j hus is standing out from the rap pack by being himself
Shot in the autumn/winter 15 Space Soldiers collection from luxury sports brand Les Benjamins, we talk to J Hus about his awesome Afrobeat accented party anthems…
To attempt to define 19-year-old Momodou Jallow by genre would be to do him a terrible disservice. Ostensibly, the Newham teen is a grime MC, yet his deftly delivered debut The 15th Day defies description bound by sound. "I'm everything you've heard before, and nothing you've ever heard before," he says of his music, which is as informed by grime as it is by Afrobeat, R&B and dancehall. His wordplay, which references everyone from Beenie Man to JME, also demonstrates a nonlinear approach to lyricism, particularly on tracks like Bangers & Mash - about dating white girls - and the powerfully persuasive I'm Coming, in which he dates a posh girl with a double-barrelled name, the Bonnie to Hus's Clyde. His breakout hit, Dem Boy Paigon, has been a street success, having clocked up more than 3 million plays on YouTube without an official video, promptly catapulting him to the same league as other new names like Stormzy and Fekky. Hus recently signed to Black Butter and is readying Lean & Bop, a playful single that leaves behind ruminations on road life and concentrates instead on rocking the club. "Initially I made it for my mum and my four-year-old brother as a song that they could actually listen to," he points out of the J-Five-produced single. "I'm tired of the road and the music that reflects that; I want to show that I'm capable of being diverse."
Having left formal education at the age of 16, Hus spent two years on the streets of Stratford, searching for a direction in life in an area that afforded little opportunity. In September 2014, he decided to concentrate on composing. "I gave myself three months," he recalls. "If music didn't work out by Christmas then I'd have to do something else." It seems unlikely he'll need a plan B; following a freestyle on Fli5star, he's since set fire to Charlie's Booth, played Wireless with Krept & Konan, joined Lethal B on tour, collaborated with Katy B, and exploded online, receiving over 10 million combined plays on YouTube and in excess of one million Soundcloud plays in the last month alone. "I could see, almost immediately, that music was helping me to figure out who I am," he says, commenting on his change in career. "I used to think I was useless, but music has shown me I have potential, that I can do something with my life, that I have a talent." An intensely charismatic prospect in a scene awash with talent, Hus is more than able to make his mark alongside the rest of the rap pack. "Rather than trying to be like someone else, or pretending to be someone else, you have to be yourself. No one can be a better J Hus than J Hus."
Text Hattie Collins
Photography Olivia Ros
Styling Raphael Hirsch
Grooming Danielle Kahlani at the Book Agency using Bobbi Brown
Photography assistance Rowan Hall
Styling assistance Sophia Drakou
J Hus wears all clothing Les Benjamins