Lil Ugly Mane AKA Lyle Ugleman AKA Shawn Kemp surprised fans with a new release yesterday entitled Third Side of Tape. Fans of the eclectic and mysterious rapper will not be disappointed, as the bundle of six tracks is weird, dark, sinister, and full of the musical menace we have to come expect from the underground hero. This is another unexpected release, as Ugly Mane’s Soundcloud page still sneers that, “LIL UGLY MANE IS A DEFUNCT PROJECT” and promises an upcoming boxed set I am convinced will never ever exist. Ugleman continues to evolve, and is barely recognizable as the artist who put out Mista Thug Isolation. Third Side of Tape will remind fans more of External Files than earlier releases like Playaz Circle and, of course, fits in snugly with it’s predecessors, Three Side Tape Volume I & II.
For those of you that haven’t heard of Lil Ugly Mane, which is probably most of you, you are massively missing out. If you like strange, go listen to every tape I just mentioned, every single one, don’t skip a track. He has purposefully hidden himself, there are very few pictures of him online, he rarely does interviews, and you’ll have a hell of a time trying to find out his real name. He displays a vitriolic disdain for social media reserved usually only for those born pre-1940, which only adds to this mystique and phantasmagorical nature. He is Richmond’s answer to Gesualdo, rap’s Edgar Allan Poe, Aleister Crowley with a blunt and a styrofoam cup. His sound music will give you nightmares and you will wake up the next morning and want more. A darkly comic and brilliant lyricist, and an oddball producer, Ugly Mane aesthetic is utterly unique in an industry that is cluttered with imitations and knock-offs.
While his subject matter is perhaps typical, if much darker, than many rappers, it’s clear he is doing something greater than simple braggadocio. MISHKA hit the nail on the head when they wrote, “He embodies the myth that he feels best describes our current era. And he’s really, really, good at it.” There is a weird intellectualism to him, he can easily lay claim to having the most difficult and obtuse album title in the history of album titles with his, 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 VOLUME ONE. Fucking weird. Despite all the smoke and mirrors and hiding behind the internet, Uglyman has developed a cult following, summed up perfectly by a comment on his Bandcamp page, “I haven’t had any money for about a month and 30 mins before this came out someone gave me $5 out of nowhere it was meant to be.” Here’s to living for a month without money, and then spending everything fall into on Lil Ugly Mane. Support authenticity and listen to something new you will love, Third Side of Tape is available for $3, which is a steal if I’ve ever seen one. — COLE NOWLIN