The common thought around one-hit wonders is that they exist for a moment. It is much more fun to access their careers, hone in on the exact moment they popped and watch them repeat the process. In 2017, you can figure an audience out quite quickly. Street rappers find the people who have hard exteriors but ultimately feel like they're about to crumble internally. Club rappers find those who want to temporarily floss and live in a world of self-created happiness.
Ugly God is neither of these things. He’s a 20-year-old with a wisecracking, early-Ludacris style sense of humor. He raps about his dick, constantly. He, like many a rapper, is willing to discuss sleeping with your woman as a stroke of power. And he's converted “Water,” his 2016 surprise SoundCloud hit, into an enjoyable, don't-read-too-much-into it mixtape.
First off, no one could predict how ubiquitous “thanks Ugly God” or “Water” would be. Royce Davison probably couldn't, either. As a living concept on the Internet, adopting the moniker Ugly God allowed him to talk shit with abandon, about everyone and himself. And exist on a medium, SoundCloud, that, though unstable at the moment, allows the sort of freedom that being on a record label simply cannot offer. Being a self-deprecating rapper from the Northside of Houston allowed BeatKing to shine until he morphed into a full-blown club-music sage thanks to his adoration of everything Three 6 Mafia, particularly Lord Infamous.
“Water” is arguably the most-played Houston related song in SoundCloud history that doesn't belong to Travis Scott, and it's made by someone who used to freestyle in his dorm room for shits and giggles. It's full of the kind of comedic riffing that leads to your best jokes being pulled out. At its height, The Booty Tape finds a way to continue what made Ugly God popular in the first place — be funny, if not self-aware of everything.
“Water” should have come and gone, a self-produced mid-fi moment where Ugly God uses the word “dyke” to call himself gay if he’s intending on sleeping with a lesbian; to make a joke about a stereotypical look for lesbians; and to consider himself man-made. Yet it's fun, and its ubiquity has made it Ugly God’s signature song, one that exists within a catalog of songs about masturbating and throwing a middle finger at himself.
The Booty Tape also arrived after what seemed like peak Ugly God promotion. He earned a spot on XXL’s Freshman list despite having only a handful of songs — similar to Playboi Carti, who dropped his debut mixtape with a massive summer single to boot. How Carti came to be and how Ugly God arrived at this point are two totally dissimilar things. Both maximize on doing very little, one via raps that sound like tacked-on ad-libs and the other stringing together sentences that rise up through the flotsam and stick. “Magnolia,” Carti’s magnum opus after “Broke Boi,” is scratchy with a thumping Pierre Bourne production and a signature dance to go with it. The next big thing from UG may be “Stop Smoking Black & Milds,” which is an extended rank session.
Having a giant personality is the way to go when your rapping does not necessarily work lyrical miracles. Some are witty with theirs; see Le$, who preaches an ethos of living your life right and staying far away from anybody who could jeopardize that. On The Booty Tape, only Ugly God would dare write a “ballad” about eating ass and emote over a piano/drum melody that he hasn’t eaten pussy in months. He even attempts to sing and proudly admits that he’s part of the “LDC,” the 'little dick clique,' yet still gets girls.
Yes, Ugly God is about as immature as a fun rapper can be: “Eat this meat, you ain’t no vegan.” It’s juvenile humor, but it also speaks to what he’s attempting to accomplish here. He floats in space for about a minute, max, before giving way to a chorus and the rest of his mid-fi, drum-heavy production. He doesn’t state that he’s a rapper, nor that this is a mixtape, rather a collection of songs. He’s balling on student loans. He proclaims to be neutered even though he still wants sex, with anybody. On paper, the biggest song from The Booty Tape features Wiz Khalifa, who gets sucked into Ugly God’s world rather than UG get sucked into Khalifa’s laid-back cloud of weed smoke.
The only moment in UG’s world that allows him to pause and realize everything that’s happened in the past 15 months? “Like a Maverick,” the penultimate track where, for once, rap persona and juvenile prankster meet in the middle. “I made music from my basement, I done came up and got famous,” he raps and moments later shushes any idea of a relationship because of his lifestyle as a traveling performer. That’s the clear basis of being Ugly God in 2017 or, really, a “SoundCloud rapper” in this day and age.
Making songs to make your friends laugh still has the same gravity as making songs for people who have accomplished very little in life beyond wanting to have sex and brag their asses off about it. Eddie Murphy once said in his 1987 stand-up special Raw, “My whole act back then was about taking a shit cause that’s all I had did at 15...that was my life experience then.” The same could be said for Ugly God. Adjustments to fame, long moments of thoughts and brevity? That’s not what got him here. Being funny and ridiculous about it is what sold the world on him. The Booty Tape may not be his version of Raw, but it’s an album to be entertained in a brief dose, a 22-minute comedy special to catch nothing but dollars.
SONGS OF THE WEEK
DELOREAN FEAT. LUKE WHITNEY, “Apollo Creed”
During the #HTownRapBattle viral madness that soon will land a segment on RevoltTV, DeLorean promised that a new album was on the way. “Apollo Creed” is the lead single from said album, the kind of bluesy, we’re gonna make it type anthems that make DeLorean special. Until he’s completely comfortable (which is probably never) he’s going to continue to rap his ass off. Now as far as what may be included on Small Goals? All depends on what was left on the plate Delo didn't take on Take Me Back.
There are three levels of Dodi. The first is when he raps in context of greats, his idols both past and present. There's also his rapping from that lair of pent-up aggression both from a misunderstood-Mexican-rapper perspective, and finally just as a human being, period. The third level, which is peak Dodi, is when he invokes his father and mother's strugges, as well as his own struggles to hold it all in, and channels it all into a giant piece of fury. “Gemini” is level three Dodi.
FAT TONY, "Waterfalls"
Count on Fat Tony to keep having fun being a slick-talking Third Ward representer. "Waterfalls" finds a way to interpolate the Beastie Boys' "Paul Revere" with TLC's ultimate hit and Tony's motor-mouth rap style. The video itself? A play on every piece of pop culture that creeps into Tony's mind, from superheroes to Beavis And Butthead. Remember kids, always stick to the rivers and the lakes that you're used to.
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KIRKO BANGZ, “Takin Pictures”
Before we get into Progression 17, Kirko’s strong intermission rap tapes where the only honor he holds is to himself, “Takin Pictures” applies the loverman thought process that will keep him paid forever and stretches it a bit. “Girls Girls Girls,” this is. “4:44,” this is not. Trakksounds supplies the palate for Kirko to love women who leave red bottoms on the floor. Here’s the thing: Kirko loves bloody shoes, but they can expire at any moment.
TONY DARK FEAT. BRICE BLANCO, “Revelations”
One person who enjoyed their summer? Tony Dark. The Houston producer amassed a slew of friends in May to create The Tony Dark Experience, a collection that plays straight-up to Dark’s strengths. In the video for a highlight, “Revelations," Tony and Brice Blanco cut up on a golf course and push it to a point of opulent joy. Well, as much opulence as a backyard BBQ with a golf cart can offer.