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Album of the month | Beautiful and Brutal Yard by J Hus

B.A.B.Y., it's the comeback.

Merry Christmas! Are you sitting comfortably? If you've managed to find a moment's solitude away from the stresses and demands of your nearest and dearest, now is time to reach for your headphones and retreat into music.

Over the next week, our staff writers and contributors will be revisiting their favourite albums from the year that was. First up, Lissy burrows into J Hus' comeback.

Artist: J Hus
Album: Beautiful and Brutal Yard (B.A.B.Y)
Label: Black Butter Records
Release date: 23 July 2023

Sounds like: The contrasts of an unconventional life, candidly retold by the UK's premier rapper

After three long years of speculation, faux album teasers and an unrivalled amount of hype - as well as a spell in incarceration – J Hus made his highly-anticipated comeback earlier this summer.

The first hints of an album started in spring, when a series of cryptic messages began appearing on billboards around East London. From "With da Burna. Boy you know I'm masculine" to "I made a comeback as a villain & made a movie so sit back & get the Popcaan my killy", these mysterious quotes alluded to collaborators on the project.

Beautiful and Brutal Yard (abbreviated to B.A.B.Y.), is the third studio album from British Rap sensation J Hus, released via Black Butter Records. The album includes collaborations with Jorja Smith, Burna Boy, Popcaan, Naira Marley, CB, Villz, Boss Belly and Drake.

Die-hard J Hus groupies will already know that the executive producer on this album differs from his usual comrade Jae 5, who oversaw both Common Sense (2017) and Big Conspiracy (2020). Incoming TSB's discography spans a wide variety amongst acclaimed UK artists, including Dave, Headie One, Mira May and Knucks.

In the years since his last LP, Hus hasn't dropped any solo material. The only new music he delivered was a guest appearance on Burna Boy's Cloak & Dagger. Although he did manage an unannounced cameo at Drake's O2 London show hours, just after his release from prison.

The 19-tracks explore the duality between the beauty and brutality inside the unconventional world of Hus. He fronts various roles from badman to self-titled Casanova. Though these personas are typically represented in Rap music, the Stratford-born MC writes with sincerity. In both regards, he paints a figure not to be messed with.

The cover art displays two houses: one engulfed in flames, the other enriched in blossoming flowers. Smoke and petals intertwine, creating a contrasting image that, together, form a heart - a visual representation symbolising the name of the album, of the good and the bad that's within.

In his case, Hus' ongoing struggle with societal structures, oppression and stigmatisation against his more playful, innocent and light-hearted verses on the album.

The opening track is a self-assertive declaration. INTRO (The GOAT) (meaning greatest of all time) is what listeners are welcomed with. Though a recurring trope of Hip-Hop hyperbole, Hus is one of few who can get away with such a statement.

Later, the album takes a darker turn, with cut-throat songs such as Killy and Massacre. These are supplemented with more coquettish tracks, such as Alien Girl and Nice Body with Jorja Smith.

Themes of love and war are present throughout, in sync with his earlier work. This is why we love Hus. His ability to jump between the beautiful and brutal in an honest account of transparency.

Crude and violent lyrics are found throughout the album, sometimes even uncomfortable in nature. Hus never shies away from gritty reality, even if doing so has made him an easy target to take aim at. If the establishment were able to cancel Hus, they would have done so already.

Beautiful and Brutal Yard proves his ability to ride any beat thrown his way and tackle the uncomfortable head-on.

He has not only helped pioneer a new sub-genre fusion of African, Caribbean and UK styles dubbed Afro Swing, but given musical identity to the growing proportion of young black Britons from ethnics backgrounds, many who are still fighting alienation and discrimination.

Is it purely coincidence that the British MC releases albums every three years, or part of a career cycle? Let's hope it's the former. I'm not sure I can wait until 2026 for the next round of J Hus heat.

Highlights: Militerian, Palm Tree, Alien Girl

Beautiful and Brutal Yard is out now. BUY HERE

Next up, Jo pores over CAMELPHAT's Spiritual Milk. Please visit our magazine to find all Ibiza-related news.

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