Everything you need to know about the ‘Did You See’ star
The grime floodgates are gushing so hard in the direction of the charts right now that you half expect JME’s mate Jeremy Corbyn to hit the Top Ten with a track called ‘For The Many Many Man, Not The Few’. The latest breakthrough banger is ‘Did You See’ from J Hus, a brag track about rolling up in one flash car and leaving in a second that brings auto-tuned soul, trap and dancehall elements to the party and hit Number 12 in the UK. But just who is J Hus? Here’s the skinny on the fastest rising star in grime.
Who is J Hus?
Born Momodou Jallow in Stratford in London to a single Gambian mother, Hus (short for ‘hustler’) dreamt of the acting life as a kid, but turned to rapping after getting deep into 50 Cent. After several stints in jail, a couple of friends offered to help him go straight by managing his musical output. They hooked him up with producer Jae5 and Hus began releasing tracks online in 2014, including early favourite ‘Dem Boy Paigon’.
It took a year of regular releases - freestyles that softened the harsh edges of grime and hip-hop with afrobeats and soulful, sung melodies - and appearances on the likes of Link Up TV, GRM Daily and SBTV for the streams to start pouring in. May 2015’s ‘Lean And Bop’ sounded like a summer anthem in the making and came complete with its own easy-to-learn dance moves; sure enough it racked up over 6 million views and Hus leant and bopped directly into the UK rap fast track.
What’s J Hus’ style?
According to Fader: “he creates a territory of his own that is instantly recognizable to fans of grime, rap, the cosmopolitan African techno-pop known as Afrobeats, and dancehall reggae — without ever quite capitulating to the stylistic demands of any one of them. As an MC, his street talk crossfades from staccato end-rhyme emphasis into slurry melodics more in touch with the American South. All this gets mixed with moments of outright singing. Then there are huge, earworm hooks.” We’ll second that emotion.
Didn’t J Hus get stabbed?
Indeed, Just a few months after the release of his debut mixtape ‘The 15th Day’, Hus was stabbed five times in Stratford in September 2015, but didn’t let a tiny thing like multiple wounds get him down. He was criticised by anti-knife crime groups for making Canning Town gang signs from his hospital bed and posting them online along with the caption "5 stab wounds could never stop me #AntiCh #F***DaOvaSide". “My past caught up with me,” he told Fader, and old habits caught up with him a few months later too.
A month after signing a deal with Sony imprint Black Butter records in December 2015, Hus was sentenced to five months in prison for possession of an offensive weapon. “The day I set foot, the whole jail knew I was there. People got nothing to do, that’s how it works, innit? All they do is gossip. Gossip’s what entertains them,” he told Fader. “It was mad. ‘Why you here? You not meant to be here, you had something going for yourself’ — it’s what all the inmates and that used to tell me. My song would come on the radio and they’d start banging on the wall, ‘That’s you!’ I’d be on TV. But I knew I’d be out soon, so I didn’t really fuss. I just did my time.”
The day after he was released, Hus performed at the O2 Arena for a Red Bull vent, his star undimmed by his stint of stir. And he was about to break out seriously.
What has J Hus done for us lately?
Post-prison, Hus’ fame has rocketed. He appeared on Stormzy’s ‘Bad Boys’ and Dave’s ‘Samantha’ and his own single releases have step-laddered to success. Last year’s ‘Friendly’ – a seditious synth ode to the more voluptuous backside – might have had Hus going on about being “ugly” but its nine million YouTube plays are certainly fair on the eye and ‘Playing Sports’ was a confident soul sizzler. Then ‘Did You See’ catapulted J Hus into the chart’s higher echelons and onto the frontline of the new grime explosion; his debut album ‘Common Sense’ is set to scorch the toes of Ed Sheeran when it hits the charts this week.
Is ‘Common Sense’ any good?
The reviews are in, and they're basically "oooh, my!". "J Hus leads a wave of MCs who blend the genre’s hard-hitting, distinctly UK flow with bashment and Afrobeat,” says th Guardian, “Hus show that mix’s true breadth, from playful braggadocio about partying, chasing girls and being, as one song title has it, the ‘Bouf Daddy’, to introspective moments such as ‘Spirit’, on which loopy synths and polyrhythmic brilliance meet Hus’s weary-sounding motivational speaker. The sound of the summer? You know it makes sense." "This sound now has an album to pin to the mast,” claimed Clash magazine. “It’ll soundtrack this summer, but don’t be fooled into thinking that its time will be up by September. It’s just common sense."
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