Priddy Ugly drops a bar album, SOIL
“Yo. A re repeng bafwethu,”
SA rapper and lyricist, Priddy Ugly released his second album, SOIL, on Wednesday the 28th of July 2021. Priddy Ugly is argued to be one of the most talented, intelligent and underrated rappers and lyricists in SA. However opposing views and sentiments suggest that Priddy Ugly is in fact not that great with his pen game nor his rap skills suggesting he cannot rap, period.
Those who have heard Priddy Ugly rap, have likened him to Kendrick Lamar during his Section 80 days and Jay-Z, to his Reasonable Doubt days. Many would take this as a compliment but Priddy Ugly is adamant about sounding like himself, a talented African rapper, but says this feedback has made him understand what people hear when they listen to his music.
“It wasn’t intentional to dive down and rap. I was just already in a space where I felt like I needed to rap especially because I’ve been undermined as a lyricist and I know it. It’s been out there. It’s been on social media and I understand it because a lot of focus in the songs that we were doing, wasn’t on lyricism as much.”
Speaking to Siya Metane, Priddy Ugly said that he was aware of the overall sentiment around his pen skills and music, and has since undertaken to the task of proving himself with his album, 'SOIL'. With this album, Priddy Ugly address social issues in Africa and also appears to be challenging rappers to work on their own pen game. “Yo, a re repeng bafwethu” is a phrase he has been chanting.
“Even in the commercial songs you can hear that this guy is lyrical - I pay attention to how I write and construct the music but it’s not like I was trying to prove to people that I can rap. I’m actually trying to break out of that box. I want to become more of a household name and for the brand to grow.”
Radio airplay has proven to be play a huge role in amplifying a song. The more people hear a song on radio airwaves, the more they see the music video on popular music channels, the more the likelihood of the song getting traction, streams and downloads. The truth can be said about the opposite – the less a song is heard or seen anywhere, the less likely it is for the song to gain public interest, traction and streams. The story of airplay politics is not unheard of where some artist’s music gets played more than others for various “political” reasons such as personal interest. If a radio producer has interest in an artist’s career, the more likelihood of that artist getting airplay. Conversations of Payola have made their rounds in the SA industry where radio producers and DJs have taken bribes to play certain artist’s songs and the list is endless.
Priddy Ugly alluded to some of his experiences with airplay politics which may have had an impact on the public interest and traction around his music.
“I’ve got my grandmother calling me telling me we don’t hear you on radio, we don’t see you on TV and I’ve always had to explain that that’s not really where I’ve been targeting my stuff. That’s not to say we don’t submit, we still submit and there’s politics and people don’t play the stuff. When they do play it, they play it at midnight or at 2am. So I kinda stopped focusing on trying to get radio play.”
Various artists have said that making music is a spiritual task for them, making the SOIL was no different for Priddy Ugly. While in Cape Town and shortly after the birth of his daughter, his wife, Bontle Modiselle was shooting a Netflix docu-series, Jiva, Priddy Ugly had an opportunity to write music and to listen to music by his peers. Unimpressed with where rap is in South Africa, Priddy Ugly was inspired to get into his own flow of lyricism which gave birth to SOIL.
“When I was listening to the stuff that was being dropped by a lot of the artists in the hip hop fraternity, it wasn’t a thing to rap. Not to say that dudes aren’t rapping- I’m sure there’s an underground scene where people are rapping and you get the people who are doing it at their level, the Nasty Cs, AReece’s- not to say that nobody is rapping.
It’s just to say that we need more people to be rapping. I’d like to hear substance in your music. I’m listening to people’s albums locally, and I listen to an album that’s 14 tracks and I don’t know anything about you still. I don’t know what you’re about. What’s your story? What do you want people to take away from your music? I feel like that’s what’s missing in hip hop in the South African fraternity. Yo. A re repeng bafwethu.”
Who are you making music for?
To follow Priddy Ugly’s point, perhaps one of the reasons there isn’t a lot of mainstream hardcore rap is because it is said to be “not commercially viable” by stakeholders who invest in artist’s careers for money. Another sentiment is that South African’s want to groove and not spend time studying music in order to enjoy it. For example, following a storyline of a commercial song may be easier than following a storyline that has metaphors, oxymorons and puns, as with Priddy Ugly’s music.
“That’s how I feel about my first album Egypt. Not very cohesive. There’s a lot of songs I would have removed from there. Hence why I dropped the deluxe which started off completely different, the sequencing of the song was completely different from how the original one sounded. The original one was.. at the time I was at Ambitious Entertainment wanted hits.”
This begs the question, who are artists making music for and what is the drive for the pursuit of music as a career. Balancing what record labels feels is viable for their interests, what audiences want and enjoy, and what the artist wants to do can be challenging for an artist. It remains crucially important for artists to know why they are making certain decisions, getting into certain deals and what they want to get out of the entire holistic experience.
“They were offering me things that I felt like I lacked and I knew where I could still improve as a an artist, as a brand and as a businessman which is what my focus was going into that type of a situation. They wanted a successful commercial album from me, I also wanted to prove that I could put out a successful commercial album. Their mandate was that we needed to make this thing appeal to the 3 year old and to the 60 year old, and that’s a wide spectrum. They said if we can have a wide spectrum of people we can appeal to, the more likely we are to gain the audience that we’re looking for. I realized whilst in the process that I’m not that type of artist. This is not how I want to present myself on my first album specifically. rap album I could possibly put out."
