Stream Lil Ugly Mane’s Strange New Surprise Album Volcanic Bird Enemy And The Voiced Concern
In recent years, there’s been a whole wave of hugely popular white underground rappers who talk about depression and self-harm and substance abuse over flickery, lo-fi beats that recall ’90s-era Three 6 Mafia. You could argue that the Richmond, Virginia rapper and producer Lil Ugly Mane pioneered that whole wave on his 2012 album Mista Thug Isolation. If he wanted, Lil Ugly Mane could seriously capitalize on that whole thing right now. But that doesn’t seem to be what Lil Ugly Mane wants. He’s on some other shit right now.
In the past decade-plus, Lil Ugly Mane has released a whole lot of music under a whole lot of different names, but he’s also a mercurial figure who goes quiet for long stretches of time. A few months ago, Lil Ugly Mane started releasing new tracks, two at a time, on Bandcamp. First came “Headboard” and “Here I Am,” and then came “Porcelain Slightly” and “Into A Life.” Those songs only qualify as rap music in the loosest possible definition. Instead, these new tracks are more like depressive lo-fi indie rock with synths and guitars and breakbeat skitters. They sound more like Folk Implosion than Three 6 Mafia, and they’re pretty great.
Today, without prior warning, Lil Ugly Mane has released a whole album in that style. The sprawling 19-track Volcanic Bird Enemy And The Voiced Concern features all four of those previously released songs, and it’s the first full-length album released under the Lil Ugly Mane name since 2015’s Oblivion Access. The text on the Volcanic Bird Enemy description makes it sound like Lil Ugly Mane just decided to release the new LP on the spur of the moment, possibly as a way to stop himself from obsessing over it too much.
I’m on my first listen right now, but the new album definitely works in a fuzzed-out ramble-groove, recalling the mid-’90s moment when a whole lot of people were trying their best to sound like Mellow Gold-era Beck. Maybe Lil Ugly Mane is way ahead of everybody. Maybe there will be a million groups trying to do this sound in a decade. Right now, though, Lil Ugly Mane is very much on his own trip, and it’s fascinating to behold. Stream the album below.
In other Lil Ugly Mane news, the guy also has an intermittently active one-man black metal side project called Vudmurk. A week and a half ago, he released a six-song demo called Obedient Form, putting the whole thing together as one long track. It’s full-on no-joke black metal, and it does not sound like a rapper’s side project. You can hear that demo below.
Volcanic Bird Enemy And The Voiced Concern and Obedient Form are both out now, and you can get them at Lil Ugly Mane’s Bandcamp.