16. J Hus - 'Common Sense'
Release date: May 12
J Hus album for the #1 spot was really all that was on my mind as the P&P team was debating our ordering for this list. Well, we couldn't quite all agree on that, but as everyone who listens to this album soon realizes, Common Sense is a special debut. In a way, the British artist is like Drake—a rapper who can sing, a songwriter with a brilliant ear for melody—but where Drake feels like an outsider trying on different sounds and styles like costumes, J Hus inhabits the very fabric of the music. There's the influence of the African music that his Gambian parents played him, the sounds of grime and dancehall that surrounded him growing up in London, and the mid-2000s rap that inspired him to pick up the mic.
All this manifests itself in a varied album that is held together by J Hus's charisma, whether he's crooning about making love ("Closed Doors," "Like Your Style"), rapping about going to war ("Clartin," "Goodies"), or toasting his success over sparkling production ("Did You See," "Common Sense"). Executive producer and long-time collaborator Jae5 deserves a lot of credit for the richly textured beats across the whole album, but the biggest takeaway has got to be J Hus's incredible hooks, melodic moments that pop up on almost every track.
Highlights abound, but the personal storytelling on "Spirit," "Who You Are," and "Leave Me" give moments of honesty that might stick with you long after you've finished dancing to "Good Time." From London around the world and back, J Hus is providing a blueprint for the future of global rap and pop music.—Alex Gardner