J Hus is one of the truly pivotal figures in modern British music. ‘Common Sense’ already feels seminal, a true line-in-the-sand moment – accessible and refreshing, it pieced together afrobeats, grime, and more to craft a new fusion formula for UK rappers. If anything, follow-up ‘Big Conspiracy’ topped this – a masterful display of force and ambition, it dealt with some explicitly personal matters, a groundbreaking feat of sustained inspiration.
Since then, however, Hus has been claimed by darkness. Tackling grief and mental health issues, he’s largely kept out of the spotlight, his absence simply serving to fuel the mystery around him. In place of new material, fans have opted to speculate – a form of conversation that doesn’t truly serve anyone.
New single ‘It’s Crazy’ is the moment that clouds break. Frequent collaborator JAE5 is absent, but then we knew that – both parties confirmed as such online, moving amicably in their own lane. The jittery production, all woozy guitar line and complex snare work, is helmed by Fumes and the Elements, two forces who have helped shape the current wave of UK rap.
It’s subtle and sparse, a move away from the world-building of ‘Big Conspiracy’. There’s a darkness to Hus’ rhymes, cross-referencing The Wire with his own travails, a track that feels less like a song – gone are the summer-fresh hooks of ‘Common Sense’ – and more a punch to the gut, an explosion of rage.
“The devil in me / The demon in me” he warns, before grinning: “murder gives me a boner”.
A rejection of star status in favour of recognition from the streets, it overhauls his sound while tapping back into his earliest releases. The bass weight points to grime and UK drill, yet the inherently melodic aspect to Hus’ voice remains intact. It points to the broader contradiction in the song itself: “Why you wanna see the evil in me / When I wanna live my life peacefully…”
It’s perhaps apt that ‘It’s Crazy’ chooses to dial into The Wire’s vision of a blood-soaked Baltimore, specifically name-checking Omar, a character whose end was one of the series’ most affecting moments.
Is J Hus moving towards triumph or tragedy? It’s in his own hands, but the darkness of ‘It’s Crazy’ feels right for this strange summer.