“I was fresh from a war but it was internal/Every day I encounter another hurdle,” J Hus spits as he closes Big Conspiracy on the piano-led “Deeper Than Rap”. That war, and the highs and lows of Momodou Jallow’s life, make for a mesmerising second album. Lyrics address his incarceration, street life, God, violence, his African roots and colonialism. From others those themes would feel heavy, but delivered in J Hus’ effortless voice, with a flow that switches frequently, they stun.
The references are playful, too—Mick Jagger and Woody Woodpecker are mentioned on “Fortune Teller” and Destiny’s Child get a recurrent role in the standout “Fight for Your Right”. Hus is backed by inventive instrumentation encompassing delicate strings, Afrobeats, reggae and hip-hop and nods to garage and Dr. Dre’s work with 50 Cent, while Koffee and Burna Boy contribute to the celebratory feel on “Repeat” and “Play Play”. This is a record as diverse, smart and vibrant as anything coming from the UK right now.