[Self-Released; 2015]

Styles: hip-hop
Others: Shawn Kemp, Travis Miller, Lyle Ugleman

While I’ve never been extremely engaged in hip-hop, other than various fleeting obsessions with select protrusions, there’s something about Lil Ugly Mane that never fails to grip me, something that’s rubbing against the genre’s core but relatively AWOL outside of Ugly Mane’s awry insanity. For the most part, Ugly Mane deals in primordial forms. This was explicit on 2012’s two-volume STUDY OF THE HYPOTHESIZED REMOVABLE AND / OR EXPANDABLE NATURE OF HUMAN CAPABILITY AND LIMITATIONS PRIMARILY REGARDING INTRODUCTORY EXPERIENCES WITH NEW AND EXCITING TECHNOLOGIES BY WAY OF MOTIVATIONAL INCENTIVE, a compilation of first attempts at making music by entrusted neophytes and fans.

The principle of the concept calls to mind a suggestion by free-jazzer Fred Frith, namely that “kids learn that they are musical by the fact of being able to make stuff up,” and that “when their talent is recognized, they are taught to do what they’re told and follow a rather specific set of rules.” Ideologically, it purports a premise of artistic integrity that contradicts the bureaucratic conception of artistry as something rational. The sociologist Max Weber wrote extensively about the issue, proposing that music itself is a result of rationalization, specifically when constituting one side of a dichotomy of music and noise. Paul Hegarty (2001) also notes that the contrary is perceived as “something more natural,” but unfortunately this has “meant its exclusion as humanity defines itself as apart from nature.” Although the agenda of THIRD SIDE OF TAPE is somewhat different, there’s a similar primal quality or irrationality at stake.

Importantly, this isn’t new music, but rather a collection of ideas that were previously shelved or simply disliked; even more important is the fact that they speak nonetheless. Profitable ground for appreciation lies in an analogy with graffiti. Despite his ordinarily aloof online presence, Ugly Mane once alluded to this in a rare but insightful prose on Facebook:

how did yall forget about graffiti? we were born out of eachother. two elements that are so deeply intertwined historically that the detatchment these days seems to be proof of a general lapse of memory. and the detatchment has nothing to do with whether or not people or even you are still gettin up. they are. you are maybe.
the detatchment has to do with the fact that people have considered me or other rappers like me to be “mysterious” or “weird” because of the fact that we dont have press shots, videos, indepth personal biographies, national tours, desire to be personally famous, managers, promoters, teams, ect.
you forgot about the concept of taking a name, throwing it on a wall and walking away and letting that piece speak entirely for itself. this tigerbeat “blah blah is my favorite color and my favorite dinner to eat on a date is blah blah” out in broad daylight, snitch tabloid, sunshining tropical island of culture that we’ve degraded into is the evidence of it.
its so farfetched, so insane these days that a rapper wouldnt want to completely step out centerstage under bright sweaty lights and beg for the full credit of a creation with a government name scrawled on a dotted line, while at the same time ironically meanmug posing for a paid photographer in front of a brick wall covered with the faded aliases of anonymous individuals that still actually represent what this is actually all about.
make your money. do what you do. dont be confused when other rappers are just satisfied getting their name up tho.

There are hints in the liner notes that THIRD SIDE OF TAPE could be the penultimate installment in the Ugly Mane legacy. If so, it’s fitting that it represents a discharge of those unspoken testimonies, as if it’s a necessity that they’re out in the open. Personal favorites include the industrial-like synth beat occurring at 6:35 through “SIDE ONE-A,” with its heavy, distorted bass; the looped dub and melodic flute at 4:40 on “SIDE ONE-B;” and the subsequent atmospheric pads, which are complemented by arpeggiated leads and juke-like vocal chops. There is profuse creativity in abundance, however, and while the joints are always haphazard, this just adds to the nature.

Notably, this is the third installment of a series of three-sided tape releases, which were left hanging in 2013. For that reason, when Mr P pointed to the release of Ugly Mane’s new “crazy tape,” I jumped. Like the two volumes before it, it’s embroiled in absurdities. The tape’s immediate craziness, however, can actually be ascribed to a sober morality, whereby coming up with a genuine critique would be beside the point. THIRD SIDE OF TAPE is not preoccupied with an attempt at being something specific; it is what it is: a collection of raw statements that aren’t perturbed by what they are saying, but simply that they are saying.

Links: Lil Ugly Mane


Some releases are so incredible we just can’t help but exclaim EUREKA! While many of our picks here defy categorization and explore the constructed boundaries between ‘music’ and ‘noise,’ others complement, continue, or rupture traditions that provide new forms and ways of listening. Not all of our favorites will be listed here, but we think each EUREKA! album is worthy of careful consideration. This section is a work-in-progress, so expect its definition to be in perpetual flux.

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