Posts Tagged ‘Rvidxr Klvn’

Although this has been a year filled with some mysterious characters, those that shy away from the limelight, those with alter-egos, and those who avoid social media, Lil’ Ugly Mane has to be one of the rap games most mysterious artists these days.  No twitter account, goes on prolonged facebook hiatuses, fluctuates the prices of his bandcamp albums, dropping cassette tape only physical releases and extremely limited edition t-shirts.  Add to that his various sonic influences, vocal modulators, split producer and rapper personas, lack of concerts, and limited reliable information online and there’s a legitimate veil around Lil Ugly Mane that adds to the mystique of his art.

I caught up with Lil Ugly Mane to talk about what he’s been up to and when we can expect the follow up to this year’s excellent Mista Thug Isolation. I also asked him to explain why he unplugged from the net in May, his production techniques and his writing process.  Along the way we discussed why he feels rap is as standardized as ever, the saturation of the sound he, SpaceGhostPurrp, and others brought to the forefront, and why his next album could sound very different from Mista Thug Isolation and Playaz Circle

JB: After dropping Mista Thug Isolation, and aside from a couple appearances on the SupaSonic project you produced for Supa Sortahuman this year, you really have laid pretty low this year other than picking up a few production credits.  What have you been working on? 

Lil Ugly Mane:

I’m constantly producing – it’s literally all I do most of the time – but i scrap a lot of shit or just forget that it exists. I do a lot of waiting around for the right beat to happen.  I don’t wanna just rap on bullshit that’s good, I need production to fluidly make sense in regards to mixtapes and what not, quality of quantity I guess, don’t wanna drop 20 mixtapes.  I respect people that can pull that shit off, but its not me, everything I make I want to resonate on certain tones precisely and I cant do that unless everything is how it already exists in my head.  Right now I’m like neck deep in beats and lyrics that I’m trying to make sense of.
JB: I hear you.  Jumping into that process for a second… as a rapper how do you approach song writing?  Are you writing lyrics all the time and fitting it to the appropriate beat when you find it?  Or do you write to your beats? Or I should say, do you write only to the beat that you’re going to record a song over?

Lil Ugly Mane:

Honestly, the whole process for writing is along the same lines as beat making for me. A lot of time shit just happens when it happens.  I don’t like to force myself to do anything, I think the end product suffers when you put deadlines and expectations on shit.  But I mean usually when I’m writing, I write to old Lord Finesse instrumentals and or like Premo instrumentals and shit – I wrote cup fulla beetlejuice over the Smif N Wessun “Bucktown” instrumental – I dont know why really, I just think it takes me back to like middle school when you are just making rhymes cuz its fun or you’re bored, there isnt any bullshit attached to it.


SpaceGhostPurrp – “Tha Phonk”

There’s been a serious drought of Raider Klan material over the last month (despite these two releases this week) – which has to be something strategic given their propensity to release music at a pretty rapid pace.  Perhaps they’re gearing up for some new solos (Amber London and SpaceGhostPurrp both have new projects on the way in the next month or so), but perhaps they’re gearing up for the Raider Klan’s official group mixtape, which has been discuss a lot in my interviews with them, despite the lack of any official word.

This week I’ve decided to go with two new Raider Klan mixes highlighting one area of their work which is probably over discussed with relation to their catalog – their 90’s themed phonk music – and the other which is under documented – their more ethereal, spiritual, and occasionally socio-political music.  Everyone, who has any sense of the Raider Klan, has a pretty good sense of the fact that they’re 90’s babies who frequently recall the music and imagery of their birth decade and reimagine g-funk, Memphis underground, and DJ Screw – along with many other subgenres – themed music into a modern context.  The reality is that looking at them as a collective (something which is somewhat problematic given their diversity of styles) they really don’t create “90’s music” that often when compared to some of today’s revivalists, especially as a percentage of their overall catalog.  It’s certainly not an insubstantial portion of their catalog and there are individual artists like Amber London, Ethelwulf, and Key Nyata that more frequently access those themes in their music, but on the flip side there are members – like their leader SpaceGhostPurrp for instance – who rap over tracks that sound distinctly 90’s relatively infrequently.  Having said that, some of Raider Klan artists do make great music in that vein and the influence of 90’s music and 90’s rap artists is certainly apparent throughout the music of the collective.  No Fakin’ Tha Phonk is a collection of selected pieces of classic Raider Klan 90’s phonk.  In contrast to KLVN MENTALITY, which highlighted the group’s collaborative efforts and diversity, No Fakin’ Tha Phonk focuses on many of the Klan’s best solo acts, in some cases the usual suspects crossover to show up again as Amber London and Ethelwulf for instance are most heralded for their guest spots and their 90’s themed tracks.  There’s also a good dose of artists here who didn’t show up on KM (or only showed up briefly), such as Key Nyata, Young Renegade, Yung Raw, Harvey G, Dough Dough, and Grandmilly.


