OOOOH MY! HUSLAAA BABYYY!
2015. Drapers Bar, Mile End, East London. Dark, stuffy and energy packed. The diner-come-club plays out Dem Boys Paigons to its multicultural student ravers for the first time. Those with their ears to the street bop and cry out “AH-AAH-AAAH” in sync with the intro, the J Hus virgins tune their ears to be blown away by Hus’ energy and simultaneously memorise the catchy hook to be part of the sing-a-long fun. Dem Boys Paigons officially establishes Hus’ name on the UK ‘underground’ scene. Hus reloads immediately getting clubbers on their Lean and Bop with many woolly hats leaning to the side. Club circuit engaged.
Still Urban, Still Underground
Ring-a-ling-a-ling. Fast forward 6 months and Hus dropped the 15th Day mixtape. Free. A bargain. Bangers of course; I’m Coming, No Lie, Who Are You, Calling Me refreshed our ears. The 15th Day forged Hus’ niche: a mash up of Dancehall, Afrobeat, Grime and UK Rap. A fanbase solidified and hungry for more.
2016. A period of silence. Has Hus run out of bars? Fallen to the hood lifestyle? Is he unable to put out tracks? Enter the singles Friendly, Clean It Up and Playing Sports. Friendly hit the clubs hard, while Clean It Up and Playing Sports kept the hardcore J Hus fans palates appeased and whetted for more.
Another year passes, we await an album.
Common Sense: From ‘hood anthems’ to polished artist
Marxist theorist Antonio Gramsci said common sense is the values spread by mainstream culture. J Hus and JAE5 have created a sound that has destroyed the mainstream boundaries of genre and become the hegemonic culture. The sound of J Hus coupled with JAE5’s musical wizardry has lodged itself within our mind as an instant classic, the album’s brilliance is Common Sense. An aptly titled album.
But this is only half of Hus’ impact. To Gramsci, leadership is when you have established the position from which you can influence the direction in which society takes. J Hus has steered the direction of UK music, creating a new mainstream sound and enabling a new social group to become leaders. Of course Afrobeat is not a new invention, its 2011 UK resurgence brought the spirit of Fela back with Wiz Kid’s Dun Dull, Atumpan’s The Thing and Buk Bak’s Kolom. And of course Sneakbo has been playing with similar vibes since 2011. BUT, J Hus has blown the door open, just tune in to any radio station from Radio 1 to Capital Xtra and you will hear the new Common Sense of sound, the new AfroBeat, Bashment, Dancehall, Grime and UK Rap infused sound cultivated by Hus and JAE5. The sound has been adopted across the UK “urban” scene and become Common Sense: from Not3s, to Kojo, to Young Bxne, to Lotto Boyz, to Belly Squad, to Don E, to Vianni, to Dun D, to Hardy Caprio, to NSG, to Juls to Eugy and so on. This sound is no longer “underground”, no longer “urban”, it is mainstream.
Hus has more than met Gramsci’s definition of cultural leadership.
Back to the album…
J Hus and long-term producer JAE5 have produced a masterpiece for the decades. Hus traverses at least 5 genres, while maintaining his unique flow and trademark lyrical dualities. An ever relatable but more mature, finely tuned and personal Hus is revealed. JAE5 has simultaneously entered the Champions League of production, using live chords and Sax notes on the title track “Common Sense”.
The ease with which Hus transitions from harmony to rap is matched by the ease in which he switches topics from women to a life of crime. Not only is Hus a master of changing vocal tones but he changes the tone of a track in a quick sentence. Intertwined with the sexually charged lyrics, indicative of our hyper sexualised era, you will find brazenly honest discussion on class, race and social mobility. Hus discusses everyday traumatic experiences that are normal for a section of British, ethnic minority working-class and provides an unapologetic assessment of the paradoxes of working-class “hood” life.
J Hus is London’s Very Own, his style and flow embody the harsh yet vibrant multicultural city. His lyrics bring the reality of the working-class diaspora to life, while revealing the cruel truths of London’s underworld. Hus switches from Cockney rhyming slang to a Caribbean twang within the verse, while the perfectly blended Afrobeat and steel pans of the Caribbean match his hard hitting Grime lyrics. Aside from the abrasive London nature and delivery: J Hus is fun. There are lyrics that don’t mean anything in particular but the melody in which he delivers them and his flow just makes it work. Hus is the flat cap East London geezer who signifies multicultural London, with his interchangeable, African, Caribbean and Cockney accents.
This is World Music
This is World Music, it isn’t Afro-Bashment, Afro-Pop or Afro-Grime, it’s the music of 21st Century globalisation. The digital natives of the internet generation have access to the world, its cultures and music, and they have heard the world. Metropolitan mega cities London, New York and Toronto have generations educated in a diversity of cultures. J Hus is a fruition of this and his merging of Afrobeats, NYC rap and Cockney slang is wholly relatable to the second generation immigrant and many more. In a global world, a versatility of influence, flow, lyrics and sound is the future. Hus has brought forward a new UK Urban vibe that has longevity because of its diversity and adaptability. His is the sound to take British music to new heights.
The Leader of the Next Gen
Evolution and progression happens in cycles. From Wiley to Stormzy. From Bashment to Afrobeat. The UK Underground scene has evolved and J Hus is the leader of the New Gen. Creative, innovative, ground-breaking. Hus has created a revolutionary sound and space that labels didn’t catch. Not only is Common Sense an album that you can play again and again but it has changed the landscape. For this J Hus is more than an artist, he is a movement and one we will support all the way.