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Reviews

J Hus “Beautiful and Brutal Yard” Album Review

Beautiful and Brutal Yard

J Hus

  • Genre: Hip-Hop/Rap
  • Date: 14 Jul, 2023
  • Content: explicit
  • Track(s): 19
  • ℗ 2023 Black Butter Ltd

J Hus has returned, and he’s brought a massive cavalry with him. The Afroswing pioneer has released his third studio album, ‘Beautiful and Brutal Yard,’ which features Drake, Burna Boy, Jorja Smith, and Popcaan among others. The eclectic set – which includes summer blockbuster ‘Who Told You’ – follows 2020 chart-topping sophomore offering ‘Big Conspiracy.’

Although TSB has done an excellent job executive producing ‘B.A.B.Y,’ it falls short of the alchemical highs achieved by Hus and Jae 5, the architects of his prior classics. ‘B.A.B.Y.’ foregoes the spiritual, foretelling aspect that lifted his previous two albums, and there is less of his story when we were craving more. However, Hus commands rhythm and rhyme like no other artist, and it’s evident that the Stratford rapper is having fun making music again.

Album Cover Art

J Hus &Quot;Beautiful And Brutal Yard&Quot; Album Review, Yours Truly, Reviews, September 23, 2023

A house with two ‘faces’ is the creative concept for this album cover. Above, to what meets the eye, the building is all fun and roses, but underneath, it’s a mad house going up flames; a colorful illustration of the album title.

Tracks and Features

It’s appropriate that “Beautiful and Brutal Yard” opens with Hus’s status-affirming sonnet “The GOAT,” in which he reminds admirers of his accomplishments as though giving a Netflix episode review. Hus is prodded to expose the true him behind the cameras and stardom as they go into a motivating talk with a friend. Hus doesn’t speak up very often, but when he does, the world pays attention.

On the track “Massacre,” which has a silky Afrobeat soundtrack, Hus defies expectations with slick-talking flows, street sermons, and the occasional sentimental passage. The record weaves together a variety of themes. Lyrically, it’s a little jumbled up, but that’s also why we adore him.

“Who Told You,” the album’s lead hit and a Drake collaboration, commands attention. Hus and Drake toast the world’s most audacious three-and-a-half-minute party with lab-cultivated levels of charisma and catchiness throughout. Before the tropical “Palm Trees” begins, the song “Militerian,” which features British-Nigerian singer Naira Marley, beautifully concludes the trio of P2J-produced songs.

The loved-up drill single “Nice Body,” which JAE5, Jorja Smith, and J Hus first hinted back in 2020, has now officially released. Smith’s vocals give the track’s string and hi-hats-filled concoction some melodic relief. Hus and dancehall powerhouse Popcaan collaborate on the track “Killy,” which features a cold-blooded club riddim and is almost destined to become a fan favorite.

There are only a few shortcomings. When compared to the duo’s earlier songs, 2020’s “Play Play” and 2021’s “Cloak & Dagger,” which appeared on Burna Boy’s “Love, Damini,” “Masculine,” featuring Burna Boy, seems a little undercooked. The swooning rhythm and melancholy strings of “Comeback” drag him inward and inspire a stunning stanza from the featured Villz.

Even at this point, the album hasn’t entirely settled into its groove, but as Hus half-slurs/half-slings his careless warnings on “Problem Fixer,” the record enters its groove. You wish J Hus had thought of something better to put over the top of the excellent live backing on “Alien Girl,” a laid-back yet sinuous groove provided by Nigerian highlife duo the Cavemen. Instead, J Hus chose to stay with a sex rhyme loaded with forced space travel allusions. However, you could counter that J Hus’s reputation is more based on his delivery than his words.

Rapper Boss Belly joins the two emcees on the late highlight “Come Gully Bun (Gambian President),” which transports us to their native country as they demonstrate their lyrical prowess and narrative abilities over sparse production. On the other hand, “My Baby,” is a welcome example of vintage thug luvin’.

Tracklist

NO TITLE TIME
1 Intro (THE GOAT) 2:13
2 Massacre 3:31
3 Who Told You (feat. Drake) 3:28
4 Militerian (feat. Naira Marley) 3:13
5 Palm Tree 2:38
6 Nice Body (feat. Jorja Smith) 3:34
7 Masculine (feat. Burna Boy) 3:24
8 Come Look 3:00
9 Cream (feat. CB) 3:23
10 Comeback (feat. Villz) 3:50
11 Alien Girl 3:11
12 Fresh Water/Safa Kara 3:57
13 My Baby 3:56
14 Problem Fixer 2:50
15 Killy (feat. Popcaan) 3:03
16 It’s Crazy 3:46
17 Bim Bim 2:53
18 Come Gully Bun (Gambian President) [feat. Boss Belly] 3:08
19 Playing Chess 4:04

Album Theme

“Beautiful and Brutal Yard” is J Hus’ extended but happy comeback. While the rapper channels his lyrical potency, problems, and sexual pursuits into one cohesive portrait, the musician lets himself to explore more musical territory than ever before by splintering the sounds between drill, dancehall, Afrobeat, and hip-hop.

Production Credits

Alex Blake, The Elements, E.Y., Fumes Beats, Gaetan Judd, iO, Lekaa Beats, Levi Lennox, Maestro ‘The Baker, Marco Bernardis, P2J, Sammy Soso, Stuart Hawkes & TobiShyBoy produced the album.

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