J Hus (Credit: Olivia Rose)
Up close with the Mercury nominee...

The narrow street outside of Clash’s office is consumed by a pair of Mercedes-Benzes.

Stratford’s J Hus wanders between them - one black, one white, as in his hit single ‘Did You See’ - soaking them in with a smile. Suddenly his attention catches a congregation of school kids at the end of the street. As he looks up at them, they hide their phones away and do their best impressions of calm-and-collected, unable to disguise their excitement at sighting the unassuming star.

“What do you lot want?” Hus shouts, a broad smile spreading across his face. “You want a picture? Come on then.” He obliges, getting into the centre of a huddle of 10 of them to take the photo. Only a couple of years out of his own teens, Hus looks more like one of the group himself than the pop star that they can’t wait to run and tell their friends and siblings about. It’s a role that he’s having to grow into, and quickly.

Momodou Jallow has matured into one of the country’s most exciting new musical talents, with his debut album ‘Common Sense’ currently enjoying a solid Top 10 run. “When you put work out there you want people to acknowledge it,” says Hus, reflecting on the fan photo opp. “It just means that it’s working. The music is doing its job. I’m very happy right now.”

To Hus, ‘Common Sense’ is just the opening statement in a lengthy career, and he’s already planning the follow-up, which he intends to be “twice as big”. He’s dead set on legendary status, and wants to assert himself as the most diverse artist in the UK. “I’m very good at melodies,” he says. “But I can also rap. Don’t forget that. I want to be known as a legend. I want to be known for starting my own genre.”

While journalists and tastemakers fumble around looking for a label to give his unique sound, Hus doesn’t pay it too much attention. “When I say certain stuff everyone thinks it’s Afro, but I wouldn’t necessarily say it is. It’s just the different sounds that I grew up with,” he explains, citing a blend of US rap, Afro music, Michael Jackson, R. Kelly and Whitney Houston as influences growing up. “I just want to represent the UK how I feel it is. I want my sound to be the sound of the UK.”

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Words: Grant Brydon
Photography: Olivia Rose

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