The typical course of an artist’s trajectory has them come into contact with the reality of what can be an urban legend if you allow it – the pressure of the second album.
As far as gate-keep rap egos are concerned, the first album is a fluke, beginners’ luck, the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for you to capitalize on being the new kid on the block, with your only duty at that point to solidify the hype around your brand and translate that into a solid fanbase.
Affectionately known as Priddy Ugly, Richardo Moloi did not follow the conventional route with said trajectory. His path was marred by being overlooked, sidelined, and forced to bend to the will of the mainstream in the name of sustaining a following. Spending the better half of the 2010s finding a definitive sound and securing his place in the hip-hop community, the road to where we are headed with the pending release of his second album, Soil, tells a story of frustration, health scares, the rise to lyrical prevalence, persistence and unrelenting faith in going against everything that told him to compromise.
Priddy’s latest single, and title-song of the album, encapsulates an existential journey of one returning to their true self. In the spiritual sense, he identifies with everything Western about him – how he has taken his identity as an African for granted, whilst grappling with an irking desire to express his true self by coming home. The days of his Westernized[Office1] compromise showcase a man at war with himself, releasing commercial singles that generated buzz, but steered away from who he truly is as an artist and person.
With the release of “Soil”, we find a man who has taken the time to discover and articulate a sense of being grounded, authentic and unapologetic about his return to self. He, like many modern Africans, has been tasked with maintaining a sense of all that is natural in the face of technological assimilation which has compartmentalized our human experience. This is a state where we have to either compromise or entirely forfeit our native being with or for an identity that is influenced by international norms, standards, and cultural stimuli.
The struggle to establish the balance of being a Global African, which inspired his independent record label Global African Sounds (who have entered a joint venture with Steyn Entertainment’s Stay Low), seems to be coming full circle the more he grows into himself. His comfort with playing around with elements of what makes him South African is difficult to ignore. The sprinkle of multiple languages in his mainly English lyrical flow, ad-libs that pay homage to Soweto in a way that only other township dwellers can identify – you have to be from ekasi to understand what the flare means.
“I know some Cali dudes that wanna come to Cape Town/ their ancestors are the Africans that they clown.”
The visuals for “SOIL” are a journey spread across different parts of South Africa, as Priddy is accompanied by his mother who makes a proud display of Sesotho regalia. The video paints the picture of a man in search of his roots, who accessed the beauty of the world through mainstream media and is grounding himself to the beauty of home, introducing the wonders of our 9 provinces to the world with intimate, cutting edge imagery sprinkled across 5-10 second increments.
Priddy Ugly divides his divine masculinity and divine femininity into four categories: Men from Cali who want to come home to Cape Town, men from NYC who want to go home to Johannesburg, Women from Atlanta wish to go home to Durban, and UK girls who want to come home to their friends in Soweto (with a mention to the UK gentlemen).
This extended metaphor shapes how Priddy Ugly reconciles and reprograms his psyche to valuing his art and his personhood in being African. Setting the tone of his album rollout with an external and internal moment of introspection has placed me in a position to hear the story he has crafted for us. Is he asking himself what it means to be a Global African? What it means to be an African in the 21st century? What can an African be in the face of the 4th industrial revolution? July 26 is the only date that has our answers tucked in its metronome.
For now, let us move on the faith of an intricate prologue and pre-order a Globally African story here.