Now that the release of I'm Uugly is a month in the rearview, Duckwrth is relieved. It's risky making music that doesn't sound like the formula that's on the radio, but to his surprise, I'm Uugly seems to be just what people need.
"I feel different. I feel more confident 'cause I just didn't know how ppl would respond to it, 'cause it's just a different sound than what's going on right now," the South Central LA–based rapper told REVOLT.
But before September 23, he was a bit panicky. In fact, the album's title itself is partly an acknowledgment that the conditions surrounding this body of work weren't ideal.
"I was trying to move the date because it just wasn't enough time to promote it and they was saying, 'It's already in the system, you can't do anything about it, it's dropping the 23rd,'" Duckwrth recalls. "So like I'm scrolling down on Twitter and I see this album was dropped the same day I dropped my album, but 13 years ago, and that album was Speakerboxxx/The Love Below by Outkast. ... It was just all these different signs, and I was just like, There is purpose."
If you've heard Duckwrth's music, you know why that seems less like coincidence and more like divine orchestration. Andre 3000 is the easy comparison for his sound, which he calls "funkwave," but there's also hints of Hendrix, Pharrell, and Freddie Mercury. And what to make of the fact that he says Gwen Stefani is his ideal collaborator?
Duckwrth hears in color, and explains that I'm Uugly starts along the spectrum of baby blue and pink, then segues into red and splashes of purple. And no matter the emotion being articulated, whether rage, or pain, or love — it stops short of getting too dark. It's color therapy gone aural, which makes sense, as Duckwrth sees himself as not rapper or artist, but designer, creatively using all the tools of expression at his disposal. Find out what that means below: