Hip-hop is now a half-century old, and many of the greatest possible MC names, personas, and song titles have already been claimed. It’s a crowded game, and attracting attention amongst the digital rap herd requires an over-the-top approach.
From slightly absurd to simply unbelievable, we’ve profiled three of the most distinctive rappers in hip-hop — two of whom are completely fictional. Give it a gander (don’t Google for clues!), take a guess, then check the reverse reveal at the end to see if you’ve kept it real!
LIL UGLY MANE
When not engrossed in black metal and free-jazz side projects, rapper Lil Ugly Mane openly heroizes the Unabomber and plays live shows with a massive animatron dog named Thermos Grenadine acting as his DJ and hype-man. It’s a curious formula, and his albums are equally random. Mane’s Breakout LP Mista Thug Isolation is semi-satirical Southern syrup-wave (forced accent, crawl-speed vocals and all), while 2021’s Volcanic Bird Enemy and the Voiced Concern sees Ugly doing Air-doing-My Bloody Valentine, with plenty of disaffected rhyming.
Recently, Mane has turned to releasing gloomy day acoustic folk with near-unintelligible singing—a chasm’s distance away from his previous in-your-face gangsta hits “Graveyard Ho” and “Mask on My Fucking Face”, while very similar in vibes to the sad-boy rap Mane released in the 2010s under the name Bedwetter. Vocal fans of Mane’s abstract offerings include most all of Tyler the Creator’s Odd Future gang, Anthony Fantano of the music nerd-favorite Needle Drop podcast, the founders of streetwear company Mishka NYC, and of course, Pitchfork.
SHOTTY PIPPEN AND GLOCKTOR J (AKA TOOLIUS ERVING)
The logo for Shotty and Toolius’ label, In the Paint, is Jerry West’s worst nightmare, a perversion of the NBA logo with the player holding an AK-47 in place of a ball, and smoking a drooping blunt half the size of his arm. Both former Compton high-school basketball phenoms, Shotty and Glocktor ignored scholarship offers to pursue rap full-time, and rose to infamy in 2020 with two heartfelt tributes to Russian Kalashnikov rifles, “K’s in Yo Grill” — the title chanted for 4 minutes, some “buck/buck/blaow” to shake things up — and “Putin Cold Killin”—simply “Putin, Putin! Shootin’! Shootin’!”
Some songs do feature full sentences, like “Gimmie That,” Shotty’s tale of driving his drunk uncle’s Benz to a 5th grade pickup basketball game, or “Above the Rim,” wherein Toolius brags of winning an All-Star MVP award after smoking PCP at halftime. But the game’s just getting started — already in 2023 the duo have ghostwritten for Lil Yachty, Lil Pump, and Cardi B. Shotty was also granted an honorary NRA position by Charlton Heston’s granddaughter Charlotte, and Glocktor is rumored to be working with Urban Outfitters to produce affordable high-style bulletproof vests.
“Putin, Putin! Shootin’! Shootin’!” rap Pippen and Glocktor J. (Credit: Alexey Nikolsky/SPUTNIK/AFP via Getty Images)
Projecting goth-trap Foxy Brown vibes in low-rise ’90s jorts under an ongoing rotation of dark fur capes, Countess Gwapula is the MC known to government as Ms. Beverlee Wavey. In 2019, while peddling odd contacts and vampire-fang gold fronts through her goth-coven’s Facebook page, the aspiring rapper sold a pair of cats’ eyes to Drake — who gained Gwapula a half-million followers by retweeting her site. Gwapula acted quickly, posting her self-recorded GarageBand EP “Wicked Wiccan”, and attracting the attention of legendary hip-hop producers Pete Rock and Large Professor, who joined forces to produce “You Been Bitten,” Gwapula’s major-label debut single.
In 2022, the Countess’ TikTok blew up internationally when her “Quit Day Touchdown Dance” went viral. Cut from security camera footage of her final day as a secretary at an insurance firm, the video features Gwap twerking on her boss’s desk, crumpling and throwing dollars in his face (as the office chants “Get it!”), before smashing a Texas Instruments graphing calculator and walking out, middle fingers raised. Gwapula’s 3rd album Out Tha Casket, due this October, includes guests Corey Taylor of Slipknot on “Undead Rise,” Styles P of the Lox, and Korn bassist Fieldy on “Shatter the Pieces.”
Foxy Brown is an inspiration, but there’s a new meanest chick in town: TikTok’s ‘tude-loaded vampiress, Countess Gwapula. (Credit: LMPC via Getty Images)
REVERSE REVEAL: liL ylgU enaM si eht laer lead
See you next week for Round Three of KEEPING IT REAL!
And live the joy all over again that was Round One!