The UK urban scene has developed massively over the past few years, and is in an incredible place right now. A key part of this is the emergence of what people may term afro-trap, afro-rap, or afro-bashment. Whatever you want to term it, J Hus is undeniably the father of the sound.
If somehow you don’t know by now, J Hus (Mamodou Jallow) is an artist born in Stratford, of Gambian descent, who found his inspiration to rap from none other than 50 Cent. At the start of 2015, he released “Dem Boy Paigon”, a tune that I personally believe changed the game as he came through with a unique sound that wasn’t heard before, combining an Afrobeats vibe with the UK rap sound.
Since then, many artists have been inspired by this sound, and although he may have gone through some personal ups and downs, what hasn’t changed is his consistency in producing banger after banger.
Today, we can now hear a culmination of J Hus’ progress and growth to date, as he has released his highly-anticipated debut album Common Sense, which consists of 17 tracks, with majority of the tunes produced by the young and extremely talented Jae5.
Now, if there was ever a tune to set the tone for an album, the first track, also titled “Common Sense”, absolutely does this. Co-produced by Jae5 and The Compozers, you can hear the bass from the pianos, soulful organs and soaring synth mesh to create an amazing sound for J Hus to come in and reaffirm himself as the main man.
He begins ever so confidently as he says, “Doing styles on them like it’s common sense, hopped out the Benz like it’s common sense”, and keeps this confidence throughout with his versatile flow, sound and lyrics, reminding anyone who may have forgotten how well he can spit.
He continues on his confidence streak as he continues to flex in the second track on the album titled “Bouff Daddy”. This is one of my personal favourites on the album, as you can genuinely feel the assuredness as he says, “Everywhere I go they say Bouff Daddy, Bouff Daddy, when I’m in the ends they say Bouff Daddy Bouff Daddy”.
For anyone that doesn’t know what “Bouff” means, it means money, and Bouff Daddy is the nickname given to J Hus by his friends back is his area. The fact that he can make such a banger out of a nickname tells us enough about his creative talent already.
On the third track, his mood takes an immediate turn, as he goes from confident to cruddy on “Clartin”. I feel that on this track, he was showing that the J Hus, which was more prevalent in his earlier music, is still here, and he can switch it up whenever he feels like, as this track leans towards a more drill themed sound.
Now, another one of my favourites, is the track titled “Closed Doors”. This one is a real vibe for anyone to listen to, but most definitely made for the ladies. What’s great about this track is that it’s recorded with live instruments, so it feels more intimate, making it obvious he’s talking to one woman directly as he says, “What happens behind closed doors, close the door behind you”.
The song that follows “Closed Doors” needs no introduction, as his hit single “Did You See” makes sure to steadily pick up the tempo once again in an album filled with an array of different vibes and emotions. This is one of the catchiest songs on the album, as J Hus comes up with another infectious hook, which he created after actually being dropped off to a BBQ in a Black Mercedes, then being dropped home later by his friend in a white one!
The video which already has over 14 million views on YouTube was released at the beginning of March this year, and shows J Hus chilling in and around various black and white Mercedes Benz. I’m glad he kept the video simple, as the tune was already fire, so it was important not to take anything away from what is one of the biggest hits this year so far.
The eighth track on the album is titled “Plottin”, and shows not only J Hus’ versatility, but also Jae5’s range of creativity with regards to production. The beat has a nostalgic UKG vibe, which J Hus flows over so casually, without losing the essence of who he is.
When you hear the lyrics “Don’t think I’m shy cause I’m quiet, I’m just plottin, I’m plottin, I got them where I want them, still got tings if you’re wondering”, you could easily assume it would be for a song with more of a drill or hood banger themed beat, but as usual J Hus makes it work, as he flows by essentially talking on the beat in such a nonchalant manner for majority of the track.
This album has many tracks that carry a good vibe and meaning behind it. One track that stands out in particular is “Spirit”. The opening line, “Even when we never had a penny, yo we always had spirit”, sets the mood for a track that’s full of uplifting bars that can resonate with anyone going through a difficult time.
Throughout this track, you can tell that this may be one of the songs on the album that Hus holds close to his heart, as he himself has had to go through many tough times and keep his spirits up to get to where he is now.
This is then followed by another banger which features Mo Stack, in what always turns out to be a great collaboration. The track is titled “Mash Up”, and displays the amazing chemistry both artists have when on a track together. With the pair going back and forth over a beat filled with kicks and bass, which they spit over perfectly, you can’t help but vibe to this one, it’s flames.
The mood swings once again on the following track titled “Goodies”. It begins with a small interlude as J Hus gets warned that people are after him, which is then preceded by an aggressive and smug J Hus, as he says, “it’s a stick up, I want all the goodies”, expressing his love for the money, or more, what it can do for you with regards to power.
This becomes a smooth lead into the fifteenth track on the album titled “Good Luck Chale”, which features vocals from the talented Tiggs Da Author. In this song, you can really sense the 50 Cent influence in the message.
As Tiggs sings “Heard they want me dead, heard they want my bread, good luck chale”, you can tell that it’s reminiscent of 50 Cent’s “Many Men”, where he raps about people wanting to take his life away, but no one can actually do it as he is determined to succeed and keep making money. J Hus is telling all those who are trying to stop him, “Better luck next time” as he continues to shine.
On the penultimate track of the album, J Hus provides another meaningful message with “Who Are You”. This is currently another favourite of mine, as J Hus appears more transparent through his lyrics as he says, “Find out who you are by the company you keep, as kids we saw things that no man should see, same time there’s no place that I’d rather be”.
This is inspiring to see from J Hus, as we see another side to him, showing that the dangerous environment that rappers sensationalise at times is real life. it’s not where anyone really wants to be, but it’s a part of what made him who he is today, he wouldn’t be J Hus without these experiences. It’s great to see that even with during his success, he’s not forgetting how important it is to resonate with listeners by letting them into your deeper thoughts.
The album concludes with his massive 2016 hit “Friendly”, and if you haven’t heard this by now, I do not know where you’ve been. He took over the clubs and the radio with his catchy bars and hook, and had everyone saying, “I like my Fanta with no hice!”.
However, I assume that many others like me, didn’t listen to this song for too long, as I feel that I’ve heard it way too much now, and was more focused on taking in all the new tracks instead. It seemed like it was maybe too old to put on the album, but was most likely a move by the label as it was such a big tune for Hus.
After listening to Common Sense in its entirety, I believe J Hus has stepped his game up another level, showing that he is more mature with the construction of his messages through his music, and how he has developed his sound even further than before. Furthermore, he showcases that he cannot be put into a box, as his style is extremely diverse and can be used on a range of sounds from Afrobeats to Garage, which he executes incredibly well on this album.
The features are well picked, with great understanding between artists on tracks such as “Fisherman” and “Good Time”, and hosts a range of different emotions and attitudes on other tracks such as “Leave Me”, “Like Your Style”, “Clartin”, and even “Sweet Cheeks”.
I feel like this album has displayed J Hus’ distinctive sound exceptionally well, and everyone involved should be proud. Listen, enjoy and most importantly support this album, it’s common sense to be honest. J Hus’ Common Sense is out now via Black Butter Records, you can buy the album on iTunes here.
Words by Reece Stewart