(Today's Reader Review is for something I'm pretty sure most of you two aren't familiar with. Andrew, who last treated us to a Lil Boosie review, is back with the next chapter in his “rappers with the word 'lil' in their names” series, as he gives his thoughts on Lil Ugly Mane's Mista Thug Isolation. Leave your thoughts for Andrew below.)
Lil Ugly Mane (yes, I'm writing about an artist named Lil Ugly Mane) is a rapper/producer that hails from Richmond, Virginia. You would think a man who chose the rap moniker Lil Ugly Mane would be over-the-top and ridiculous, but he is actually quite the opposite: as a matter of fact, the man is an enigma. Google 'Lil Ugly Mane' right now and you’ll find his Bandcamp page, and that’s about it, unless you are one of those fuckers who enjoys surfing Internet forums until he/she knows everything there is to know about everything, in which case you already know more about Lil Ugly Mane than I do. Too bad I’m the guy writing the review.
Anyways, Lil Ugly Mane is a special hip hop artist in my eyes because he is talented as both a rapper and producer (maybe more so as a producer, but I’ll leave that up for debate). He produces under the alias Shawn Kemp, taking the name of a former NBA great perhaps to confuse, or maybe he just appreciates the greatness and pot-smoking ways of Shawn Kemp. His production style could certainly be compared to the now-defunct Three 6 Mafia and currently somewhat-trending SpaceGhostPurrp, but Lil Ugly Mane puts his own spin on the style, and I personally find some of his beats to rival both of the aforementioned artists’ greatest works behind the boards.
Looking at his Bandcamp page again, it appears that Mista Thug Isolation is the only official LP he has ever released, and, bias be damned, he seems to value quality over quantity. Along with Mista Thug Isolation, he has dropped two epic singles (“Uneven Compromise” and “On Doing An Evil Deed Blues”) and a few beat tapes that are also pretty dope. He's even uploaded the majority of his demo tapes for people who want to track the rapid ascension of Lil Ugly Mane in the booth and behind the boards.
Now onto the album...
1. MISTA THUG ISOLATION (12TH MOVEMENT)
If you’ve made it this far into my review and pressed play on the first track, you will be sharply awoken by a sound that resembles an alarm clock, along with some fuzzy sounds that sound like aliens communicating through radio frequencies. After about a minute, a super eerie beat drops on top of all the background alien noises, which then lasts for about another minute and a half. I wouldn't keep it on my iTunes playlist, but I admit the beat accompanying the teeth-gritting sounds was really dope.
2. SERIOUS SHIT
Starts off with something you’d expect to hear in a New Orleans jazz hall, and then the full instrumental kicks in alongside the chorus, which is composed of two dope vocal samples. The beat is quite chill, and Lil Ugly Mane quickly establishes the fact that he can rap. He spits two verses and ad-libs some shit talking toward the end. I like the fact that he doesn’t really sound like a white rapper, because white rappers usually sound like pussies. I think the song title refers to the beat, because it is some seriously dope shit. At this point you should have bong in hand, ready to rip.
3. MANIAC DRUG DEALER III
This song is really noisy, and I don’t like it. Lil Ugly Mane raps pretty well, as he tends to, but the bars aren’t special or funny, so you could skip this track and maybe put out your joint and save it for the next track.
4. RADIATION (LUNG POLLUTION) (FEAT. SUPA SORTAHUMAN)
This beat is so fucking pure. If you don’t like this song, then you don’t like hip hop. The vocal sample that serves as the hook urges you to get high and smoke blunts, and I agree with that sentiment. Supa Sortahuman, a dude who mooches off Lil Ugly Mane’s greatness, spits a verse about reefer, and does a good job, but the production is essential. Lil Ugly Mane spits the first verse, and it isn’t a lyrical masterpiece or anything, but still sounds great with the beat.
5. SLICK RICK
This beat was definitely made in a garage. The chorus goes “Duck down when you see me in that monster coupe / Slick Rick said 'Treat ‘Em Like A Prostitute'.” Wise words, because girls are sometimes mean, so if you treat them all like prostitutes, then your heart will remain intact, but you’ll never find love. Sounds like a win-win to me. The beat is kind of funky and sounds nothing like the last, but is still undoubtedly dope. This song has the best bars from Lil Ugly Mane so far, because he is clearly having fun with the subject matter. His line, “Listen up gangsta cause the moral is this / Never fall in love 'cause a bitch is a bitch / If she gettin’ wet let her suck on yo dick / But never fall in love 'cause a bitch is a bitch,” pretty much summarizes the song and its beauty.
Another banger from Lil Ugly Mane. If you don’t believe he is a beast behind the boards at this point, check out some of his guest production and you’ll know what’s up. During the chorus he repeats: “Don’t you wish you could be me,” and I don’t know if I do, but it would probably be cool to be a white man with the inner soul of a black man. Lots of shit-talking from Lil Ugly Mane here, as he tends to do on this album, but he flows well and clearly understands how to ride his beats.
7. ALONE AND SUFFERING (INTERLUDE)
Oh yeah. This instrumental is my shit. Super creepy background music, along with a voice that moans, “Now you’re alone and suffering.” If you’re severely emo, don’t listen to this track because it could push you to put the razor to your wrist and man the fuck up, but I’m still alive, so just enjoy the song. I consider this instrumental a classic, as it is extremely moody and truthful. Buddha always said that life comes with suffering, so smoke some buddha and chill.