During my time covering the Raider Klan I’ve had a lot of people ask me “what’s so exceptional about them?,” or “why are you wasting time covering teenagers when there are great artists, more seasoned artists, putting out high quality projects in 2012?”  My initial response to those people is, well, I cover them too.  I have written reviews and lauded praise on the likes of Ka, Billy Woods, Illogic, El-P, Killer Mike, Jackie Chain, SL Jones and many others this year who have years in the game and release a refined high quality product.    Actually, the only Raider Klan related album that I’ve put up for “Best of a Quarter” honors was SpaceGhost’s Mysterious Phonk, hardly a lo-fi bedroom studio endeavor.

However, with Raider Klan my interest goes a little deeper than just the quality of their product.  Raider Klan represents a group of young people across the country who feel they fit outside of the general rap aesthetics of the mainstream, some of their music – though admittedly not all – attests to this.  I admit there is a lot to sift through with Raider Klan, there are a dozens of members, a t least a couple dozen of whom make music, dozens of mixtapes, thousands of tracks on youtube, lots of klvn, 2.7.5., & BRK handles to sift through on twitter to figure out who’s in, who’s out, who’s really in, and which rappers are the rappers one needs to pay the most attention.  The other aspect that won’t intrigue many of my normal readers is that the Raider Klan as a collective are, generally, fairly disinterested in lyricism for the sake of lyricism.  While it’s hard to speak on them collectively – since there are at least twenty five or thirty of them making music – most of them prize style over substance, and most of their substance strokes are broad and indefinite.  Their primary concern musically is the ultimate quest for the phonk, the ability to convey the appropriate musical vibe the marriage of the vocal performance and the beat.  In an era when so much rap is devoid of a strong relationship with it’s musical ancestry, the Raider Klan members are hyper conscious of their roots, and paying homage to those who came before them.  Where else in 20120 can you hear a Bone Thugs influenced rapper, alongside an Ice Cube influenced rapper, alongside a Boss influenced rapper, over a g-funk track fashioned by a midwest producer and have them all be open and honest about the rappers they’re channeling and who truly influences them.  What’s more impressive is that they manage to do this without sounding like a bunch of dinosaurs trying to revive their youth or a bunch of new jacks sharking an aesthetic without any sense of the history behind it.  For those with whom the 90’s shtick may wear a bit thin, especially those of us who lived through the 90’s first hand, they actually make some very good music that competes with their contemporaries quite well on a modern playing field.


SpaceGhostPurrp Performs Live at SOB’s with a couple dozen of his NYC homies

Although Raider Klan is often viewed as a kind of 90’s revivalist movement for southern artists, New York is an unofficial second outpost for the Raider Klan.  After all it was in New York, not Florida or Memphis, where SpaceGhostPurrp’s work with A$AP Rocky helped both of them gain national attention and grow both of their vibes.  It was also in New York where Matt Stoops was recently jumped by A$AP Twelvy – an incident that’s been talked about quite a bit on twitter on the internet, but really only a symbolic boiling point in tensions that have been mounting between the two camps for some time due to creative differences, petty slights, and some other incidents that have continued to push the two camps at odds with one another after their previously amicable relationship.  

Despite the fact that Grandmilly may technically be the only New York member who’s made a contribution to the Raider Klan catalog to date (at least in the form of a full album/mixtape that’s received some decent recognition online), few know that Matt Stoops is one of Purrp’s most trusted allies, a friend so close they refer to each other as cousins, and Stoops holds a kind of consigliere status next to Purrp in the Klan’s hierarchy.  Big Zeem plays a similar role in working with Grandmilly and is one of the Klan members who’s interested in turning Raider Klan fashion sense into a clothing line.  I caught up with Milly and Zeem a little over a month ago to talk about their debut, Bandanas & Black Magic and to get a sense of how they fit into the increasingly growing Raider Klan puzzle.  I also caught up with Matt Stoops to get his viewpoint on a few topics as one of few Raider Klan members who actually has a good read on where SpaceGhostPurrp’s head is at, at any given moment.  These are the voices of the New York chapter of the Raider Klan.

