J Hus: “Having a difficult life is not really an excuse”
J Hus is a 22 year-old rapper straight outta East-London. He describes himself as being very diverse, mixing singing and rapping through a mix of genres, from afrobeat and dancehall to grime. He started his career by recording multiple freestyles and released a variety of singles, but his real breakthrough came when he released his debut album Common Sense. Back in May, when the album was released, it immediately peaked at number 6 in the UK charts. A day after the release he signed to Epic Records, a American record label featuring artists like Future, 21 Savage, Travis Scott and Busta Rhymes.
Last week J Hus triumphed at the Rated Awards 2017 by winning the price for Best Album and Best Track. With two awards to take home, he had as much to carry as Stormzy, the only other artist that night to win twice. Bearing all that in mind, and knowing the fact that he also featured on Stormzy’s recent album for the track Bad Boys, we could say that J Hus is becoming one of the big boys of the UK scene. However: he wants more. He doesn’t only want to prove that he’s the most diverse artist of the UK, he wants to first become thé sound of the UK and conquer the rest of the world later.
If you want to see J Hus perform live, you can do so very soon. He is coming to All Eyes on Hip Hop on the 18th of November at Vk Concerts in Brussels.
WIN WIN WIN! We have a couple of original J-Hus hats to give away. Share this interview publicly on Facebook, tag @chasemusicbe and maybe you’re one of the lucky winners.
I’ve read you don’t like to think in genres, so how would you describe your music without putting it into a certain box?
My music is everything you’ve heard before and nothing you’ve heard before at the same time. I’ve got a lot of influences but I remake and put together all the sounds that I like. I make something new out of all the things I pick up.
First of all, tell us about the album Common Sense. How was it created?
It took me about four months to finish all the lyrics. I just sat down and wrote down everything I’ve done and anything I could think of. I didn’t use literal experiences but I’ve tried to reflect on my life in the best way. I wanted to create music that I would listen to and enjoy myself. Meanwhile I wanted to proof that I am the most diverse artist in the UK. I wanted to use all kinds of different sounds but at the same time keep loyal to the J Hus that my fans listened to and loved.
I don't want to say I anticipated the succes of the album, but I've prayed for it.
Four months, that’s pretty quick to finish a complete album. Don’t you think so?
I guess so, but that’s how I move. I make music so frequently that I finished the album so quickly.
Had you anticipated the succes of the album?
I don’t want to say that I expected it because you can never really know, but after all the work I’ve put in, I definitely hoped for it. I’ve prayed for it. I’ve put in so much work, so I wanted it to be something. But ieven if I hadn't gotten this far, I would still keep making tracks.
Common Sense was nominated for the Mercury Music price, alongside big names like Alt-J and Ed Sheeran... But also Skepta! Have you met him before?
I haven’t worked with Skepta yet, but I’ve done shows and other things with him. For me it feels like he is an example. He is someone older that I can look up to. Skepta has been in the business for so long. He was there way before I started and he is still out there. Plus: he’s a cool guy! I can always ask him anything.
Do you think about the golden record for your single ‘Did You See’ as some sort of confirmation? Do you feel like you've made it?
I will never feel like I've made it because I will always want more. I don’t really have an end goal but I do want to be the biggest in the UK. And once I get there, I know that there will always be something else I want to keep fighting for. I just want to keep striving and keep grinding if you askin’!
So I would like to go back in time and find out how you started rapping. I’ve read something about playground rapping?
I have been into music since I was like 4 or 5 years old. I’ve been writing lyrics my whole life, even though I never really knew what I was doing. I always thought it was fun, but I never wanted to be a professional musician. It wasn't until the end of 2014 that I realized that this is what I wanted to do.
But I've heard there was a moment you almost quit music?
There have been certain moments I thought I wanted to quit, that’s how it is. But I know I would never really give up my music. It is just something I say when I’m really frustrated.
So what are the things that keep you going?
Just my friends and my family. I know they are relying on me and I need to make it for them. They have always supported me and they want me to do well. That’s what I do it all for.
Or spirit, like your song…
Even with all the money and everything, there are always some hard situations you come across and the most important thing is to always have spirit. Hold your head high. I made that song to motivate my peers.
Would you describe your past life as difficult or hard? I am referring to some past events, in which you got stabbed and ended up in prison.
I feel like everyone has got a difficult life. So I can’t really complain, I have to keep striving and keep going. There is no way you can not make it if you work hard like this. Having a difficult life is not really an excuse.
You will perform in Belgium on the 18th of november, how do you feel about that?
I always look forward to perform anywhere I go, so I’m always excited. It'll be my first time in Belgium though, and I know that my music is going up in Belgium as well. However, I honestly don’t know what to expect, I just hope to set a very good performance for my first time in Belgium. I love performing abroad and seeing how far my music has travelled. That gives me a great feeling. I would love to travel the rest of Europe and next the rest of the world and see the same thing.
I still feel like I haven’t conquered the UK yet. The rest of the world will follow once I 'm done with that.
Is Europe your first step in conquering the world?
First I want to conquer the rest of Europe, next up are Africa and America. But I still feel like I haven’t conquered the UK yet. I still want to conquer the UK first, that’s the plan. The rest of the world will follow once I conquered the UK. For that I need my music to become the sound of the country. I want to be the UK’s number one artist and I want my music to become the music you automatically connect to the UK.
Is there something you want to tell the people who are still in doubt about buying a ticket for your Belgian show or not?
They shouldn’t be in doubt, they should a 100% buy a ticket! They should never doubt to go to a party! (laughs)