(Black Butter Ltd)
Back after three years away, the east Londoner is polarised between feelgood summer tracks and bleak reportage – but he makes it all cohere, despite some terrible sex puns
At the end of last month, a series of cryptic messages appeared on electronic billboards in east London. “With da Burna. Boy you know I’m masculine,” read one. “I made a comeback as a villain & made a movie so sit back & get the Popcaan my killy,” read another. These turned out to be advance publicity for Beautiful and Brutal Yard (BABY), their announcement of the album’s guest features forming part of a lengthy, mysterious promotional campaign.
Everyone they were aimed at seemed to know straight away who they referred to, which tells you a great deal about the status of the album’s creator, J Hus, which only appears to have grown during his absence from the world of music. The east London rapper hasn’t released solo work in the three years since his chart-topping second album Big Conspiracy in 2020 and – his ability to do so held back by a spell in prison and then the pandemic – last toured in 2017: an intriguing corrective to the contemporary wisdom that an artist needs to pump out a constant stream of product lest they get forgotten about.