Huey - Chasing Magic (Review)

The Magic Man. Huey. Following his 2018 EP, "The Calm before The Storm", Huey has recently seen a rise in his mainstream success – further elevated through his single, "Big Boy". While the single was released in 2017, it’s become more notable with time as it has gotten a second push. What his EP exhibited was his skill and his elite artistry – the project was vibrant, smooth and compelling.

But alongside the highs that his success has come with, Huey has also faced lows. He’s been forced to deal with depression and other issues in his personal life, largely due to the passing of his mother in 2018. That loss saw Huey release “Memories of My Angel” in remembrance and honour of his mother. While his music remained ever-so-beautiful, it’s apparent through every delivery how Huey was going through pain and darkness. So with all of these changes that have taken place in his life, Huey returns with a newly and fully forged 12 track LP.

Titled, "Chasing Magic".

The LP opens up with the title track, "Chasing Magic". The track begins with a beautiful combination of piano chords, guitar strings and a very subtle aesthetic. This suits the way Huey enters the track, as while his delivery is very direct and to the point, the instrumentation allows him to be able to speak in a manner which is uninterrupted.

Being known to refer to himself as "Magic Man" on multiple occasions, this is the first time we've seen Huey go into depth regarding the name as Huey talks about the concept of what “magic” means to him alongside how he's been feeling recently.  As Huey talks about how his own personal magic in different facets of his life – from wealth, to prevailing in life, joy and living well. Believing that the magic truly can be made real by our own efforts.

Introspective and engaging while maintaining the subtle word play, like "I'm not talking about witches’ spells". But he also challenges the listener's own inspiration by asking, “What does magic mean to you?”. It comes off as inspiring and motivational. A great opener thematically.

Huey manages to follow this concept throughout most of the LP in a very subtle manner and in cohesion. And while he doesn't always make it evident by using that specific phrase, it still shows in his lyrics how he's grown as a person through his experiences. He basically explains how seeking to become a better individual is, in a sense, chasing your magic.

Many of the tracks on the LP also carry this minimalistic approach. The effect makes Huey's hooks and words stand out. And while he isn't always the most lyrical rapper, he is a very genuine one. Trading complexity in ability for easier to understand and more relatable experiences and stories. And that statements isn't a suggestion that he's a slouch on the mic either because he has ferocious punchlines, alluring rhyme density and plenty of flows.

Many of the songs are accompanied by good and memorable hooks for the most part, even though some don't resonate with me at times. Despite Huey's minimalist approach, it's evident that he manages to still become more versatile in his sound. What many rappers lack is an ear. Something which is probably Huey’s biggest asset, it allows him to understand his own capabilities and find the right features to attain a specific sound.

As tracks like "Pools", "Masechaba's Song", and "Tron's Interlude" (all featuring Tron Pyre), see Huey adopt a more obscure sound that comes from Tron's influence. As Huey not only uses his vocals more often in these songs but uses Tron as an additional voice that adds to the background through Tron's angelic voice. The slower tempo and vocals create an emotional connection with the listener.

In fact, "Tron's Interlude" (track 9) goes back to the idea of Chasing Magic, as it sees Huey talk about the power of the tongue, over high octave piano keys which seem expressive of joy. With Tron's high vocals in the background, the song indicates change. In the two previous songs where Tron features, as ''Pools" (track 3) and "Masechaba's Song" (track 6), Huey was more solemn and expressive of the pain he’s been dealt.

While these songs differ from many of the others in the LP, as they saw Huey going in the opposite direction in terms of approach. With a style we've seen cater for him in the past, making use of more vibrant and energetic tempos. They showcase his rapping ability, flamboyance and self-analysis.

As tracks such as "Fill Me Up" and the lead single, "Luv Yourself" see Huey using different tones in his voice and delivery with a catchy hook, capable of carrying the vibe by himself. While tracks like "Red Lights" and "A Westside Story" dive more into a serious nature and Huey's ability to carry a story by himself.

Huey also shows his ability to work alongside others. On "Stay Up", featuring ThandoNje and Tyson S.T., the trio’s chemistry is unmatched – as ThandoNje's sings a pulse-driving and strong bridge in between both rappers’ verses. Huey’s verse is impressive and skilful, but the moment belongs to Tyson S.T. He goes OFFwith a very multi-layered verse detailing gun violence, death, his relationships and much more. Filled with insane quotables and wordplay, flow switches, an imposing delivery and a smooth cadence, there’s only one word for this verse. Elite.

I be tryna boost niggas, they bring news to my face.
It’s nothing true, figure rumours move like Bolt in a race.
They say my girl at the club and left to somebody’s place.
I say, my ex was an option that I chose to delay.

I got friends in high places; you can meet them in the grave.

Some people never change, they only move with their lips,
Foul words don't fill plates, I got a pot full of wings”.

One of the standouts in the tracklist, which saw Huey take a step back but maintain his presence of the song.

I would only say that the moments where Huey's diverse sound/nature truly falters is in the tracks where he tries to evoke a sensual approach. As the songwriting comes off weaker, and the sexual ideas don't really come off as well in my opinion. Such as "Camera" and "Jaji Juice (feat. Farx)". Farx’s verse complements Huey’s verse well by using the same flow but he makes it his own. With that said, both songs are still cool and have commercial potential – the records just aren't for me.

What manages to drive home all these differences in sound and direction is the sequencing of the tracklist. Again, this points towards Huey’s ear. His sequencing manages to show off the different styles while keeping the LP focused regarding the themes and progress of the narrative of "Chasing Magic".

The last track, "Stand By Me", also serves as an amazing anchor and outro. As it sees Huey go back to moments in the LP which were important. Reflecting on himself and aspects of his music which people can look to when they're looking for their own magic. He explains the message of each track and what people can find from it. Almost like an end credit of a movie. Wrapping everything up nicely.

Overall, "Chasing Magic" is a beautiful body of work by Huey. It sees him deal with his internalized plagues and look to better himself through his idea of Chasing Magic. And while there are some slight inconsistencies, especially in the first half of the LP. The second half sees a large improvement in ideas and even in what he was trying to achieve conceptually.

A concept which he follows through with throughout the LP, at times more obviously, other times more subtly. He does this through the expression of the main idea of love.

Love of self – which relate to appreciating yourself both mentally and physically.

Love of life – which relate to things like being appreciative of existence and enjoying the fruits which life has to offer through pleasures and wealth.

These two ideals show how Huey has grown, not just as a person and an artist but also how he's grown because of tragedy. The LP doesn't miss nor get overshadowed by its features. Filled with great production choices, which credit has to go to Luni (who produced and executively produced the entire LP) alongside additional credits on a few songs, by Dooushii (that boy don’t miss, shit is crazy) and Johnny Basz.

In conclusion, despite being a well-executed attempt by Huey and his team, there is still more room for growth for him, yet this truly marks a statement by Huey, within Pretoria and South Africa's music scene.


Written by 
Ipeleng Thobejane | Twitter @InsightThobe
Edited by Dithekgo Mogadime | Twitter @DithekgoM

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