When I Googled “Lil Ugly Mane Interview” the first thing that came up was a q&a that the Virginia producer and rapper did in a New York publication called in the spring of last year. I only say this because my name is also Myszka and I’ve recently decided that I have to write outside my genre. One of my editors who I very much respect and love told me I had two choices: metal or rap. I don’t know how true this is, but tonight, it’s going to be rap and it’s going to be Lil Ugly Mane. I’m chalking this up to kismet shit.
A few weeks ago, I tweeted that I was obsessing over Lil Ugly Mane after my cousin introduced me to his music while we were driving to a family dinner. Then I found out Lil Ugly Mane produced a bunch of stuff for my soon-to-be tourmate Antwon (amongst others like Key Nyata, Denzel Curry and Supa Sortahuman) and that he’s played Austin’s biggest punk-clusterfuck festival Chaos in Tejas — in addition to his rap shit, Lil Ugly Mane made noise music under the alias Across — and I was even more enthralled. (Deafheaven’s guitarist Kerry McCoy was quick to tell me that I was “hella late” on this and then made fun of me for being such a behind-the-times-dork. Let me say here, officially, “SMD, Kerry. Go back to humping Drake’s boner.”) I obsessively played all the tracks on Ugly Mane’s Bandcamp page over and over, sunk into a deep, dark hole mirroring that of really good K and listened. How do people make music like this? It’s so beyond me.
Apparently, Lil Ugly Mane is retiring from rap and “On Doing an Evil Deed Blues” is the single from his upcoming final mix tape Prelude to Panopticon. This is the genius thing about what the internet has done to music: the artist can be, and is, in control as long as he or she chooses to be. You manifest your own career. You cut it off when you see fit. In so many ways, the MacBook generation was groomed for producers and not garage rock kids. Sit in your room for three days with a bunch of samples, cigarettes and go mental in a dark hole, then put it up on Tumblr at 6 AM while you’re still high.
In the interview with Lil Ugly Mane he said, “It’s end times. People need to open up to everything. The world’s a fucking swamp. Everything’s mutating together anyway. I mean people want to cling onto these banners of what they think makes something what it is and to me, that’s preschool shit, like I’m glad you can tell that a circle is different from a rectangle. Good job.”
This southerner is not afraid to create. He makes everything. Sometimes, he even makes music just so he has something to put his drawings to. It’s hard to put your art out there as a band, but it’s about four times harder to do so without the backing of a group. I respect the producer immensely not only because what he creates stumps my imagination to no end, but because he does it alone. Danny Brown recently told me that stand-up comedians are what he considers true entertainers because they have to get up in front of a room and just talk and create a rush in a mass of people. I have always thought this (love you, Bonnie McFarlane) but to me producers and rappers are the stand-up comedians of the music world: When they suck, it’s fucking tragic. When they are on, nobody comes close to their brilliance and impact.
“On Doing an Evil Deed Blues” is dark, twisted and low. It’s haunting. Though Lil Ugly Mane’s best work is the stuff where he plays producer and does not rap, his verses are straight and smart here. He’s creating a canvas to spit all over. Mane raps about how he doesn’t want to rap, spewing a line about how he used to like to rhyme when it was someone else’s verse. Like most rappers, he speaks in the immediate, talking about the labels that wanted to sign him. But, unlike most rappers and like a fucking punk, he also rhymes about how he rejected the offers and has yet to make any money off his rap career. “I’m still married to America,” he slurs, perhaps cursing capitalism, food stamps and taxes in one sentiment. The end of the seven-minute track is the best part. Snippets of twisted, broken country songs fade out and leaves you wanting more. Lil Ugly Mane produces soundtracks so overpowering that all the murmuring, mundane garbage mumbling in your brain just shuts down and bows into him. He’s as effective and pure as a 40 mg Dilaudid.
I don’t care if I was late on Ugly Mane. I’m glad I found him now and not never. Maybe I’ve only caught the end of his rap career, but there is no way he won’t continue to produce tracks (the thing he clearly excels at, just go back and listen to his Bandcamp page) and pretty soon, even rap-retarded punk nerds more dense than I will know exactly who this southerner is.