Music
Photo by Sabelo Mkhabela.

Priddy Ugly Impresses On His Highly-Anticipated Debut Album ‘EGYPT’

Listen to the new album from one of the most exciting South African rappers.

Last week Friday, Priddy Ugly released his highly anticipated debut album EGYPT. Here, "EGYPT" doesn't necessarily represent the country, but is an acronym for "Everything Godly Yearns Patience and Time."


Priddy Ugly is one of the most exciting rappers in South Africa at the moment. Even though you can pick up a few of his influences in his music, just like with every rapper in the world, his style is unlike anything you've heard before.

The rapper released one of the best EPs of the current decade with You Don't Know Me Yet last year. His eccentric delivery, which sees him emphasize syllables with a cooler-than-you drawl, sets him apart. His chemistry with his producer Wichi 1080, who produced YDKMY in its entirety, makes the two an indomitable force of nature.

For the past few years, Priddy Ugly, alongside extremely talented rappers like YoungstaCPT, Rouge and a few others, has been playing on the fringes of the mainstream. That didn't make sense to a lot of his fans. The music industry, as we know it, operates in a weird way, and great music doesn't always win.

After years of being "slept on," it looks like the rapper who hails from The East Rand in Johannesburg, is ready to expand his fan-base.

On EGYPT, which is his first release since he signed to Ambitiouz Entertainment earlier this year, Priddy shows an understanding of this.

In the first five tracks, he hardly raps, opting instead to croon most of his verses, which is a deliberate and calculated move. We can't escape that hip-hop is becoming prevalently melodic, and singing is a style that helps artists penetrate markets they otherwise wouldn't if all they did was rap.

In a back-and-forth with a disgruntled day-one fan on Twitter, who felt the album was "too commercial," Priddy Ugly retorted, "Do you still wear the same clothes, and do the same things you were doing 7 years ago? The aim is [to] grow, [and] that includes the fan base."

The song "Ambition II," which is a sequel to "Ambition" from YDKMY, a song that's close to the rapper's heart, sets the tone for the album. Priddy Ugly reflects on his personal life and his journey in the game. At the end of the song, the rapper lets us in on a personal phone call with his auntie.

In the song, he trades the 808s and knocking bass lines for an actual bass guitar and smooth keys. "I Pray," which features TV personality and Priddy Ugly's girlfriend Bontle Modiselle, takes the same singing route and the production leans as far from trap as possible. In "Look Alike" the rapper carries on his singing streak, this time over a familiar soundscape.

Things start getting heated up on "Smogolo," the sixth song on EGYPT. Over a slowed-down skhanda-type beat by the pioneer of the skhanda subgenre, production genius Lunatik, Priddy Ugly starts to sound like the Priddy Ugly fans fell in love with on YDKMY–he's rapping and the beat will see your face contort.

"Smogolo" has a kwaito influence without sampling any old school kwaito song, unlike most hip-hop songs that are inspired by kwaito. "Tshela," the second single off of EGYPT, takes the same route: a kwaito influence and Priddy flexing flows and rapping in more vernac than you've ever heard him.

In our interview with the rapper earlier this year, he revealed the song had been two years in the works, and because of the amount of vernacular rhymes it contained, he wasn't comfortable releasing it because he was more comfortable rapping in English.

"Tshela" transitions seamlessly into "Bietjie," another bass-heavy gem which features the trap god Emtee. These transitions are rife on the album, and they contribute to the coherence and wholesomeness of EGYPT, and are an indicator of great craftsmanship at work.

From "Smogolo" until the last song, Priddy Ugly and Wichi 1080 prove that they both deserve a spot on your top five list. EGYPT becomes a fest of bravado, slang, lyrical delivery and virtuoso production skills on songs like "Karrots," "Karapao," "02Hero" (featuring Shane Eagle), "Truth Be Told" (featuring KLY and Wichi 1080)" and "In The Mood" (featuring Saudi). And can we talk about that Shane Eagle verse, though?

The pair's chemistry shines throughout. Wichi 1080 pulls out tricks from his sleeve–the bass lines knock hard, the 808s complement them, and the synths and pads vary from dreamy to grimy and every mood in between.

Depending on your taste and your interpretation of the first five songs, EGYPT is a solid album, with the right amount of features, and varying subject matter. And most importantly, EGYPT has songs that, even though monolithic, aren't duplicates of each other. There are uncountable single prospects, which give Priddy Ugly a huge chance of doing great things in 2018.

Listen to EGYPT below, and download it here.

Revisit our in-studio interview with Priddy Ugly and Wichi 1080, from a few months ago, here.

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6 Things We Learned About African Migration to Europe in 2019 From a New UN Report

UNDP representatives presented their "Scaling Fences: Voices of Irregular African Migrants to Europe" report last night at Okay Space. Here's what we found out.

