Millenials are grossly obsessed with our imperfections. If you spend twenty minutes on social media you’ll see the evidence. Twitter operates on a 24/7 meme cycle: we circulate jokes that operate as mirrors of our most unattractive social traits. There’s Crying Michael Jordan to soften an L. Blurry Mr Krabs when you’ve been caught out there. Memes to say, “hey, look, my scumbag-ness looks like your scumbag-ness”. We share because we relate. Because someone somewhere somehow has managed to draw a perfect comic portrait of our ugliest behaviours.
J Hus has managed to do the same thing with Common Sense.
Common Sense is filthy. Cover your ears filthy. Filthy like your Twitter drafts at 2am. J Hus says exactly what you’re secretly judging yourself for typing into someone’s DMs after they posted that newly single thirst trap. Somewhere in the middle of listening to ‘Closed Doors’, I had to pause the track because I was disgusted. And not disgusted in that ‘generally, I think rap is misogynistic’ way, to quote Kanye West. I felt disgusted because I felt personally attacked. Common Sense is filthy because it’s down to earth. It’s too real. It’s calling us all out for our behaviour, and @‘ing us brazenly in public.
‘Closed Doors’ is the ultimate hook up anthem for post-Nando’s millennial daters who have managed to condense dating culture down to its most basic form: orchestrating hook ups through our phones. J Hus manages to make that “you up?” text sound cute: “Baby pay me a visit / why you chilling by yourself at home?”. And when he says “Before you come through /beg you grab man some rizzla” I grin, because I have a variation of that same text somewhere on my phone. J Hus raps adorable things like ‘I’ll give you sweet loving” and “Is it strange if I sit back and just pree you?”. It’s modern day romance. Then on the same track he switches, raps: “Put my finger in your coochie, then I put it in your mouth / That’s a taste of your own medicine.” Wow, my guy, please relax yourself. I’m listening to you on the bus.
Here’s the thing, it’s easy to rap about sex. It’s so much harder to make it sound sexy. But Common Sense manages to do that: the album is a dedication to flirtation. It’s full of women. J Hus shouts out big girls, bougie girls, feisty girls, posh girls, pole dancers, gang members, even his neighbour. (“I’d be a genius if I didn’t think with my penis” he raps on ‘Did You See’). But it doesn’t come out in that cliche way where rappers can sound like they’re reeling off preferences like a government census (““I like ‘em black, puerto rican, yellow or Haitian” is the line from Tribe that always comes to mind). J Hus is cleverer than that. Because the album doesn’t make boasts about sex. It makes banter.
The women in Common Sense have personality and storylines. Often, they’re just as doggish about sex as the men are. For instance, there’s the girl on ‘Plottin’ who thinks she’s slick ‘“See the gal that just hopped in / say she don’t do this often / same thing she said to my bredrin / can you imagine?” But J Hus doesn’t pretend to have a moral superiority over her behaviour. The next line is, “but do your ting / I ain’t judging”.
Just like Drake inadvertently did on ‘Hotline Bling’ when he pettily crooned about a girl living her best life since he left her, J Hus has created an album full of women I want to be friends with. Another of my favourite J Hus heroines is the baddie from ‘Good Time’. The one he’s not trying to move to too tough because they both slyly know that, sooner or later, it will just happen. No need to force it. ‘From across the room, I notice you, and out of all these girls, I’ve chosen you.’ All the glances, all those stares from across the room… even this is all just foreplay.
J Hus knows good game, knows how it works, and knows most of us are too awkward or too proud to call it when we see it. He exposes how much we’ve become reliant on our phones for flirting, instead of picking up on public social cues. “I spot a catfish from miles away, dog filter to hide your face”, he says on ‘Fisherman’. “She wanna send me nudes, but ain’t no Whatsapp on a brick” he states on ‘Who You Are’. “Confiscate your phone, why you always on insta” he says on ‘Closed Doors’. He takes all of our awkwardness about sex, social interactions, and technology and forces us to look it in the face. He asks us ‘and what?’. Even himself, he calls Mr Ugly, but dares us to say shit about it. He knows we can’t. ‘She love a ugly man making pretty money’ he raps on Friendly ‘and I’m a ugly man making sexy money’. Who can argue with that?
Because what makes J Hus so relatable is that he lays bare to us to the secret that we all know, but pretend not to: that we’re all a bit ugly. A bit awkward. A bit gross. A bit sinful. It’s human. And the more we pretend not to have those traits, the more we draw attention to them. By trying to airbrush away the imperfections, we open a door for others to catch us out, to expose who we really are. J Hus tries to steer us towards the sweet spot, the only way out: owning your ugliness. Because really, that’s what sexy. And really, we all know it.
Listen to J Hus’ debut album, Common Sense below.