There are contradictions scattered throughout J Hus’ third studio album, Beautiful And Brutal Yard, but one thing remains certain— the London rapper is here to stay. 

Hour after being released from jail in April 2019, Hus was welcomed back by Drake and about 20,000 fans at the O2 Arena. Helluva way to come back, but shortly after, he declared a hiatus for “the next 3/4 years, maybe more.”

After a short hiatus, only featuring on Burna Boy‘s ‘Cloak & Dagger’ in 2022, he returned with the project’s lead singles ‘It’s Crazy’ and ‘Who Told You’ with Drake earlier this year. He announced his third studio album, Beautiful And Brutal Yard, via a trailer narrated by Idris Elba only a few weeks later. Again, helluva return.

It’s widely accepted that Hus occupies a seat at the table amongst some of the UK’s best. If he were to retire tomorrow, his name would be thrown into the hat of British goats alongside Skepta, Giggs, Stormzy, and countless others.

He’s responsible for one of the most iconic Daily Duppy freestyles, and countless hits across two (and now three) critically acclaimed albums. What’s probably his most important attribute is the sauce and energy he brings with him every time. For artists like Dave and Jay-Z, it’s the lyricism and storytelling that makes them great, but you can find music cut from the same cloth. When it comes to J Hus, his superpower is that he is simply himself. 

One thing that fans appreciate about Hus is that he never drops music for no reason. It’s always calculated, and he always has something to say. So, when he started the album with ‘intro (THE GOAT)’, we listened. His last project, Big Conspiracy, from 2020 is arguably his best. Since then, 95% of his publicity has been crime related. The album begins in a holding cell before a door opens, unleashing Hus back to the mic.

As we move through the album, Hus showcases why he’s at the top, and has been for so long. The first two songs on the album show you why— who else could go from rapping on a drill beat about murder and getting rushed in jail, to one of the calmest and waviest songs on the album in ‘Massacre’. By the time you’ve finished the entirety of the 19-track album, Hus has shown he sing, rap, and inject his charisma across multiple genres of Afrobeat, drill, dancehall, and hip-hop.

Beautiful And Brutal Yard perfectly encompasses J Hus, the artist. The aforementioned juxtaposition between ‘THE GOAT’ and ‘Massacre’ shows why— one moment it’s the brutal side of Hus, the next it’s beautiful. These contradictions are the concept behind the cover art and themes that are referenced throughout the album. At this stage, J Hus has absolutely nothing to prove. Yet he still only gets better. He makes albums that are full of fun but with an equally prevalent dark side, especially clear on B.A.B.Y.

Since its release, it’s been shortlisted for a Mercury Award, and is one of the best albums to come out of the UK in recent times. But what did we learn? 

Importantly, we learnt that Hus speaks when he wants. He doesn’t feel obligated to drop music, but rest assured when he does, it’s great. Hus proved that his pen only got sharper during his hiatus, and that nobody can replicate what he’s able to bring to the table. After years of perfection, Hus has mastered his sound, and continues to improve his lyrical potency.

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