Yesterday, Lil Ugly Mane took to Facebook and made a post about his experience with America’s pisspoor mental health industry. He notes spending “a lifetime ignoring this shit”–presumably referring to the decision to treat whatever mental illness he was facing. The Richmond rapper recalled checking into a psychiatric hospital after three months of anxiety–and essentially being considered too low-risk to treat because he had purposely gone in lucid enough to fully articulate his pain.
If the doctors who gave him a ceremonial pat on the back didn’t understand his feelings, they’d definitely feel volume 1: flick your tongue against your teeth and describe the present, the project Ugly Mane released under a Bedwetter alter-ego. It’s a subversive, pensive project that—especially in the context of his letter—doesn’t sound like it came from a good place. That said, the six track project is a masterful channeling of his pain, with moody, experimental trap and impassioned roars abound.
The relatively abbreviated tracklist contains just two songs where Bedwetter rhymes in full, but both are riveting enough to speak for themselves. On “man wearing a helmet,” Ugly Mane weaves a vivid narrative of a kid being kidnapped by strangers. As he’s stuffed in a truck, he cradles an X-men card, in fear of his life before being locked in a basement.
The previously released “stoop lights” seems to be an autobiographical account of Bedwetter’s struggle with alcoholism, as he notes, “I got nothin’ to say to me, I spend every day with me” and matter-of-factly recalls “puke in my mouth I got used to the flavor.”
On volume 1…, Bedwetter sounds like a musical combustion. Railing at himself. Railing at the system that is too bogged down in red tape to realize they failed him. He’s passionately brooding while submerged in the booze that’s only a temporary escape. The production doesn’t meet his vocal intensity, but the dichotomy works. Each track is a slow build, an audible retelling of the agonizing three months—and lifelong journey—that led him to seek professional mental help. The haunting soundscape is apt for him to hurl his aggressions against, or to simply communicate his despondence through instrumental melody.
As accountability and empathy continue to be at a dearth in the mental health industry, millions more like Ugly Mane walk the streets with the same depressed plod. A shame they aren’t all capable of quite conveying it in this manner.
You can stream volume 1: flick your tongue against your teeth and describe the present below.