It's clear from the pen-and-pixel cover that Mista Thug Isolation, the full-length debut of Virginia rapper and producer Shawn Kemp (under the guise Lil Ugly Mane), is so admirably self-conscious that it excels in all that it presents. Each succeeding verse embellishes his ethos as a weed-smoking, trigger-happy sex fiend. Lil Ugly Mane's an exaggerated personality, but he delivers it in an accustomed manner, as if we're peering into his quotidian outings. Like fellow double-threat MF DOOM, his character and music are inseparable.
Hearing the eerie, beatless induction, we begin our descent into Lil Ugly Mane's smoky milieu. Lost in the mist of "Serious Shit"'s serene sax echoes, he traces his adamantly pimp genius with references to the goofy (Ernest Scared Stupid) and the gruesome (Dexter). His aggressive sexual ventures are spotlighted on "Slick Rick", with earshots like "I don't give a fuck about impressin' these broads / leave 'em lookin' messy in the presence of God," while Mista Thug Isolation's most resounding mantra is "Bitch I'm morose and lugubrious, I'ma let the uzi spit, turn his face into gooey shit." Lil Ugly Mane boasts "Don't you wish you could be me?" and his farcical excesses sound fun enough to rouse a "yes" in response.
Though his lyrical jabs can prick ears at any given moment on Mista Thug Isolation, his instrumentals are just as potent. "Radiation (Lung Pollution)" is your typical weed rap, but its chorus of "Get high, smoke yo blunt" over sultry saxophone samples and utopian synths is worth immersing yourself in the narrative to. Shoutouts to the Raider Klan on "Twistin" seem all the more fitting, for selections from SpaceGhostPurrp's recent Mysterious Phonk album recall the beat's sharp percussion and sauntering refrain. The raunchy "Lookin For Tha Suckin" features a suggestively creaky chair over its hook, while "Throw Dem Gunz" lets round bass frequencies seep into a thespian violin melody.
If you're fond of Memphis rap from Three 6 Mafia, the drank-purple and weed-green shades of DJ Screw and their refined blend with cloud rap forged by A$AP Rocky and his cohorts, Lil Ugly Mane may merely pull punches, and if not for his peculiar persona and quirky production, the album would do such. Despite his name, location, and much of his subject matter, he transcends Southern implications and stretches toward current West Coast rap and its blunt-blowing champions, making Mista Thug Isolation difficult to place geographically.
[Lil Ugly Mane Facebook]
[Download/Buy Mista Thug Isolation from Ormolycka]