Form 696 Was Trash and J Hus’ Debut London Show is Proof
Bouff Daddy brought a new level of extravagance to Brixton Academy, something to be celebrated rather than shut down.
Photo by Jake Lewis
Let me preface everything by saying: J Hus entered the stage last night via a giant fisherman hat (in relation to his single “Fisherman”) and flanked by four Mercedes Benz cars. Using these props is a stunt – not in the literal this-will-get-people-to-write-about-the-show sense, but a more colloquial 'Lil Wayne “Stuntin’ Like My Daddy”, my debut album has gone Gold and I’m playing my first headline concert in my home city so I’m going to show out and show the fuck off' sense.
Alongside those beautifully lavish German whips and the largest headwear known outside of Jamiroquai’s wardrobe, Hus also brought along the usual yet no less essential components required of an upper-tier performance. Think bubbles, lasers and a humongous backdrop, upon which cascading stacks of rubber-banded 50 pound notes and various fire-like images were projected. To say Hus raised the bar for a live show in the capital is to overstate things a little bit, but it’s impossible not to see the statement of intent: give him a big venue and he’ll light the place up.
For the past 12 years the live music scene in London has been plagued by the infamous Form 696, a piece of legislation that meant any promoter hosting an event with a DJ or MC in London had to provide contact details of the artists, allowing police to carry out background checks. Though the police have of course always denied specifically targeting grime and rap shows, it’s often these artists that’ve been the most affected. For many acts like Giggs and J Hus, it meant playing a headline show in their home city was impossible – likely due to previous criminal convictions – however it also affected even the most law-abiding musicians such as JME, who spoke extensively about the Form in our 2014 documentary.
In short, Form 696 was a load of shit. It roadblocked the British music scene, it showcased what looked like an ingrained and abhorrent form of racism, it prevented – or at least slowed – many careers. So, as a result of the Form – which, as of last week, has been abolished – J Hus had never been allowed to play a headline show in his home city. All of which made last night’s performance more than a show and something of a moment. The kind of evening where there’s a palpable sense of excitement in the air, permeating and bringing people together at that one J Hus show – not necessarily one close enough to be in the history books (time will be the judge of that) but certainly an achievement in which the audience all shared. It’s worth noting that last night’s show had been booked before Form 696 was terminated, but that also means Hus managed to work his way around the form and cultivate a fanbase in his home city without even being able to play there, making last night even more of a celebration.
And what a celebration it was. Hus standing there among the collection of Benzs, bringing out guests such as Dave and Krept and Konan, fisherman hat behind him and a 5,000 strong crowd out in front. Nothing bad happened, good times were had, let this be a lesson learned. London is open and its stages are ready to be stunted on with increasing degrees of extravagance. Let the games begin. When you see him in the streets called him Bouff Daddy, Bouff Daddy.
You can find Ryan on Twitter.