In a culture that focusses so much on image, M Huncho has for the most part, managed to keep his under wraps. His famous mask, recently swapped out for a newer model, has become one of the defining features of his brand, and only adds to an element of mystique surrounding his anonymity. Huncho’s perspective therefore is a unique one. Although he might not be the first or last artist to wear a mask (there’s even a shout out to MF DOOM on his new track, “Doomsday”), the disguise allows him to be more emotional and honest than many ‘real rappers’ will ever be able to. Chasing Euphoria, Huncholini’s latest offering, feels as if the artist is adding more strings to his bow and reaching new heights in the process.
The Trap Wave sound that M Huncho is undoubtedly a pioneer of in the UK has expanded over the last four years or so. The likes of D-Block Europe and Nafe Smallz have achieved international recognition, and Huncho himself has featured on some of the biggest records to come out of the UK in this time. This subculture of UK Rap music however, has been at the risk of stagnating recently, yet Chasing Euphoria has breathed new life into this sound.
While there are obvious stand out moments between the rapper and his long term collaborator Quincy Tellem, such as the single “Warzone” with Headie One, the use of multiple producers across the project give it a more well rounded feel. Chucks, who seems to have been brought into the fold through Huncho’s collaborations with Potter Payper, gets the ball rolling effortlessly with a Jazz-led instrumental on “Unappreciated”. This instrumental works perfectly with Huncho’s vocals, delivering a lyrically introspective performance across a dreamscape of a beat.
There are further forays into less trodden ground for M Huncho on this project, and this coming out of the artist’s comfort zone has only made the album better. “Pray 2 The East” with BNXN sees both artists flow smoothly over a hypnotic JAE5 beat, while Huncho turns off the autotune to rap with UK greats Wretch 32 and Ghetts on “Vivid”, which is a stand out track on the project.
It feels as if the man behind the mask is at his most comfortable in sharing his feelings and experiences on this project, demonstrating a sign of growth and maturity that is summed up on the ultimate track, “Sincerely, Dad”. This track sees the artist pen an open letter to his daughter and unborn son, signing off the album with Huncho at his most vulnerable and raw. It’s refreshing to hear these perspectives in this subgenre of UK Rap, and in this field of lyricism it feels as if Huncho is separating himself from his competitors.
With the album standing at 22 songs, it is important to find the right people as features in order to sonically diversify the project. Every artist on this album brings a different dynamic, whether that is the outstanding vocal performance of Maria Drea on “CC”, the noughties R&B feel Kali Claire brings to “S/o 2 My X”, or the dark, atmospheric rapping style of Giggs on “Lean”. It is almost expected now that Potter Payper and M Huncho linking up on a track together will be sensational, and they indeed offer up one of their best yet on “Me and My Conscience.” Furthermore, an appearance from Yung Bleu and a producer credit from Harry Fraud, most typically associated with Griselda, demonstrate that Huncho can tap into the American market and grow into a global star.
In many ways, M Huncho had nothing to prove going into the making of this album. He has already been a successful pioneer of the Trap Wave sound and delivered a host of stellar projects over the last few years, but this album feels as if he is reaching his artistic peak. The rapper has found the perfect middle ground between staying true to the sound that has got him to this position, and experimenting with other genres to create his most complete work to date. If M Huncho was Chasing Euphoria in the making of this album, it certainly feels as if he has found it.