Oakland Rapper Who Embraces Both The "N" Word and the "U" Word Is As Much An Entrepeneur As An Artist

Posted by Billyjam, September 8, 2011 05:00pm | Post a Comment

"Ugly Nigga T's (Slap Version)"
If you thought the late great Ol Dirty Bastard of Wu Tang Clan fame's name grabbed peoples' attention the moment they first heard it, watch the reaction that East Oakland rapper/promoter Ugly Nigga, who headlines for the second week in a row the Best in the Bay Talent Showcase tonight at the Black Rep in Berkeley,  gets out of people when they first see/hear his name.  "Yeah some people are shocked and accuse me of being racist," said the African American Oakland born rap entrepreneur who heartily embraces both the "N" and the "U" words and has parlayed that love into a source of income which comes mainly from T-shirt sales.  "But I get mostly positive feedback from the Ugly Nigga t-shirts," he told me recently, recalling as the best example, "There was a guy who told me it took him two months to wear the shirt after he bought if from me. He said he wanted to save it for a special occasion. So he wore it at this party and people started coming up to him and saying - Man you're not ugly. And he told me how he had a lot of personal demons and had problems with talking to people and how this changed it. He told me how his stepfather had blamed him for his mother's death and he had kept that bottled in but that night he told me, Man I just kept on talking and the shirt kept drawing attention. He said, Thank-you for making that shirt!"

Back in 2005 was when the Oakland artist began using the U and N tag for his name and, after a couple of years into his rap career when he began making T-shirts with his name on them, soon realized that Ts were more profitable than rap music. "I figured that T-shirts the only type of advertising that paid back," he said noting that he soonafter set up a silk screening company "So I could mass produce it.  And then once I got the Bay Area covered, pretty much, then I moved into promoting parties with my Ugly Nigga banner in tow. And from the shows I went back to making music," he said summarizing his business model as simply "flyers, t-shirts, and shows." The flyers, which you will see all over the East Bay, he gets for dirt cheap he told me as a kind of trade out/advertising deal.  "I got a flyer account with Copy World in Berkeley so I could advertise heavily," he explained of his ongoing "partnership" with the copy company (one side of each flyer carries an ad for Copy World). In another street marketing attack he told me how he regularly hoists up a big banner, emblazoned  with his name & his website address, up on freeway overpasses like the one on 880 at 98th Street.
So how did he originally settle upon the unusual rap name? "Well I used to recite the Notorious B.I.G. line [from "One More Chance"], "Black and ugly as ever However, I stay Coogi down to the socks," and I thought it was real funny and I was like, That's real intereesting that a rapper would call themselves "black and ugly," he said explaining part of his inspiration, noting that like the N word the U word also has different connotations. "In the Bay we say, 'It's ugly out here. There are two sides to the name Ugly Nigga: a political side and a lifestyle side. One is obviously political because of the word nigger or nigga, and then another negative or supposed negative I put another negative to it - ugly - and said 'Ugly Nigga'

The artist's bread and butter is his T-shirt line; one that also includes - for the ladies - Pretty Bitch and Ugly Bitch shirts. He says all races and all ages buy the shirts at $20 a pop. He sells the T's at shows but also on his website which links from his Facebook.  "From a vanity standpoint dudes that are not ugly, they like wearing the shirt coz women come up to them at parties. Then you got dudes who surprisingly say, 'Hey I really am ugly. I need that shirt,'" he said with a laugh. His T-shirt/promotion company is called Ugly Nigga Live Media and Events and he plans on next branching out into print. "Ugly Nigga is also going to be a comic book," he promised. At tonight's Bay Talent showcase he will be doing a set and also selling shirts. The Black Rep Theater is located at 3201 Adeline Street in Berkeley. 7pm doors. $10 admission. All ages show. More show info  More artist/t-shirt info.

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Black Rep Theater (1), Ugly Nigga (1), Bay Area Rap (13), Notorious B.i.g. (7)