For a rapper who is one of the most violent, misogynist, and self-hating voices in hip-hop, Richmond's Lil Ugly Mane is also one of the most creative, unrelenting and relentlessly positive musicians of all time. Here's why: Ugly Mane is a master of voice, a master of tone. He doesn't just make tracks – he creates worlds. Operating under a host of alter-egos and projects, most of which aren't known to the public, Ugly Mane crosses genres, styles, and fidelities and, whether he's making power electronics, lo-fi black metal, or recording in his usual slowed-down style on the border zones of southern hip-hop, the totality of his music forms a cohesive whole. It all works excellently together.
While we're still waiting on what might be Ugly Mane's last tape under that name after the untimely death of his computer and subsequent loss of all the album's associated files in late 2012, the rapper has nonetheless kept busy with his usual array of inventive projects. The most recent is Three Sided Tape, an hour-long mixtape of Ugly's “instrumentals and unreleased shit” from 2008 to 2011. Pulled from the discarded flash drives, emails, and external hard drives which survived the death of Ugly Mane's computer, the 32-track tape feels more like it was ripped straight to cassette off of an FM radio station in the rapper's nightmare world. Distinctly southern instrumentals and chopped lyrics delivered in Ugly Mane's trademark growl are bookended by static hisses, found recordings, and bizarre skits.
Ugly Mane has always, more than anything, tried to convey a singular experience with his music. For a rapper who constantly expounds on the creative power of each and every track, this is as good of a mission statement as any.
Lil Ugly Mane
Three Sided Tape, Volumes I & II
- August 7, 2013