After flooding Bandcamp with almost two hours of “Instrumentals and Unreleased Shit” in the form of the sprawling THREE SIDED TAPE VOLUME ONE and TWO, Lil Ugly Mane’s trudge to the hip-hop finish line continues with the release of the first single from what he says will be his final full-length. The Richmond-based MC/producer’s 2012 epic MISTA THUG ISOLATION slides its grimy tentacles deeper into our consciousnesses with every spin, still eluding classification in basement discussions and iTunes libraries everywhere (“sludge-trap?” “noise-hop?” “really frightening”). Now he sits before his Tascam MF-P01 Portastudio with a mic in hand, tracking verses straight to the tape that will serve as his swan song, PRELUDE TO PANOPTICON/EXIT TO EUPHORIA(PATRIOTIC DRYHEAVE).
The eight-minute “On Doing an Evil Deed Blues” encapsulates the bittersweet vibes of this moment on the LUM timeline. The sweet: a knotty song structure, front-loaded with a collage of D.I.T.C. lines that blossoms into multiple hooks and lengthy verses; a beat that coasts along on a wispy vocal sample above bone-thick bass drums and unhinged hi-hats; the Codeine Demon in full-on Golden Age reminiscence mode, “spitting Raekwon bars to the mirror just to hear it.” The bitter: his taking-to-task of the rap game for trends of violence, hedonism, and greed; his deep Things Done Changed mentality RE: his current notoriety vs. his previous pressure-free obscurity; his declaration that “rapping ain’t my grind/ I just used to like to rhyme.” We can all share in the massive bummer that some of Lil Ugly Mane’s most honest, ferocious moments on the mic to date — stripped of fantasy and horror-core affectation, for better or for worse — reach us as part of his goodbye.
• Lil Ugly Mane: http://liluglymane.bandcamp.com