The title alone for UGS 4 Life’s Fxck Tha Lamestream compilation album all but puts a cap on the project’s expectations and limits. It’s not really a coincidence that a tape full of conservative rap shares a phrase made popular by former GOP Vice Presidential nominee Sarah Palin.
Illinois native Scott Bejda and Netherlands producer Detag have put together a compilation that refuses to acknowledge anything made after the 90s as authentic.
The first cut uses the song title “We Killin It” to delve very deeply into serial killer metaphors paired with a heavy metal guitar hook. On the ensuing track “Let’s Ride,” rhymes like “subliminal” and “criminal” are coupled together in the first verse, with “metaphysical” thrown in for good measure not too long after. There’s even a track called “Swaggotz,” (a portmanteau of “swag” + “faggotz” — a slur used freely on the project) which features a verse bemoaning rappers who wear skinny jeans and dresses. It’s like all of the things that made backpack rap the butt of every early 2000s joke were resurfaced.
Their preferred golden era is a focus on West Coast and Southern sounds from the 90s and not the typical New York-type boom bap regurgitation. That’s what made Murder Dog magazine so special. As a revered publication, it focused on regional artists beyond the East Coast and gave light to rappers all over the country before most commercial entities. Bejda was a writer for them for 15 years, but his compilation seems to misinterpret that ethos. Even Black Dog Bone, the magazine’s founder, wasn’t outright hostile towards commercial success, he was just focused on something else. In a 2014 interview with Noz, he said: “I have nothing against Source or Rap Pages or Rap Sheet. I’m not fucking competing with these magazines. I worshipped these magazines because they supported rap when Rolling Stone or Spin didn’t. Why would I want to compete with Source? I grew up with the fucking Source.”
For the rest of its duration, Fxck Tha Lamestream boasts of rappers with intentionally misspellings of popular names (Supah Smash Bros., X-It Only, Sleepwalkas, etc.), a healthy amount of faux DJ U-Neek “lyrical murderer” beats and a seemingly infinite onslaught of off-beat flows. (See the rigid tongue-twister “My Battlefield” or piercing “My Road Dogs” for examples that check off all the boxes.) No matter what generation, favorite subgenre or regional bias fans’ identify with, simply put, this is just bad Hip Hop. Hell, it’s bad music.
There’s nothing wrong with identifying as an outsider. In fact, going against the grain is what birthed Hip Hop in the first place. But Fxck Tha Lamestream doesn’t venture into new territory.
It simply travels backward.