Link to Part 1: Memphis (Ethelwulf, Chris Travis, & Yung Raw) and Part 3: Southwest (Amber London, Chris Travis, Yung Raw)

JB: Matt, describe to people your role in Raider Klan.  You’re not a rapper so what’s your role with the Klan.

Matt Stoops:

Nah, I’m not a rapper so it’s like family.  SpaceGhost is like my cousin and I’ve known him probably the longest out of anybody in the Klan and we’re really close and we call each other cousins and shit.  We’re trying to start-up a skate team, but it hasn’t started off yet, we’re trying to get shit together right now and I skate and shit like that.  But other than that, when Purrp is gone and he has like business I try to go take care of that for him if he’s not in town.

JB: How did you meet SpaceGhost?

Matt Stoops:

I’ve known SpaceGhost for about five or six years.  I met him when I went down to Atlanta and shit, just on twitter pretty much and this was back when nobody knew who he was and my friend from Mississippi, who lived down in Atlanta at the time put me onto his music and we started talking on twitter and shit, and this was like before he moved in with Rocky and all that shit.  And we just became really cool and when he moved up to New York he stayed with me for a couple of days before he moved in with Rocky.  And we were always together in New York while he was living with Rocky.


“Black Magic” Ethelwulf & Yung Raw

Since “Nostalgia Rap Surrealism – Decoding the RVIDXR KLVN” was published here on I’ve been working to put together an interview with all of the Raider Klan members.  Initially, I planned to interview every member individually, combine their answers, and create one collective interview for the entire Raider Klan.  While this is still the intention of the project, having finished about eleven of the interviews, with plenty still to go, I realized that there’s way too much material to publish in one interview without severely editing the material down.  It also became clear to me, that with the fast moving pace of music today, and the Klan’s development, that by the time I got around to interview each member, the earliest interviews would be extremely dated.  The Memphis interviews were three of the first ones I did on the project so I thought it made sense to share them now.  And then share each of the group’s regionally, as I found throughout the process that like their music, the attitudes of the Raider Klan members is often strongly influenced by their locality, despite the group’s geographic diversity and diversity of musical influence.  It is important to note chronologically that the interview with Chris Travis was done over two months ago, Yung Raw was interviewed in the middle of June, and Ethelwulf was interviewed in mid-July.  If you haven’t yet, be sure to check out Chris Travis’s Codeine and Pizza, Yung Raw’s The Trill OG, and Ethelwulf’s The Wolf Gang’s Rodolphe as they undoubtedly represent three of the finest Raider Klan projects to date.

Link here to Part 2: NYC (Grandmilly, Matt Stoops, & Big Zeem) and Part 3: Southwest (Amber London, Eddy Baker, Sky Lex)

JB: What projects to you have coming up?


Well actually, right now, I don’t really have anything coming up really.  Well, actually I might do this mixtape with this producer named DJ Manny Virgo.  I’ve been working with him so that’ll probably be the next thing popping up if I get to it real fast.  I don’t know what it’s going to be called yet.  I’m just waiting on him to send me the rest of the beats, it’s going to be a five track EP.  Once he sends me the rest of the beats I’ll be working on them and we can crank something out.

Chris Travis:

My next project is gonna be, I don’t know what I’m going to call it yet [editor’s note: it ended up being this past week’s Codeine and Pizza mixtape], but the theme is going to be underground horror.  I’m trying to find a producer.  I’d like one producer to producer the whole mixtape if possible.

Yung Raw:

My next project will probably drop in 2013.  I don’t know the exact time.  Most likely around Spring Break if not before Spring Break, because I want to make sure everything is down packed again, everything is perfect.  Because if your work is not perfect, if you got one bad song, and everybody can have one bad song, people can say you’re not a good rapper.  You want to make sure everything is at a good point, or your buzz can fall all the way down.  So I’m not going to rush it.  Also, you don’t want to give out too much free music, because you’ll be over and done with before it’s time to release your real album and people won’t have time to crave it and build that buzz.