Yesterday, Okay Space hosted a discussion between UN luminaries Ahunna Eziakonwa, Mohamed Yahya and OkayAfrica CEO, Abiola Oke about the new UNDP report, Scaling Fences: Voices of Irregular African Migrants to Europe. The report examines young Africans who are leaving their homes to make the dangerous journey to Europe for economic opportunities—not solely for asylum or to escape persecution. The evening was both enlightening and sobering, and the main findings may be a little different than what you might expect.

Immigration to Europe from Africa is roughly 90 percent lower than what it was in 2015.

In 2015, slightly over 1 million Africans left for Europe. In 2018, it was just over 100,000. However, the percentage of those who drown on the journey has increased. In 2015, it was 1.6 percent of that million, while it grew to 2 percent in 2018. Meaning just over 2,000 people died enroute in 2018 alone. It is a disturbing factor that, four years on, more people are dying proportionately than when the large migrations began.

Even though most of Africa is rural, most of the youth leaving the continent for economic reasons are from the urban areas.


85 percent of those who the report identified came from urban cities or towns, though only 45 percent of Africans overall live in those urban areas. This means that most of them are coming from regions with "relatively low levels of deprivation." Analysts believe the rapid urbanization of many African cities could be a contributing factor. Benin City, Nigeria, for instance, has urbanized 122 percent in only ten years. These cities cannot actually support the people—and their ambitions and talents—who live there. It plateaus and does not allow for further upward mobility.

Only 2 percent of those who left say knowing the dangers would have deterred them.

This means 98 percent would do it again, despite the knowledge of fatalities and difficulties in crossing. The appeal of elsewhere is greater than death. This realization is crucial for all nations to better comprehend the true elements belying migration, particularly for those that this report is concerned with. Of the 1,970 migrants from 39 African countries interviewed for the report, almost all of them are willing to face death for economic opportunities abroad than stay home. As most of the migrants had relatively comfortable lives at home, they are not migrating to flee death or persecution as with asylum seekers. This prompts great questions and led the report to look at the issue from four angles: home life in Africa, motivations for leaving, life in Europe, motivations for returning.

58 percent of those who left were employed or in school in their home country.

Not only that, in almost every demographic and country, those who left had a considerably higher amount of education than their peers. From Malu, those leaving had an average of five years of education, compared to one year with peers in their age group and two years for the national average. In Cameroon, those leaving had an average 12 years, their peers had seven and the national average of six. Even when broken down by gender, both men and women who leave have about nine years of education while the national average is five and three, respectively.

Though the average African family size is five, most of those who leave have an average family size of 10.

When asked, migrants said their main motivation to leave is to send money home. This information is important as it may impact the motivations for needing to leave. The report reasons that an increase in population may also be playing a role in the motivations to leave. It was also reported that those who go abroad and find work send an average 90 percent of their earnings to their families. Essentially, they are leaving existing jobs to live on 10 percent of their new wage, highlighting that working below minimum wage in Europe is more prosperous.

Though 70 percent of those in Europe said they wanted to stay permanently, those who were working were more likely to want to return to their home country.

Conversely, the majority of those who did want to stay in Europe were not earning anything, 64 percent of them, and 67 percent did not have a legal right to work. Over half of those who did want to return home had a legal right to work. Analysts reason that those who did want to stay would likely change their mind once they had an income. This correlation speaks to a significant relationship between work and migration permanence. It also underlines the claim that migration for this group is focused solely on economic results as opposed to social factors.


***

What was most striking about the event, however, was the strong feeling communicated in the space about exchanges between Africans regarding what needs to be done. The discussion did not only surround the facts and figures alone, but also the humanity behind understanding why people migrate. At one point, when addressing the crowd of various influential people on the continent and in the diaspora, Eziakonwa said "What are we missing here? What are we doing by leaving young Africans out of the development discussion? Our programs are clearly failing our African youth."

Later, Yahya responded to a question by stating there was certainly a cultural barrier in which Africans do not often address, listen to or respect the youth. "I can say by looking at you that no one in this room would be given a true say," he said. "This is clearly part of the issue." When asked what can be done by others, the response was to work to change the narrative, to focus on prosperity rather than charity and to provide better access and platforms for African youth to share their stories so that the idea of who migrants are shifts. And so we, as Africans, can better know ourselves.

Check out some photos from last night below with photos from Polly Irungu. Follow and share in the changing of that narrative via #ScalingFencesUNDP and #MyJourney.

Photo by Polly Irungu


Photo by Polly Irungu


Photo by Polly Irungu


Photo by Polly Irungu


Photo by Polly Irungu


Photo by Polly Irungu


Photo by Polly Irungu


Photo by Polly Irungu


Photo by Polly Irungu

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Anjel Boris, Question Mark, 2019, Acrylic and posca on canvas, 133 by 7cm. Image courtesy of Out Of Africa and @artxlagos

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