Priddy Ugly finally drops his much anticipated debut album after making music for 12 years now. It's been a long time coming, a rollercoaster journey, and through it all he's kept his cool head, dripping swag, unwavering grace, and has never lost sight of the music. He lets go of a project he is fully proud of and satisfied with in the history of all his projects. Welcome to the story of EGYPT...
He opens the album with the enchanting title track intro which has him almost explaining his state of mind on the album. A soft prayer of gratitude for everything he's gone through to arrive at this very moment. The harmonies on this track are so spiritual, and the fact that he had the assistance of Vanilla Blaq (Refilwe Modiselle) and Bontle Modiselle makes the build up on the track that much more beautiful. The family affair continues as he chats to his dad at the opening of Ambition II a continuation of the story of triumph and what it took to be where he is right now. He's missed so many things, seen a lot of things, and through it all he's growing up. There's something that growing older does to you and you hear that kind of mature reflection in his voice on this song. He even sounds like nothing you've heard him sound like in terms of vocal retouch, the execution is so dreamy and fitting to the feelings he's evoking. We're getting introduced to a side of Priddy Ugly we've never seen out in the open, the family man he truly is. Conversations and love for family play a big role in the album.
He links up with his love Bontle on the soothing I Pray as they get cosy and get lost in each other's company shutting the rest of the world out. You feel almost privileged to be let into Priddy's earnest thoughts 'cause someone's prayer is a private sanctuary. The song is just magic, a pure comfort - and it's very relatable. Got us wishing for the perfect "Netflix and chill" partner who you can listen to Floetry with. So far the album is nothing but mellow and sophisticated, not that you wouldn't expect such music from Priddy, but the fact that we essentially don't know him this deeply makes it all the more refreshing. He pulls us into another float-zone on Runaway Girl which speaks on a lost girl who seems to look for love in the wrong places making her sound toxic, giving of herself carelessly. Priddy's approach to this song is dope 'cause the topic is so important yet the production carries a certain mystic to it which paints this broken woman as a faint creature who seems to find herself tangled in the bad weeds of life. I wish KLY would've been more involved on the rest of the track, there's just something about his voice and presence that elevates the story.
Priddy Ugly is being deliberate in the sounds he's exposing us to on this album, something truly unknown yet not farfetched. He can't possibly fake this magic, it's been in him all along and it took us this long to get to know him better. Look Alike is a beautiful calypso track praising the beauty of a woman. Her very natural poison and nectar, her skin and the dance in her complete being. In all the music you've heard thus far, Priddy Ugly is very consistent in the way he sounds on all the tracks, his voice doesn't go up nor down, he seems to maintain a perfect flow of energy throughout all the tracks. This is immaculate given that the sounds on the album are also very diverse. WE NEED A SEXY VIDEO FOR THIS HERE SONG MY GUY. Shu! In that same beat, the party picks up as we tap into Smogolo which finds us already dancing from the previous track. The evident kwaito influence on the track will remind you of Tshela, the following track, which when you first heard in isolation pondered on whether Priddy was transitioning his sound. We have yet another case of perfect synergy in album arrangement where a song fits the tone without a flinch. Struggle has never sounded so cool like the way it does on Smogolo. Can we add that the multiple samples on this one song are so ingenious? Very well blended, laid out to concise precision, creating a level of nostalgia with this track. Enter Tshela and we put our morals on a tea break to get down to the filling up of our sippy cups. We get a tinge of the "old Priddy" we've been exposed to many times before in the crazy 808 production by master Wichi 1080 and the former's characteristic playful flow. Who finished our drinks?!
What a perfect transition we witness in the cue of Bietjie which was already planted in Tshela. The tracks match so seamlessly you almost feel like Bietjie is simply a new pocket in Tshela. Priddy Ugly's playful flows and word play on this track are what make his music relatable to everyone - "Piki piki mabelane..." yet another element of nostalgia added to this song. The party quiets down for some clean bar slanging with II Wavey in case you thought the rhymes took a holiday while we were floating in the top half of the album. A slight continuation of Cocaine Ghost comes in the form of Karapao, a car that Priddy Ugly grew up around and has stood the test of time like his career. The metaphors of "cheap cars" to new whips and a better life are intertwined all over the song as Priddy paints a picture of a hustler going about his missions in his timeless car that has gotten him to more than just between point A and B. Keep driving bro, don't stop! One thing you have to hail about EGYPT is its impeccable continuation from one track to the other. Without the use of interludes, Priddy manages to connect his songs simply by concept fluidity. Him reviving the Karapao from 02Hero is perfect testament to that. He and Shane Eagle sport a fitting match on this song as their both stealthy emcees in the game who firstly come from the same place, but secondly have an underdog story to them. For the longest time he and Shane's fans have given them the "underrated" label all the while celebrating their rise to claiming irreplaceable spots in SA Hip Hop. They in some or other form, are heroes to themselves and their people.
As we arrive at the end of our tour around EGYPT, we go back into grungy mode with those mad 808's. This uncanny, fleeting production is so unshakeable. Truth Be Told with KLY and Wichi ushers in that, "saving the best for last" typa feeling with only banging tracks remaining in the closing of the album. Again, there's a certain magic KLY brings to a track and he shows his chameleon once again alongside Priddy and Wichi on this track. Wichi steps up into another hat as he drops some impressive bars here. Hmm? Project maybe Mr. 1080? Phela ikhona iflow beyps! The trippy switch into Karrots gives you that, "oh shit!" reaction 'cause there's no real warning on the transition. This track was made in Swaziland if I'm not mistaken. I remember checking in on Priddy and Wichi in their hotel room where they had set up a studio and were WORKING. The very night they performed this track on stage at the Hipnotik festival. Memories.
Let me tell you the story of Lucky's Interlude: Lucky is an 11 year old Priddy Ugly fan who sent him this rendition of his many freestyles to his songs. He's so swaggy on this track though. This beat was bare when it was decided that they're going to put Lucky on it before they close off the album. So magical! The synthetic strings that consume the track along with those beautiful harmonies here and there take this interlude to the top. It's so dope to see how flexible Priddy can be with his own music sounding like he was inspired by Lucky to also freestyle the original track. Quick question: Where did Lucky get the women in his pool? WE NEED ANSWERS NUNU.
An immaculate display of reflection, alternative thought to what we're used to, EGYPT truly goes to show that what Priddy Ugly said with You Don't Know Me Yet stands true. Is this who he really is? Yes, and much more to come. He closes the album with the celebratory In The Mood as he sends us off from this journey we just followed for the past 14 tracks. I am very proud of this offering. When someone has been making amazing music for so many years, makes a big unexpected move (signing to a major label), and continues to champion his own sound regardless, you have nothing but respect to pass his way. We made it to the first stop my leader. Here's to many more trips to other places in your heart, mind and music Priddy Ugly. REPEAT!
Get it on iTunes right now!