The metal skull Priddy Ugly holds in his hand has a crown on it. He twists the crown over and over and the smile on skull crusher does not fade. When the rapper - whose real name is Ricardo Moloi - released his 2016 mixtape, You Don’t Know Me Yet, he was the heir apparent to the hip hop throne.
On the deluxe of You Don’t Know Me Yet, the fiercely independent artist put on a song called Tlala, where he defiantly rapped: Sign a deal for what? For you to cut my money in half? And then, in 2017, he signed to Ambitiouz Entertainment.
Ek soek a bietjie stickie then we get this money - Bietjie
Priddy Ugly’s debut album, E.G.Y.P.T was released through Ambitiouz Entertainment this year. Throughout the 15-track offering, he lets us in on his family dynamics, his pursuit of success and of course, there is a lot of flexing about his wordplay and about women.
Peppered between these topics is a recurring theme of self-medicating to ward off figurative and literal headaches.
On 02Hero, featuring Shane Eagle, Priddy Ugly raps: I’m medicated but dedicated to better greatness.
I broach the subject of this common thread throughout the music and Priddy Ugly says: “Yes, it refers to weed. But also, 2017 was a very tough year for me healthwise.
“Migraines, not drinking water, I could go through a week and only sleep twice. I had just joined the label and just put this pressure on myself to finish the album. There was just a lot happening with my family as well. That didn’t make it easy for me to be in a work state of mind.”
His father’s voice rings through the start of Ambition II and on that phone call, he implores Priddy Ugly to not let anything negatively affect him. On the cool, kwaito-tinged Smogolo, Priddy Ugly raps about how his gran is dying for a visit and how he needs to save her.
Then she appears on the second phone call on the album, to bestow blessings upon him and reassure him that when his album comes out, she will be blasting it throughout her house.
Priddy Ugly. Picture: Blunt Moya
Needless to say: family is such a big part of his life, that it’s only honest for Priddy Ugly to make it a part of his music too.
“Working on E.G.Y.P.T was the toughest time of my life,” he admits. “And yes, I smoked a lot of weed but I had a lot of inspiration and locked myself in the studio for three months before the album dropped.”
Blow me away like a hookah pipe - Look Alike
E.G.Y.P.T is an acronym for Everything Godly Yearns Patience and Time and features the likes of Bontle Modiselle, KLY, Emtee and producer, Wichi.
Patience is something his day one fans had very little of once they heard this album. Already, the lead single, Mood featuring labelmate, Saudi, pointed to a different Priddy Ugly.
There are drawn out intonations popularised by the lean boys and lyrics that aren’t as thought-provoking as fans have been accustomed to from Priddy Ugly. They weren’t even a little blown away. Fans were opinionated and he was not prepared to have his debut album become polarising.
“Not at all,” he says as he shakes his head, “I thought E.G.Y.P.T far surpassed You Don’t Know Me Yet. Like tenfold. From a production level to content and the ideas.
“The issue I always had with You Don’t Know Me Yet was that it was for the rap and trap fans but I always faced this in interviews: people still didn’t know who I was. I made that [mixtape] after I had just dropped out of school doing my third year in sound engineering and that was mine and Wichi’s first project and we did it in a week.
“It was titled You Don’t Know Me Yet because it was a fraction of what I can do. It was just about being cool. But with E.G.Y.P.T, it was about being real.”
With that said, Priddy Ugly is real about the fact that he had to make some changes from the style we knew him for. He shares: “I just signed to the label and they tell you: ‘we need to make you a commercial success so you can’t be doing some deep, underground stuff that people aren’t going to understand. You complain that your songs aren’t being played on the radio? We need radio songs now’.”
Watch a stoner flex - I Pray
The mouth on the skull opens to reveal an ashtray and this outspoken rapper sheds some light on how Tshela, a fan-favourite on this album, came about.
Years ago, he’d been performing the chorus - which sounds catchy but is reality in the sense that his gran really was toothless, his mom really wasn’t cooking and he really was broke.
But, as he explains: “At the time, I was really afraid to do vernac.”
Then the Kempton Park-raised muso puts on a mock accent and continues: “Because it doesn’t fit my brand,” he laughs. “I thought I catered to the people who were in between suburbia and the hood.
“I’d released Bula Boot and it never blew up. Speedsta put it on his Hot 9 at 9 show on YFM and it debuted at number seven.
“ I’d never heard of a song entering the charts one week and not being found the next week. But that’s what happened.”
So far, Tshela, has received a lot of love and Priddy Ugly has been performing more now than when he was independent.
While E.G.Y.P.T was born out of a tough time in Priddy Ugly’s life, he seems to be in a better place now. He believes he still has a smoking hot career ahead of him.
The crown might still be his for the taking.
Buy Priddy Ugly’s E.G.Y.P.T at online and physical music stores