Release Date: May 12, 2017
Record label: Black Butter
If any single artist embodies the boundary-trouncing cross-pollination that's making hip-hop so exciting right now, it's 20-year-old London rapper J Hus. He's a total vocal chameleon, capable of convincingly switching flows - switching nationality, even - depending on what the track requires. A single verse can find J scrolling through the louche grind of Jamaican dancehall, the autotuned bounce of Ghanian hiplife, the aggy energy of London grime and the zoned-out drawl of Atlanta rap.
I f there was one thing you might not expect from 21-year-old east London rapper J Hus, it's a bold sax solo. And yet the opening title track of his debut album sets out his stall as a dude of unashamed groove by pairing his biting, guttural rap with some funky disco-brass. Not to be confused with plain old grime (so 2015, guys!), J Hus leads a wave of MCs who blend the genre's hard-hitting, distinctly UK flow with bashment and Afrobeat.
T he humid mishmash of cultures and sounds on J Hus's debut is London incarnate: bashment, "UK afrobeats", grime, hip-hop, R&B and garage are all manifest. While Common Sense finds the Stratford singer/rapper going indulgently long at 17 tracks, the quality is undoubtedly consistent - be it the richly produced Bouf Daddy, the dancehall-inflected, hazy Fisherman or the sun-drenched Good Time, featuring Burna Boy. J Hus imbues an admirable introspection to his bangers, as likely to bring in his Ghanaian heritage or consider his past illicit behaviours as he is to spit wry bars on smoking and partying.
If you're a rap fan, at some point this year, someone is going to recommend that you listen to J Hus, a 21-year-old from East London who raps with a gravity beyond his years. His music is boldly personal, and he's a technically precise, adaptive vocalist. He can hit complicated patterns, pack color into his writing, and harmonize more effectively than artists with decades of experience.
Afro rap, afro bashment, afro trap, raprobeats - OK, that last one might be a step too far, but whatever you want to call it, J Hus is it. He was tipped by the BBC in its Sound of 2016 list, but had his year scuppered somewhat by having to serve a short prison sentence for historical offences. He's since expressed frustration at this, but managed to bridge the unplanned gap with a quick burst EP ('Playing Sports') and has used the time that bought him to take stock.