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Lil Ugly Mane at Brooklyn Bazaar

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Lil Ugly Mane at Brooklyn Bazaar

Travis Lil Ugly Mane is a multi-genre American recording artist. (Courtesy of Facebook)

Travis Lil Ugly Mane is a multi-genre American recording artist. (Courtesy of Facebook)

Travis Lil Ugly Mane is a multi-genre American recording artist. (Courtesy of Facebook)

Travis Lil Ugly Mane is a multi-genre American recording artist. (Courtesy of Facebook)


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By Kieran Press-Reynolds

Lil Ugly Mane is undeniably a bizarre name. What sane person would want to call themselves ugly? Only the most honest sort, a man who’s seen his face in the mirror and said, “I am ugly and I know it.” Or maybe it’s an act of warning, to say, “hey supporters, I just want to let you know to brace yourselves, because I am ugly.” Whatever the case, the rapper is an anomaly, and an enigma. He’s impossible to track down, always producing music under a zoo of side projects, most of which are now derelict.

I arrived at what felt like a derelict zoo itself, the Brooklyn Bazaar, at 10:30 pm sharp. I had timed it specifically to miss the four openers, not wanting to dull my ears before getting to appreciate the sheer magnificence of Ugly’s sonic brilliance.

Unluckily, my immediate point of contact was not Lil Ugly Mane, but a straggly-looking bloke. He could have been mistaken for a fanboy who’d made a lucky surge and found refuge on the stage. I quickly learned that he was the hype man, an up-and-coming DJ assigned to keep the crowd on their toes between sets. “Well, this is your big break, so give me all you’ve got,” I thought. It seemed like he had already been to the after party, though, so dazed beyond belief that all he could muster up were radio hits and intermittent requests for another water bottle from the crowd.

After a bit, the Brooklyn crowd began heckling him, furious that it was him on the stage and not Lil Ugly Mane. I thought to myself, “well, this is a lot of ruckus over nothing.” But then I noticed that the DJ was goading them on, shouting pejoratives back, accusing us of being an ungrateful lot after being given such an obviously riveting succession of performances.

After a short while of this back and forth business, the speakers began going haywire. I wondered if the venue’s technician was about to come on the stage and announce, “technical difficulties, go home.” That certainly would’ve excited the DJ, who had begun to bore a look of embarrassed desperation, like he was a suburban dad whose son’s little league team was about to be mercied in front of the in-laws.

It turned out it was just Lil Ugly Mane’s first song, “Leonard’s Lake.” The song didn’t even have a beat, just pure scraping noise. But like a faulty fire hydrant, the entire crowd erupted, moshing like this was the club banger they had waited hours for.

I had a few apprehensions about moshing. One, I was alone, so if I angered any fellow mosher with a stray elbow or a cheeky uppercut, they could unleash their hounds on me and I would have no defense to put up in response. And two, more importantly, I had brought with me my Uniqlo fur coat, and I did not want to lose it.

But when “B—h I’m Lugubrious” soon came on, it was like a dementor possessed me. The song is my personal anthem. It is so versatile, as it can be played at both a club and a funeral. I ripped off my jacket with the belligerence of a young Genghis Khan, and charged forward.

I soon found out, though, that I was outclassed at every level. One larger man, loudly projecting his intentions for no one to enjoy the concert but him, was doing the Soulja Boy crank in rotation, maintaining a sort of no man’s land circle of imminent harm. Another man, shirtless, decided to perform a live remix of the track by imitating a machine gun with “DU-DU-DU-DU-DU” sound effects. They did more than just add texture, though, in fact drowning out the entire song. How was I supposed to prove my worth as an Ugly stan if I couldn’t mosh or sing along?

I made strides during the song “Wishmaster,” when I raged so furiously that Ugly noticed and blessed me with a hand shake. It felt like the Midas touch, an incorporeal engraving that remarked, “you are now a transcendent being.” Even though Ugly shook other people’s hands as well, this one had a reason for it, a sort of Olympic gold medal for going hard.

Ugly himself got really into the performance. Every so often, he made attempts at incapacitation by bashing his head with the microphone. It was an artistic way to affirm his ranking as underground rap’s most brazen self-hater, although I’ll have to be honest and admit I wasn’t inspired enough to imitate the motion.

Seeing Lil Ugly Mane live had been an aspiration of mine for some time now, but by the time he had cycled through his catalogue of 6 tracks, I didn’t feel quite satisfied. “Well, that was pretty good, though, I guess,” I consoled myself, hopping off the second-hand smoke fumes.

Lil Ugly Mane is one of the most legendary artists of the past decade. His 2012 album Mista Thug Isolation is considered seminal for underground rap. I feel like this concert did not serve him justice. While I enjoyed the songs he played, the concert felt way too short and uneventful considering how long everyone had waited for him throughout the night.

If anything, I learned that ugliness is only in the eye of the beholder, because Lil Ugly Mane was certainly beautiful.

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Lil Ugly Mane at Brooklyn Bazaar