"Never forget what you are. The rest of the world will not. Wear it like armor, and it can never be used to hurt you."
That's one of the first (of many)
Mocked for being ugly by school kids when he was growing up, Ugly God has embraced his so-called ugliness as a virtue. A virtue that's not only made him a god by
"It's been crazy," the young rapper mutters on the phone.
Just a couple of years ago, he was double-majoring in engineering and web development at the University of Southern Mississippi and had zero on-the-mic or beat-making experience under his belt. Fast-forward a bit, and now he's a
That single is the infectious "Water," a woozy track that sounds right at home in the new rap weirdo ecology where eccentric voices like Lil Yachty, Fetty Wop, and D.R.A.M. are marking their territory. Written, produced, and mixed by Ugly God himself, it's a striking accomplishment for someone who just started "doing this rap shit" a couple of years ago. And its simple yet engaging video, featuring the god and a pair of ladies on a boat, has racked up more 26 million views as of this writing.
"It got me on tour without even having a project out," Ugly God says. "It got me on Billboard, on radio stations, on stage — so many things, it's crazy."
While the song has definitely boosted Ugly God's profile in the rap community, he's been building up a serious presence as a weirdo rap celeb online (in some ways filling the niche that used to be occupied by Odd Future's arty-hoodlum shenanigans). Check his Instagram sometime, and you'll see the rapper wearing live lizards as accessories, posing with a baby-sized Superman doll in a driveway, and posting so much Pokemon-related content it's hard not to wonder if he's gunning to be the first rapper with a Nintendo endorsement deal. It's an aesthetic that carries over into his music, like on the cover art for the "Water" single, which features a drawing of Ugly God "blasting off" inside Team Rocket's Jessie.
For someone who's so new to the rap game, he doesn't claim to have many role models or sources of inspiration.
"Everything is self-inspired," the god proclaims. "I didn't even grow up listening to rap. I listened to reggae and country."
He will concede to feeling
"I could I say I was inspired by Soulja Boy," he says. "Not from his music, but from the fact that he was young, produced his own beats, and blew up from his house onto the internet. And that's the route I'm taking. I'm just coming at it from a different angle."
He's not kidding about the different angle. For a genre that prides itself on bravado and machismo, Ugly God is content to drift into a different lane. One of his early online hits was "I Beat My Meat," after all.
While rock has plenty of choking-the-bishop anthems,
Ugly God plans to follow-up the wave of interest from his recent success by dropping his first major release, The Booty Tape, later this year.
"It's got so much fire production, mostly by me;
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While he's coy about saying who's on the album, it's been reported that he's recently worked with Metro Boomin and Lil Yachty.
Those big names aside, Ugly God isn't too big on collaboration at the moment. "I don't get on other people's tracks, or on their beats ... I like to keep everything organic, within myself." There is one person that he'd love to work with one day: Caitlyn Jenner.
"I just want to tell her she's so brave; she's like the bravest person on Earth. And that's why I respect her: she was brave, coming out like that, with all eyes on her. We could do a song about that."
Ugly God will be performing Thursday, March 2, at Monarch Theatre.