerians'. TSB’s production, with its series of relentless drops, proves a fitting accompaniment.

9. Play Play (feat. Burna Boy)

Hus links up with Burna Boy once again, following his standout appearance on Common Sense. Here, the two seamlessly blend fore and gunplay to convey their masculine sex appeal over skippy snares -- echoing Hus' 'Bouff Daddy' persona to paint an aura that's irresistible.

10. Deeper Than Rap

Marking the close of album number two, Deeper Than Rap proves that Hus can preach to the unconverted too. Trumping expectation, he looks at himself from the exterior gaze of society as “just a roadman,” then looks within and sees someone who is “black and gorgeous.” Solitude provides a space for reflection on both his past and present, and he looks forward to a future of collective elevation for himself and his people. It’s the kind of sermon you wouldn’t skip.
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