At just 21 J Hus has firmly positioned himself as one of (if not the) most versatile rappers in the UK. There’s no guessing which version of the Londoner you’ll hear as you work your way through his incredible debut album, Common Sense. Hus, real name Momodou Jallow, switches feverously from the grit and power of London slang to the infectious sounds of Jamaican dancehall and the familiar sounds Ghanaian hiplife.
The lead single, “Did You See”, is a song that you can listen to one hundred times and still smile like a child as the now iconic melody plays. It’s both the seminal hit for the club and the track you put on at the end of the night via the nearest AUX cord to unwind with. There’s also the beautifully boastful “Bouff Daddy” – where Hus talks us through his new fame and his feelings towards it: “Nowadays I hate the attention / Nah let me be honest, I love it / Spend yesterday’s profit and think nothin’ of it”.
There’s a huge 17-tracks on the album which were all masterfully produced by Jay5, a long-term collaborator with Hus. The two complement each other brilliantly and their creativity shines through on Common Sense as no two tracks are similar yet the album still manages to fit together seamlessly. We travel from the unforgiving and powerfully frightening “Clartin” to the introspective and humble “Leave Me” straight into the cheeky and upbeat “Closed Doors” without ever feeling like we’ve missed anything.
Across these different styles Hus reflects manages to reflect his whole character, presenting himself confidently and honestly. One moment he is energetic and outlandish, the next he appears subdued and shy. It certainly left a lasting impression on critics as Common Sense received a nomination for the coveted Mercury Prize, falling short to Sampha’s breath-taking album Process.
It’s the record that the UK rap/grime scene never knew they needed. If the blockbuster releases by Skepta (Konnichiwa) and Stormzy (Gang Signs & Prayer) over the last 18 months have opened the door for grime acts to access the mainstream, then Common Sense has proudly waltzed through the now open door and taken a seat at the table. Is that what Hus aimed for? Probably not. The album doesn’t have the feel of an all-inclusive listening process, nor should it, for its songs are deeply entrenched within an exclusive culture that you’d be hard pressed to find many adults understand entirely.
Common Sense is firmly one of the five best albums released in the UK this year, not just for its exquisite breadth of genres on one record nor for masterful way Hus delivers each verse, hook and chorus. It’s just the brutal honesty that Hus implores throughout – he opens himself up extraordinarily and takes every listener on a fantastic journey that ultimately leaves you smiling and nodding along blissfully.
Did you see what we done? made a spotify playlist that’s what.