Tell me, do you know what the best rap album of the year sounds like? Feels like? Beautiful And Brutal Yard just leaped to the top of the best releases of the 2023 list. J Hus completely eradicates the rules of what a 2023 rap sound should resemble.
The Londoner opens with a trenchant “THE GOAT”, caricaturing his 2018 jail sentencing. J Hus stretches his creative abilities by integrating skits into this intro to relay the sufferings and drawbacks he faced during the stint.
“They know I’m a G.O.A.T., they know I’m a dog, they know I’m a thug / If I got my nose in your business, you know it’s a snub,” he raps. The delivery on this part felt incredible, that uniform aggression?
And just as an opening song would do, transition into a trumpet call, “Hey, Hus, what you sayin’? / You good? / Where’s your mind at? / Do you know who you are?”, he raps. That inducement serves as a warning to listeners- “pay attention” is what I imagined this pep talk meant.
Track two, “Massacre” relies on dainty afrobeats elements that connect to his smooth trilling throughout the song. Lead producer Marco Bernardis managed to create a balance of his non-stop rapping over the leveled-out backdrop. Had he opted for a faster tempo, the song would have been a miss.
J Hus and Drake take on a club anthem number on lead single “Who Told You”, with a blend of singing and light raps. Hus takes the lead with an unruffled chorus, by fusing UK slang to express he is a “gangsta” that also enjoys a fun time. Drake’s contribution matched Hus’ energy precisely. This is definitely a bad boy anthem, from two of the world’s bad boys.
“Nice Body”, first teased by J Hus in 2020 wasn’t confirmed to feature UK singer Jorja Smith. Listening to it now, Hus blesses fans with his best duo record on this project. Smith and Hus bounce off each other easily, might I add satisfactorily. Jorja offers glossy lower-tone vocals that mirror his low-range raps.
Their chemistry in that chorus they sing together following his first verse is illusory. One could almost miss Jorja Smith’s faint harmonizing in the background, it almost feels dreamlike. This chorus is of the highest quality and the best from this album.
Burna Boy and Hus awaken for another record on “Masculine”. The song is safe, a little recycled like I’ve heard it before. Though, that is not to say it doesn’t have replay value. It’s solid, I just yearned for more experimental beat selections. Reminding the listener of his origins, Hus intercalates UK-coded drill tracks on “Cream” featuring CB and “Killy” with Popcaan.
J Hus enrolls West-Londoner Boss Belly for this raw, sentimental record. As you know, the rappers have in common their native language and country. On “Come Gully Bun (Gambian President)” they chant passionately about their country Gambia, and tell a story about the realities back home. Hus tapping into his native roots, and embracing his culture elevates the sonic quality of this album.
Beautiful and Brutal Yard is an amalgamation of his harsh past and improved present. J Hus returns with a project seizing influences from danceHall, afroBeats, drill, and hardcore hip-hop. Hus, this was worth the wait.
Listen to Beautiful and Brutal Yard below and stream it everywhere else here.
Words by Ruby Adele