Comedy in music is difficult to pull off. I find that this is primarily for two reasons.
- Comedy is mostly a visual enterprise. Consider the fact that television and film clearly dominate the comedy genre as a whole, and how much better full stand-up comedy specials or live events sell compared to stand-up comedy CDs. Furthermore it’s generally difficult to write genuinely funny novels or books, and books that are truly funny are often heralded as an impressive feat.
- Comedy hates repetition. To be clear, what I mean here is that the same joke told over and over again repeatedly is generally less and less funny each time. Music in general is consumed somewhat repetitively; we play our favorite songs and albums over and over. If a certain song is carried by its humor, it loses its luster quickly in this way as the joke becomes less funny.
This is why a lot of comedy music is referred to as “novelty”. It’s designed to be its most enjoyable on the very first listen when it is still new. Novelty music and comedy music can be consumed repetitively, but it generally requires some other component to hold it together and make it enjoyable on repeated listens.
2017 XXL Freshman Ugly God’s debut mixtape The Booty Tape is a decent southern hip-hop mixtape, but it is mostly held up by the first-listen humor in Ugly God’s lyrics. There are real strengths in The Booty Tape: a number of these songs are genuinely funny on first listen, Ugly God did a fine job of producing a number of these tracks, and he has a great southern flow and voice for the genre. The problem with this tape is that it does not push any boundaries whatsoever, and it has very little lasting value once you’ve heard it a couple times. The lines that made me laugh out loud on my first listen were almost grating on even my second and third listens, and I found it astonishing how long this 23-minute mixtape felt after a handful of listens – it’s full of filler.
Nonetheless, Ugly God still should get some credit for how hilarious many of his lines are in this mixtape. The standout track here is obviously “Fuck Ugly God”, a diss-track that Ugly God has penned for himself. It’s a clever, well-written track and it might be the only track on the whole mixtape that I have continued to enjoy after double-digit listens. I don’t want to spoil any specific lines especially given how some of the humor here is in the shock value of hearing them for the first time, but tracks like “Stop Smoking Black & Milds” and “I’m A Nasty Hoe” are also full of great one-liners. This is a real rarity in hip-hop and music world as a whole. I actually laughed out loud multiple times while listening to The Booty Tape.
Ugly God’s delivery and flow is also a bright spot. He’s got a great voice even when switching between styles – from yelling on the banger “Fuck Ugly God” to laid-back rapping and even singing on “I’m a Nasty Hoe” and then performing his best Gucci Mane impression on “I’m Tryna Fuck” I found Ugly God’s voice and flow addicting and catchy. It’s interesting that he has chosen to intentionally come off as so silly and comedic on so many tracks because he really does have the voice and technical talent to broaden his horizons. Ugly God has to have had some kind of personal experience in his life to write at least some serious music, and I think his overall sound would benefit from that.
Finally, the beats on this mixtape can get somewhat repetitive, but in general I thought it was a well produced mixtape and I was surprised to learn that Ugly God had produced the vast majority of it. I think in general he is a little too quick to layer a song in massive bass hits that can drown out the rest of the track, but the trappy, southern-flavored beats are polished and perfect for Ugly God’s delivery and style. I think the best beats here are on the slower tracks. It’s exceedingly popular right now in the hip-hop world to create beats that so utterly soaked in atmospheric, alternative r&b type sounds that they sound corny, but Ugly God toes the line perfectly and tracks like “Welcome to the Booty Tape” and “I’m a Nasty Hoe” have great, relaxing trap beats.
I’m sure it’s pretty obvious after reading my introduction to this review and the titles of the tracks I have discussed so far where my complaints about The Booty Tape lie. While there is a lot of humor in this mixtape on early listens, it wears off so quickly that this mixtape is essentially just a novelty. Despite Ugly God’s solid flow and production, the humor and lyrical content is so immature that many of these songs burn out after a single listen. There is almost no lasting effect from The Booty Tape (outside of “Fuck Ugly God”) and many of these tracks are flat-out annoying on a second listen. There are brief moments where Ugly God is at least partially attempting to write a song that is meant to be taken seriously (“No Lies”, “Like a Maverick”), but the other tracks are so over-the-top that these tracks cannot really be taken seriously. Even worse, the tracks attempting to be somewhat serious are generic. They don’t convey anything interesting about Ugly God and mostly rest on the same hip-hop tropes that the funny tracks are attempting to make light of. At the very least, the funny tracks on The Booty Tape provide a couple laughs. The tracks written to be more serious are just duds.
Nonetheless, given that this debut project is 10 tracks long and just a short 23-minutes, I have a feeling that Ugly God understands and intentionally released this as a novelty project. It’s certainly not a bad listen once or twice, and its concision works in its favor. The production and Ugly God’s flow and style show enough promise that I’m still pretty excited for what he has in store in the future, but I’m sincerely hoping he does not resign himself to forever being a comedy hip-hop novelty. “Novelty” is the key word here. I’m not against comedy music in the slightest, but Ugly God is going to have to diversify, mature, and refine his sound in order to create music with a lasting effect in the future. Goofy genital metaphors will only last so long.
also who thought it was a good idea to put that stupid “THANKS UGLY GOD” sample in every single song