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Live review: J Hus at the O2 Brixton Academy

Georgia Dack

Georgia is the website entertainment editor and is also an English literature and Film student; she (unsurprisingly) enjoys & likes to write about cinema, tv shows, books, music, and culture.

What an extraordinary year it has been for J Hus. He topped off 2017 with an incredible first headline show at the O2 Brixton Academy in London, celebrating his homecoming with extravagance. But for many artists such as J Hus and fans of British hip-hop, the journey has not been easy.

At the end of last week, it was announced that “Form 696” was being scrapped after newly elected London Mayor Sadiq Khan had called for a review of the form. Since 2005, promoters and licensees have been asked to complete a “Form 696” as a risk assessment for hosting music events with DJs and MCs across the capital. As a result, many artists in the grime and UK rap scene accused the London Metropolitan Police of racism, accusing the form as a direct target towards black youths. It is no coincidence that the form was introduced back in 2005. It was introduced after the grime scene began to break into the mainstream with the likes of Dizzee Rascal seeing immense success in both the charts and music reviews. Grime music is primarily produced by black artists, and at least in 2005, its main consumers were black.

Twelve years later and the grime scene is healthy after a popular resurgence in 2014, and with perfect timing comes J Hus, who has just had an extravagant and successful first headline show in London. Stratford born and raised with a Gambian mother, J Hus is a truly unique artist, and one who is difficult to categorise. Though there is audibly some grime influence, very little of his music can be classified as grime at all. A cocktail of UK afrobeats, dancehall, trap, UK garage, grime and hip-hop helps to define his sound; quite simply, there is no music quite like J Hus’. He began his musical career back in 2015 and after a series of viral freestyles, he released the infectious hit single ‘Lean & Bop’. Earlier this year, he released the Mercury Prize-nominated Common Sense, one of the best British albums to come out this year, with many touting it as a future classic.

With J Hus being one of my favourite artists, and having booked my tickets several months ago, I was particularly excited for this show. To my disappointment, in the excitement of buying tickets, I must have accidentally bought the wrong tickets, which meant I was in the “circle” (the balcony) in the venue. Despite not being able to be in the moshpits, which is arguably one of the best parts of experiencing live music, I was still excited to see the show.

The supporting acts were Young T and Bugsey, NSG and DC, and while they all brought a lot of energy to the eager young crowd, they simply could not match up to the legendary show J Hus was about to put on. On stage, there were four Mercedes-Benz motors and a giant rotating fisherman’s hat (in reference to the song ‘Fisherman’). As the fisherman’s hat rotated to reveal a full live band, J Hus emerged and performed the title track ‘Common Sense’. Audience members were given a plastic band, which I did not think much of until J Hus performed ‘Closed Doors’, and simultaneously everyone’s bands lit up in fluorescent blue. On stage, with a large screen which had visuals for each song, the lights flashed and flames flew, making it a visually stunning show.

When J Hus began to perform ‘Mash Up’, featured artist MoStack joined him on stage to perform his verse, and later Krept and Konan then came on to perform MoStack’s track ‘Liar Liar (Remix)’. Later on, as if the audience could not be embarrassed with enough riches, Dave came on stage to perform his track ‘Samantha’, on which J Hus features . I wish I did not have to imagine what it was like to be in those moshpits, but they looked incredible. J Hus’ performance of the track ‘Clartin’ encouraged the biggest ones, and from what I saw they were mad; I was, however, just glad to be there.

Finally, he concluded the show with his biggest hit yet, ‘Did You See’, and what an apt song indeed; he left myself and the 5000-plus strong crowd marvelling at what he had just done and how far the lad from East London has come.

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