J Hus on Nike, his new album and slang.
Artist: J Hus // @theuglygram Interviewer: Olivia Dytor // @viatiadytor Photography: Ashley Verse // @ashleyverse, Stylist: Terence Sambo // @terencesambo Stylist Assistant: David Ray // @davidray, Grooming: Philip Eric // @philiperichair
After the recent release of his album Common Sense, we spoke to J Hus about how growing up in Stratford influenced his music, slang like ‘Bouff Daddy’ one of the songs from his album, and where it comes from as well as his style and inspirations.
When did you start making music?
How old are you now?
So you were 19. Before that, did you know you wanted to make music?
I always made music and wrote lyrics, everyone in my area knew me to be able to rap but I didn’t necessarily want to be a rapper.
Who or what are your musical inspirations?
Everyone. Michael Jackson, R Kelly, Usher, 50 Cent, Skepta. Everyone.
Is there one person that’s inspired you to start?
No, I wouldn’t say [there was].
What would be your dream musical collaboration?
I wouldn’t say dream but someone I’d like to work with, Jenna Agwell.
Why would you wanna collaborate with her?
She’s just sick. I listen to her music a lot, I’m a fan.
You’ve spoken previously about how you spent some time in prison, how did that shape or possibly change you? Did it make you more motivated to make it in music?
Yeah obviously. You wanna bounce back from that, it made me realise what I’ve got. It made me value what happened and appreciate how far I’ve come. I guess did it help motivate me.
In your song friendly you rap “I’m an ugly man making sexy money”, why do you call yourself ugly?
I guess just everyone in my area as a joke really… even my mum used to say it. So I just thought you know what I’m gonna say it before anyone else says it and embrace it. I’m pushing it and making it my brand now.
We really like your new album Common Sense at PAUSE, especially Bouff Daddy, what are your favourite songs off of it?
A song on there called Plottin’, “Don’t think I’m shy ‘cos I’m quite, I’m plottin’, I’m plottin’.” That’s my thing, a lot of people meet me and think I’m shy, I’m not shy I’m just thinking a lot of things in my mind, it’s a statement.
Was that the inspiration behind the song?
I guess so. I’m just plotting, I’m not shy. That’s the inspiration. It’s on a garage beat so it’s an old school feel.
How would you describe your style? Your vibe?
Maybe a bit weird and unique. Laid back.
Here and there. I like it. I’ve got some Gucci. I’ve got a Fendi Belt and Balenciaga Runners. I really like Valentino, the sneakers.
What brands would we find in your wardrobe?
Bare [lots of] Nike.
I’m just a Nike guy.
Why Nike and not Adidas?
With Nike, the crepes are better. The track suits are better. We just grew up wearing bare Nike.
Where did you grow up?
Stratford, East London.
Does everyone wear Nike in Stratford?
Most people do but they mix it up with other things but Nike is the main thing, that’s what you see.
How has Stratford influenced your music?
Heavily man. It’s very diverse and multicultural. My music is very diverse as well, I grew up around bare [lots of] different people and cultures so it definitely heavily influenced me. Also a lot of the lingos [slang] I use, people might listen to it and not know what I’m saying. Even the word ‘Bouff Daddy’ you don’t know what that means, but in my area, we make our own language. No one really understands.
Can you teach us some of the language you guys use in the Stratford area?
Obviously, Bouff Daddy was just like money man, bouff means money. ‘Bunda’ [means] a girls bum. There’s so many and it’s not like even like East [London], it’s just Stratford, me and my friends and I’m the one that makes it and brings it out to the world. It’s all of us that makes it, I couldn’t even tell you. I was talking to one of my boys and we were chilling outside my house talking to a girl, this was a few years back, and he’s on his phone talking to a girl and I’m like ‘let me see the girl’. He was hiding the girl from me and I was like ‘you don’t want me to get friendly with her?’ So I thought I’d just put it in a tune. A lot of things I say is just things like that, it comes naturally and if it sounds nice. Like even Fanta with no ice, I like my Fanta with no ice. Every time I go McDonald’s it’s Fanta with no ice.
Just injecting your life into your tunes. How would you say your life has changed, how have you adjusted to the fame?
It’s calm, I don’t go out like that really. The more people recognise me, the more it lets me know I’m doing my job. My music is traveling, I like it still.
You just got signed to Epic in the US, how do you feel about it?
The more ways I can get my music out there, it’s better. I want it everywhere. Anyone who wants to listen, listen.
We interviewed Kyle in LA and he mentioned you, said he was a fan.
Wow! That’s crazy.
What have you got in store this year?
A lot of music but mainly letting the album sink in and planning bare [lots of] tours. Going all over the place and planning bare [lots of] shows. When it’s that time, shut it down again.
What festivals will you be doing?
Leeds, Reading, Parklife, Wildlife.