8. BITCH I’M LUGUBRIOUS
What in the hell? Another great instrumental? What’s going on here? I wish I knew more musical terms, or just words in general, to describe the beauty of this track, but perhaps words couldn't do it justice. The track starts with the chorus, which is entertaining, then segues into his first verse. Lil Ugly Mane knows how to talk shit, and he even employs a little double-time flow here. My favorite line goes, “I ain’t really nothing like a hero / I just wanna get my dick sucked and multiply them zeroes”. If you claim to like hip hop and don’t like this album so far, then I don’t like you, plain and simple.
9. CUP FULLA BEETLEJUICE
This beat is so fucking hard. The song doesn’t have the instant appeal of some of the other tracks on here, but if you want to bump some grimy shit that will creep out anyone within hearing distance, then this is your track. It sort of makes me want to worship Satan. Maybe I will. Beetlejuice himself would be proud of this track, and Beetlejuice knows his stuff.
10. BREEZEM OUT
Wait, how did Lil Ugly Mane go from “Cup Fulla Beetlejuice” to this song? How did the same producer make this beat? I don’t even know, but this song is so relaxing. The chorus is truly profound: you should hear it for yourself. The verses aren’t as in-your-face as the previous tracks, as this is more of a celebratory track, which adds to the diversity of the album and blah blah blah just enjoy the track.
11. HOEISH ASS BITCH
I’d be lying if I said I’ve hooked up with a hoeish ass bitch, because even hos don’t give me play, but I can certainly that they are around. Lil Ugly Mane must have had his heart crushed, because he clearly has a vendetta against the hos. The beat is nice, as per usual, and the chorus reaffirms that men are the better sex, at least in the rap game (sorry MC Lyte!). Lil Ugly Mane sticks to the subject matter of the title track, talkin’ shit about bitches and hos like a true pimp. Me likey this track.
12. MONA LISA OVERDRIVE
Dope beat. One of my least favorite tracks on here, but still a solid song. That’s all I’m going to write, because I’m lazy. I have no idea how Max wrote so many of these reviews, he is a god with a capital G.
13. TWISTIN (FEAT. DENZEL CURRY)
OH MY GOD. Seriously, if you haven’t started blazin’ a doobie, then get high on life, because this track is fucking amazing. Easily my favorite cut on the album, and Denzel Curry leads off the track and spits a Lord Infamous-esque verse that fits the beat perfectly. This instrumental is perfect to me, and I’ve sadly overplayed this song for myself, but you might still have the chance to hear it for this first time. Lil Ugly Mane shouts out Curry’s crew, Raider Klan, which he appears to have derived some of his style from. This track is the reason that underground hip hop is still worth seeking out.
14. NO SLACK IN MY MACK
If I ever meet Lil Ugly Mane, I pray that I am not with a girl, because he will either take her or I will give her to him after warming her up a little bit for him. The beat is unsurprisingly dark, and Lil Ugly Mane sticks to the formula, spitting entertaining braggadocios verses while flowing quite nicely. If DJ Paul and Juicy J heard this, they would be proud. He manages to slip in a sneak diss to Lil Wayne and the mainstream, saying he will “gobble up these goons and goblins.” Hopefully you two get the reference.
15. LOOKIN 4 THA SUCKIN
The easiest song to relate to on the album, “Lookin 4 Tha Suckin” talks about dreams, life and death, and the big bang theory. Actually, it talks about trying to get your dick sucked, but it is still the most relatable track on here. Who doesn’t like getting their dick sucked? Only serious perverts. The beat has some nice bed string squeaks in the background and is, overall, a good beat to flow on, and once again the rapper/producer adds another good track to what is appearing to be a damn good, if not great, album.
16. LEAN GOT ME FUCKED UP
The production on this track is some grimy horrorcore. It sounds like a demonic baby is singing “la la la la” in the background, and I think I’m right. If I was on lean right now, I’d probably be enjoying myself, because lean is awesome, but so is this track. Hopefully you have some form of bass in your speakers and/or headphones, cause this beat hits really hard. The chorus adds to the atmosphere of the track, and continues the trend of quality songs.
17. THROW DEM GUNZ
I would describe Lil Ugly Mane’s beats as hybrids, because they are simultaneously grimy and clean. He uses such beautiful samples, layers them with dusty basement sounds, and it somehow works. This album could probably work as an instrumental album, but I don’t have the patience for that stuff sometimes, so I appreciate the fact that Lil Ugly Mane chose to entertain us with some nice work on the mic.
18. LAST BREATH (OUTRODUCTION)
He lets the album ride out to an excellent instrumental, and it gives you temporary relief from the intensity that Lil Ugly Mane brings to the mic. If you don’t enjoy Lil Ugly Mane as a rapper, then you have to at least appreciate his work behind the boards.
FINAL THOUGHTS: If you’re a bitch you won’t like this album, but Lil Ugly Mane's Mista Thug Isolation is a modern day classic in my opinion. I say this because it could have been released in the late 1990’s after Three 6 Mafia pioneered this sound, and it would surprise no one. The album is an example of consistency, something that a lot of rappers need to practice on their own projects. While the subject matter here is quite limited, it still feels right. If you want to hear Lil Ugly Mane spit more introspective lines, check out the two singles I mentioned in the opening paragraphs.
BUY OR BURN? Buy this shit, since it is only five dollars on his Bandcamp page, or just download it online for all I care. Lil Ugly Mane deserves your money, though, because he put his all into this album, as he is now contemplating retirement according to the blogosphere.
BEST TRACKS: “Twistin”; “Radiation (Lung Pollution)”; “Breezem Out”; “Bitch I’m Lugubrious”; “Serious Shit”; “Alone and Suffering (Interlude)”; “Throw Dem Gunz”
(Questions? Comments? Scratching your head? Leave your thoughts below.)