Ricardo Moloi, better known to his fans as Priddy Ugly is no stranger to the hip hop music industry despite being part of the New Kid On the Block set just last year. Going against the grain with regards to the sound of his music has meant that the artist with Angolan heritage has had to find alternative methods of pushing his music, which hasn’t come easy. Couple that with being an independent artist, one is able to discern how talented Priddy Ugly is to manage to remain relevant till now. We had a chat with the triple threat entertainer about his music, relationship and his overall motivation.
QuenchSA: What inspired your stage name Priddy Ugly?
Priddy Ugly: Growing up in the East Rand we used to refer to things that were dope as Ugly. I felt like I was beyond that, an extension of Ugly. So based on my word play based raps, I played on the oxymoron of ‘Priddy Ugly’. This describes my rap style and flow, which is very unorthodox and eccentric. I also wanted to chose a name that would get people talking, encourage and spark conversation. I wanted a name that people would love and hate, and love to hate. It’s very important for people to not feel indifferent about you. They need to feel some type of way about you, good or bad, but if they have feelings towards you, you stay top of mind and you’re not easy to forget.
QuenchSA: At what point did you realize that music is what you wanted to do for a living?
Priddy Ugly: In 2006, is when I really fell in love with music and the idea of being a musician, but it was only in 2013 when I decided that I wanted to do it for a living. Music and hip hop became part of my existence. There was a always a song that spoke to how I felt in that given moment, there was always a song that changed a bad mood to a good one. When I realized through the people who’s lives I touched through my music that my music had an impact on their lives, that’s when I was certain that I wanted to do this for a living.
QuenchSA: You have also dabbled into acting, what comes more naturally, singing, dancing or acting?
Priddy Ugly: I’ve dabbled in acting, but never by my own doing. People always suggest that I should act and try it out, so I’ve tried it here and there. Acting doesn’t come as something very natural to me, though I can do it, I just don’t think I’m particularly great at it. I’m really great at playing myself and transitioning into different personalities within myself, and those are the characters that one gets to see in my visuals. I enjoy dancing and performing, that’s natural to me. I have a dance background, so I do a lot of that in my live sets. Singing is something I only recently tried out, you can hear me sing a note or two on my ‘You Don’t Know Me Yet’ LP. I was being very experimental on that project.
QuenchSA: Having maintained relevance for years within the culture, what is the secret to your longevity within the game?
Priddy Ugly: I’ve been in the game for a while. People say you can’t be the new kid on the block twice, but I give props to myself for being that guy all these years without losing interest or influence. I haven’t reached the pinnacle of commercial success, but being the guy whose maintained his presence in the conversation in the midst of the metamorphosis of the industry and all its trends and new emerging artists is something I can only attest to my self belief and the consistent rate in my growth and evolution. I’m driven by progress, the urge to elevate standards and the search for innovation. The people who believe in me keep me going, they fuel my drive and passion.
QuenchSA: Your mixtape was well received, is an album in the works?
Priddy Ugly: The term mixtape is a loose term. A mixtape, I believe is a compilation of music on unoriginal beats, with minimal sound engineering and little to no marketing budget, and as a result it’s given away for free. Based on that I wouldn’t call my project a mixtape. Every song is original and meticulous to detail. The project already has 3 very high quality music videos. The sound and quality in production is unmatched. The project is available on all online stores, Spotify, GooglePlay, Itunes, Deezer etc. There are physical copies available by order as well, so technically this quantifies and qualifies it as an album. Right now my focus is on ‘You Don’t Know Me Yet‘ and extending its reach on all platforms and mediums. I will however be releasing more singles.
QuenchSA: Your music has been well received beyond the borders of South Africa. Is that a premeditated strategy when making a record?
Priddy Ugly: Yes, I see myself as a global artist that has the potential to extend my reach far beyond South African and even African boarders. When working on the project I wanted to make a Grammy nomination worthy project. I feel like I achieved this.
QuenchSA: Having been signed by a record label before, how difficult is it to manoeuvre around the industry as an indie artist?
Priddy Ugly: It’s difficult. Getting your songs played and playlisted on radio and TV platforms is a mission, especially when you’re not particularly friends or acquainted with the influential personalities on these platforms. There’s a lot of back and forths. You fund everything yourself and the weight of your whole brand is on you and the team you may or may not have. With very limited resources you need to keep up with, and even surpass the standards that your contenders with bigger budgets and label backings have and there’s always financial implications involved where that’s concerned. You need to be well equipped with the skill of being able to stretch a budget and perform miracles with the minimal tools that you have. However, as an indie you’re free to move how you wish, drop the type of songs you want to drop when you want to drop them. You have full creative control of your work and when money finally comes your way, there’s no middle man taking a big chunk of your pie.
QuenchSA: Have you directly or indirectly noticed a difference since the South African Broadcasting Commission announced the 90% local music policy?
Priddy Ugly: I’ve noticed that we are hearing 30-40% more of the same artists. They are playing a lot more of the older local music. It’s a step in the right direction, but there are still systems and walls that we have to overcome and breakdown. Most of the radio compilers are older guys from an older generations, and they still have old school ways of doing things. We need fresher minds, or at the least more open minded people in those positions for artists like myself to benefit from this new policy.
QuenchSA: You voiced concern about radio stations not including your music in their playlist. Any reason why this is the case?
Priddy Ugly: I mentioned some of the reasons in the previous questions. My music is eclectic and very unconventional. It doesn’t follow the typical standard or spectrum of what commercially viable music is in this country. I do however believe that anything can be commercial with the right backing and numbers behind it. So far, I’ve had a career purely based on the Internet. I am yet to be embraced by most of the media platforms and major broadcasters. I guess that when you’re pursuing something new and different you will always face skepticism and adversity because it isn’t the norm or what people are used to, yet. It’s up to me to keep pushing until my sound and style is all-encompassing.
QuenchSA: You are involved with a public figure. How do you manage to keep a low profile despite both your positions in the entertainment industry?
Priddy Ugly: We don’t try to keep a low profile at all, we are just not the type of people who feel like we need to share everything that happens especially in our relationship on a public platform. You dont let strangers just come into your home and walk in and out of every room as they wish, so keep your relationship that way too, secured and private. Our relationship is sacred and between myself and my partner. We support each other, we understand each other and we are genuinely each other’s biggest fans. It also helps that we are in the same industry even though it’s in different fields, this allows us to always be in the same space and surroundings