Momodou Jallow, affectionately known as J Hus to his fans – and (somewhat) affectionately to himself as ‘Mr. Ugly’ – was arrested in June 2018 for possession of a knife. Handed an 8-month prison sentence, this was a cripplingly unnecessary knock-back for a 22-year-old artist with so much to offer in both music and persona.
An inventive young artist merging bopping Afrobeat textures with a slice of sensuality and raw realities in lyricism, J Hus is undoubtedly the proprietor of a troubled past. In the public eye, Jallow was first shrouded in controversy following his own stabbing, after which he posted an inflammatory image of himself in his hospital bed on Instagram, with the caption “5 Stab Wounds Could Never Stop me” and the hashtag #FuckDaOvaSide. While it seems harsh to condemn a young man for showing defiance after his own attempted murder, anti-knife campaigners argued that the gang gestures denoted in the photo were an abuse of the musician’s platform. Regardless of your stance on the issue, it’s undeniable that this was a challenging time for J Hus both personally and career-wise.
Since this incident in 2015, however, Hustla’s rise to national fame and acclaim has been more than enough to smooth over this negative press in favour of widespread recognition for his artistry. His debut studio album, ‘Common Sense‘ (2017), brought with it ‘Did You See‘, ‘Bouff Daddy‘, ‘Friendly‘ and a whole catalogue of raw unadulterated clout to the UK music scene. 2018 saw Hus release the ‘Big Spang‘ EP, a 3-track body of sun-soaked party tracks, featuring his staple brand of adlib mastery and fusion of infectiously catchy one liners with hip-gyrating rhythms.
Since being sentenced to 8 months in prison in December 2018, J Hus was no longer visible on any social media, with his Instagram – ‘@theuglygram‘ – having been cut down to carcass form. Presumed incarcerated until August this year, Drake gave Hus the platform to share the news of his early release with the world.
Currently on the London section of his much-anticipated ‘Assassination Vacation‘ tour, Drake has been, by all accounts, shelling down London’s O2 Arena over the last week. A long-standing fan and promoter of the UK music scene, Drizzy has collaborated with British figureheads Giggs and Skepta, as well as having demonstrated a penchant for providing spine-tingling moments for his fans. Just think back to his surprise appearance at a ‘Smoke Boys‘ (formerly ‘Section Boyz’) performance in 2016, with the image of him strutting onto the stage in all white and gold Adidas a true marker of the success of the UK’s urban scene.
On Friday night, Drake hushed the London O2’s crowd down to a simmer, the venue’s screens displaying the words “Welcome Home“.
“These are the type of things in my career that I’m just blessed to even be a part of. This is something I’ve wanted to make happen for the whole week, and I’m just glad I could make it happen with this group of people in this building because y’all been going crazy all night … I need you to stand up, because [we’re] about to celebrate one of our brothers tonight.”
Cue: J Hus enters the stage, grabbing Drake for a hug before addressing the crowd:
“I’ve missed you so much, I swear.”
Allowing Mr Ugly his dream homecoming, Drake vacated the stage to allow a triumphant performance of ‘Did You See‘ to unfold, the song itself a brazen celebration of success, youth and mischief.
A very special moment for Jallow and his fans alike, hopefully this will be the positive pedestal from which J Hus never falls again…