Since leaving Ambitious Entertainment, Priddy Ugly seems to have a clearer vision and understanding of his next trajectory in the hip hop space. Ours is to listen and listen carefully as he breaks it down with every song on the album.
“I think coming into my second album, that’s why I really wanted to rap. I really wanted to put together a cohesive rap album that transcended from starting smoothly to ending hard and vice versa. Shout out to Shooter Khumz, Wichi 1080, Herc Cut The Lightd. It’s a serious rap album. That’s what I’ve been pushing. I’m not pushing to have the album of the year.. I’m trying to put out the best.”
5 key versus from the album
“I know some Cali dudes that want to move to Cape Town. Their ancestors are the Africans that they clown. But stay proud cause in the States is where the slaves are found. It’s the same crown if you’re blank or a shade brown. The motherland is the colonizer’s playground.
It is rare to hear young rap artists speak about Africa in their bars. They often toy around with aspiration- rapping about moving to the States, luxury cars, women and money they aspire to have. Priddy Ugly warns artists to be careful of what they wish for and to start embracing their inborn talent without validation from the States.
“When you think about where we are as South Africans, we always aspire to be international and that’s great. I feel like we have African global excellence within South Africa and within Africa. We have the quality of talent that can compete with international talent. The international audience just has a better market than us or bigger markets or bigger marketing. It doesn’t mean that they are better sonically or talent or content or context wise.
That was just me saying that a lot of you guys want to move from Jozi to California but I know some dudes in California who want to move to South Africa because they want to be closer to the motherland, closer to their ancestors and where they come from.. because dudes that side are oppressed, facing policing systems where you can bribe out here.”
2. Addressing social and political issues
“You lose your life for uCotley, Oppikkoppi, the other side of the story. Befriend a Tsotsi, that’s the advice from my Topi.”
South Africa is filled with social inequalities that affect how people’s lives turn out. With this verse, Priddy Ugly calls for people to be more empathetic and open minded because there are various reasons people make the decisions they do- be hasty with the judgement and see what you can learn, advise Priddy Ugly received from his dad.
‘That’s just to say don’t be so closed minded that you’re so gullible that you can’t see a tsotsi. Be so streetwise that you know tsotsis and how they manoeuvre and what chain of thinking they come from because not all tsotsis have criminal intent. Some people are doing that because they come from nothing. They need to put bread on the table. They have no choice. So sometimes if I need to take something, I’m going to take from you. I’m not condoning it and I’m not saying that’s right.
That line is just to say there’s things you can learn from everybody. You can learn from the street person, the same way you can learn from the businessman. You can learn from a taxi driver the same way you can learn from the school principal. So just be open minded when engaging with certain people. Maybe there’s something that a tsotsi could teach you, not in criminality but just in life. Something that will help you better in your business and hustle. Because those are hustlers at the end of the day.”
The only love song on the album produced by Zoocci and Shooter Khumz. The chorus plays on the word Bitch.
“Man, my bitch love Coco- Chanel like Coco she smell, she dropped lo co as well. Photos so well. She’s hot but she’s stone cold as hell. She a W, she won’t hold an L. She respects the Bo-code as well. me and her like Hobes and Michelle.”
Contrary to what people may think of the song, Priddy Ugly in fact salutes women for the power they possess. In the song, he brings it close to home and pays homage to his wife and sisters in law, and embraces women for their strength and tender selves. He calls for women to start creating their own narrative for the word “bitch” and not to let it oppress women.
“The same way we use the word Nigga, to us it doesn’t mean as much but in the States it means something different. That was the derogatory word they used to oppress them and now it’s like you’re my nigga. Black people owned the word.
4. “Dead Jungle” features Blxckie and HD from New York produced by Shooter Khumz and Witchie Hirk.
“Cocky niggaz get humbled. Gorillas defy bare knuckle.
The real is there by bare knuckle. Killers don’t scare my uncles. Tear muscle get your head crumbled. If you’re black then we all share a struggle. Blood diamond. The hoods teach you to love violence. A lot of hood niggaz love dying…”
“The name of the beat was dead jungle and I figured that could be the name of the song. There’s just something that spoke to me about that title.
This song compares the streets or the hood to the jungle.
When you think about Africa, a jungle that’s very much alive, there’s a lot of life spewing through it, there’s vegetation and animals but we call it dead jungle because the mentality of the people who live in the jungle have a fucked up mentality and makes it seem as though it’s a dead jungle.
In Africa, we have mining plantations where people are digging for diamonds and killing each other for the diamonds that they find and undersell. It’s just saying people don’t mind losing their lives for a Cotley.’
5. A final jab at the rappers- “A re rapeng bafwethu”
“Rather be overrated than over priced, the focused type, recorded these vocals off a focus rhyme. If these flows don’t kill you, then Covid might.”
Priddy Ugly said that “if these sick bars don’t kill you, Covid just might. You’re going to die one way or another” – a challenge to local rappers to up their game, speak their truth and rap.
Watch the full one hour interview below;