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Still from J Hus’s “Bouff Daddy”
Still from J Hus’s “Bouff Daddy”

J Hus will spend eight months in jail for carrying a knife

The conviction of the afroswing MC is the latest in 2018’s thorny relationship between the police and London music

J Hus, a leading voice in the UK’s afropop or afroswing movement, has been sentenced for carrying a knife, and will spend up to eight months in jail. Born Momodou Jallow, the 22-year-old MC was originally arrested back in June near a shopping centre in East London.

Hus was stopped by police when, they claimed, they could smell weed from his moving car (somehow). Officers reportedly asked him whether he had anything in the car that he shouldn’t, which is when he confessed he had a folding knife. “You know, it’s Westfield,” he explained when asked why he felt the need to carry a weapon. He also said that his “face was known”.

Young men that carry knives often say they are doing so for their own protection, and out of fear of attack. In 2015, J Hus was treated for multiple stab wounds, something he says has left him with PTSD.

Back when the stabbing happened, he faced backlash for posting a picture of himself in hospital on Instagram, making gang signs with his hands. The caption read: “Five stab wounds could never stop me”. Ex-Eastenders actress Brooke Kinsella, who founded the anti-knife Ben Kinsella Trust in memory of her murdered brother, criticised how the rapper was using his social media influence at the time, saying: “Getting stabbed is not cool.”

In October, it was revealed that London’s knife crime had hit the highest level ever recorded. Off the back of this rise, it has been a particularly tense year between London’s rap scene and the Metropolitan police. The force have scapegoated drill music and its violent lyrics as a key driver in rising youth violence. During an appearance on LBC Radio earlier this year, the Met Police commissioner said: “Very quickly, you will see these are associated with lyrics which are about glamourising violence, serious violence – murder, stabbings – they describe the stabbings in great detail, with great joy and excitement.”

Earlier this year, Dazed spoke to young people in London whose lives have actually been affect by knife crime, to get their take on the media and the police’s accusations that music is to blame for an increase in violence. They painted a much more complicated picture, highlighting problems with schooling, families, and a lack of youth clubs and other provisions. 17-year-old Nouf from Walthamstow said: “There’s no point blaming music. Music is a reflection of somebody's reality... Instead of attacking the language or the story, I think we should be digging deeper and asking why. Youth comes with really complicated issues – it's youth provision, it's the government having to work together, it's so many problems and a lack of role models. It has to be an effort from all sides to tackle a big issue like this, because it's really complicated.”

In J Hus’s case, it seems his sentence may have been directly impacted by his fame and musical influence. Judge Sandy Canavan said she would be failing in her duty if she didn’t hand him a prison sentence since he’s now seen as a “role model to many”. 

However, she also noted that this is Hus’s fourth time being caught with a knife in public – she said that this latest episode was evidence that he had “failed” to leave his past behind him. J Hus said he was sorry and said that carrying knives is “utterly stupid”, adding: “I was not in the right state of mind. I'm deeply sorry and regret my foolish actions.”