Words by Sizwe Ray Shabalala
In 2012, Priddy Ugly released his first debut solo project titled The Ugly Truth. However, I only caught wind of it at the end of 2013/early 2014 by chance. His single Hunnids spent a short time on my playlist back in 2015. It wasn’t until 2016 when he dropped You Don’t Know Me that I started paying more attention to what he was doing. With the release of this project came his verse on the iconic Now or Never Remix that featured an impressive ensemble of SA rappers. From there on out, I started hearing/seeing more of him and everything was starting to make sense.
Here we are in 2017 and he is an Ambitiouz Entertainment signee and has one of the most impressive albums of 2017. His sound has matured considerably since The Ugly Truth days. His raps are more polished and more deliberate and concise. He has a better understanding of how to use his unique tone and cadence and because of this, he is easily separated from the pack.
The first time I listened to this album I was disappointed. It was an underwhelming experience. I didn’t return to it for another 3 days. However, the more I listened to it afterwards, the more I grew to enjoy it.
Sonically, the album has elements of traditional hip-hop 808 type hitting sounds, melodic trap sounds and on songs like Look Alike, strong Caribbean influences are very evident. Born to an Angolan mother and a father from South Africa, one could say that the sonic elements of his music represent Priddy’s background and his influences. Look Alike is refreshing to listen to on this album.
Songs like Smogolo showcase his hood side as he explores elements of Kwaito in his production, content and even his delivery. The hook has less than 5 words and is delivered with a very catchy bounce to it – a page from the classic Kwaito sound. He opens up the song by singing a few bars from the legendary Sister Nacy’s “Bam Bam” a song that was later interpolated and made even more popular by Lauryn Hill on “Last Ones”. Priddy doesn’t just stop there, he also pays homage to the iconic music group Tkzee when he delivers the bridge of the song with the famous “…in the 18 area” references. Just when you think the song can’t get any better, he closes off with a nostalgic Craig David “Walking Away” interpolation. There is actually so much going on in this song once you dissect it and somehow it all just works.
Smogolo is followed by tracks such as Tshela and Bietjie which feature label mate Emtee. While he is very consistent lyrically for the most part, there were a couple of bars on the album that were, in my opinion, a bit of a reach. In one of the songs, I think II Wavey, he said something along the lines of, “…I got class like a new Cedes”. I get that there is a correlation between Class and Mercedes but I mean, come on bruh bruh! However, like I said, for the most part, lyrically he is brilliant throughout the album and so those one or two lines can get a pass.
02 Hero is one of my favourite cuts off the album. It features Shane Eagle who, in my opinion, bodies this joint. Don’t get me wrong, Priddy was super nice on here too, and you could be reading this and thinking Priddy had the better verse – my point is not about who had the better verse, it’s more about Shane being the perfect addition to an already good song. I always say that, too often rappers feature other artists just because of the name or because they’re friends instead of picking someone who will be able to bring a different dynamic to the song and be able to elevate the song further. This was one of those moments where the artist being featured was able to understand what the song needed and executed it to perfection.
Having lived with the album for some time now, there are a few things I thought the album could have benefited from – one of them being the sequencing for the last two tracks. The last two songs on the album are Lucky’s Interlude and the smash hit In The Mood which features another label mate, Saudi. Every time I listen to the album from start to finish, it becomes more apparent to me that the last two songs should have been switched, in terms of sequencing. I say this because, for one, while In The Mood is a great song, it does not serve as the ideal outro song to an album of this nature. If we look at the core message of this album, Priddy is conveying the importance of timing and the importance of faith. With this in mind, Lucky’s Interlude could have been the better closer as it sounds like a part 2 of In The Mood.
To take it a step further, Lucky’s Interlude starts off with what sounds like a voice note from a young kid singing lyrics to In The Mood. The song closes off with a poem/prose of some sort and this piece really ties everything together very well and the flow of the album is not disrupted. This would have been a better outro. Also, when you consider the intro track Egypt in relation to Lucky’s Interlude, one could say the two would have complimented each other very well as intros and outros. With that being said, I am sure that there is a reason why it is sequenced the way it is.
2017 was an eventful year when it comes to South African hip-hop with many artists putting out impressive projects while others making strides overseas. Priddy Ugly can be proud of his contribution to the culture with this body of work. There was high expectation for this album and I think many of his fans will feel that he delivered.
“In the bitterness of struggle you will savour the sweetness of your success but let God work. Let patience ripen your blessings. The succulent taste of the fruits of your labour you will reap. Although bittersweet, but let God work. Pray. Praise. Prepare for patience and wait. Wait. Wait. Let God work. Let Him work in His time. For Everything Godly Yearns Patience and Time.”
Score: 8/10 Plugs