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Pain, Love, and Prosperity: J Hus and His Beautiful and Brutal Yard

The U.K. rapper’s latest project, Beautiful and Brutal Yard, finds Hus assuring his stature as G.O.A.T. in the UK rap game. We explore why.

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Idris Elba opens the trailer for J Hus’ new album Beautiful and Brutal Yard, saying, “Imagine if the heart wasn’t designed to express love or pain, but to express ultimate power.” As you click play on the album, the strings of the intro begin to swirl. The Stratford rapper storms into this atmosphere, proclaiming, “They know I’m a G.O.A.T”. Idris’ words instantly start to manifest.

However, the heart throughout this project’s 19 songs isn’t pain-free. The intensity of those feelings still exists; J Hus is now choosing to control them instead of being handled by them. He spends this album voyaging the depths of his existence, trudging through good and bad experiences, collecting every insight as if they were dragon balls. The result comes in the summoning of Shenron in a yard of beauty and brutality.

J Hus spends some stops on this quest strengthening his status as a pioneer. He plays a large part in the rise of afroswing, a genre that combines the sounds of Afrobeat and hip-hop. His 2014 ‘#Rated Freestyle’ is often credited as one of the first afroswing releases. In 2019, former Senior Urban Artist Manager Parris O’Loughlin-Hoste referred to Hus as a “genre-defining artist” when talking to VICE about the movement.

The rapper channels this position he holds throughout tracks like ‘Massacre’ and the Naira Marley-assisted ‘Militerian’, pairing his always-improving witty bars with the club-ready percussion he’s now infamous for consistently killing. Of course, there’s also the massive Drake collab ‘Who Told You’, which provides the sound on one of its biggest platforms yet, as the Canadian megastar follows Hus’ signature scattered flows we’ve loved him for since Common Sense. J Hus continues to traverse these sounds in honour of afroswing’s role in his ascension and a reminder to himself that he’s still the best. His love for these sounds is the source of his power. 

Beautiful and Brutal Yard also allows J Hus to take in the sights of his trials and tribulations, giving him a moment to reflect on what he’s overcome. In the intro, he references the adversity he faced growing up right out at the gate, spitting, “We grew up rough, had to carry stuff, nearly broke down, had enough.” In ‘It’s Crazy’, his refrain of “The devil in me, demon in me” alludes to the trauma of his tough times manifesting into an evil within his soul. 

However, he does not surrender to the struggle in these themes. They merely exist in the context of the album as boss-fights for the rapper to overcome so that he can continue his journey towards the beacon of triumph. The result is J Hus sounding more confident than ever as he tells N.S.F.W. tales of romance on ‘Fresh Water/Sara Kafa’ or unleashes barrages of bars on ‘Come Look’. Each track here exemplifies J Hus pushing through the lows, impaling the pain, and finding a new sense of power as he comes out the other side. 

The album closes with ‘Playing Chess’, a conclusion to J Hus’ quest. It’s a summary of his life as he documents his dedication to the grind, and loyalty to those close to him, assuring us that he’s enjoying the fruits of his labour. 

The peace in this cut concludes the goal of gaining power that fuels Beautiful and Brutal Yard. J Hus delves into his role as a pioneer, paying homage to the sounds that propelled him to the position he’s in today and using it to assure the world that he’s still one of the best. He locks eyes with the behemoth of his past struggles, flooring every internal adversary to make way for his barrages of ear-catching braggadocio. Idris may have prompted us to imagine the heart without love or pain in the trailer for this album, but J Hus proved why those emotions could act as pillars to propel you forward and why he’s so damn sure of his stature as a G.O.A.T.

Follow J Hus here and stream the new album Beautiful and Brutal Yard here.

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