J Hus is undoubtedly one of the catalysts for the current trend of Afro/Caribbean influenced music we see littered over the UK top 40 today. His Mercury nominated debut album Common Sense will most certainly go down as a landmark UK album and will be one of the markers of what was an already incoming paradigm shift in the landscape of UK music.
He returned at the beginning of June with an appetiser to hold us off until the sophomore project in the Big Spang EP, and from the jump we are quickly reminded as to why we fell in love with him in the first place.
Little time is wasted in demanding the listeners attention and right of the bat we know we are in for a treat already. “Dark Vader” is present with everything we’ve come to love J Hus for: the wit, humour, cockiness and the meshing of East London and West African lingo.
This jumpy opener is complimented by JAE5’s vibrant production as J-Hus raps “black boy come like Dark vader…” as he weaves in and out of a myriad of flows, vocal inflections and rhyme patterns. This serves as a quick reminder (in case you forgot) of the heavenly chemistry J Hus and producer JAE5 share. This track also serves as a reminder that all the carbon copies of J-Hus’ sound we’ve heard over the past year pale in comparison.
Following the intro is the sonically darker “Scene“. A reminder of his versatility. He may have had a major stake in ushering in this new era of Afro-tinged British music but that’s not to forget his lyrical ability. Much like on his debut, J Hus is at his most personal on these darker, more tradition rap records, with ‘Scene’ finding him touching on personal issues, hood politics.
“All the bread I had to break for my bredrin’s sake / All my n***as in the can I just pray and I wait / Had a dream that my n***a, Pitch broke out” he raps on the third verse in this banger that will undoubtedly win over the streets.
The EP closer and arguably the standout track “Dancing Man” is a minimalist yet melodic and infectious record. The type of melody that seeps in your conscience and you find yourself humming the chorus as you are going about your day. JAE5’s stripped down guitar instrumental work perfectly with J-Hus’ harmonising. The song is littered with West African vernacular and cultural references such as “Our fingers click when we take chance”.
J Hus and JAE5 share an unmatched chemistry. Their understanding of one another’s key strengths has created profound moments on this EP and its predecessor. JAE5 is able to create the perfect canvas for J Hus’ unpredictable approach, making for a dream duo.
The music presented clearly shows the workings of two individuals who worked through many ideas, numerous drafts and this record is testament to that. Many of the ideas displayed here can’t be executed without many ideas being thrown against the wall.
My belief is that his debut Common Sense is a landmark album in the UK urban scene which will appreciate over time. J-Hus is without doubt a national treasure. A standalone artist, who despite having a major stake in the contemporary sound that is currently running British radio he chooses not to rely on it or even bother to call out carbon copies, because as we all know no one can do it quite like him. No one.
We are reminded time and time again throughout this EP as to why J Hus is regarded as the Golden Boy. The quotables, the personality and cockiness are all ever-present. Anticipation for his sophomore release has only been intensified and it will be interesting to see where J-Hus could potentially take us next.
J Hus Big Spang EP is out now via Black Butter Records, purchase it on iTunes here and stream it below.
words by Menelik Henriques-Pedro