During a recent interview with DJ Akademiks, rapper Ugly God revealed that he spent less than $10k to craft his newly-released project, The Booty Tape, which moved only 12k first week SPS (sales plus streaming) units.
While it would be easy to point a finger at Ugly God, chuckle, and make some joke about how The Booty Tapesounds like a body of work that cost less than $10k to write, produce, record, mix, master and promote, according to the Mississippi native, he's already recouped all of his initial expenses.
How could a project featuring a guest spot from Wiz Khalifa, who appears on the track "No Lies," not cost more than Ugly God's entire project budget? Simple: the feature was secured free of charge. As for beats on the 10-track project, since Ugly God produced the entire Booty Tape by himself, a production budget wasn't required.
As for the album's release, despite claims on Snapchat that he's an "independent artist"—whatever the hell that means in 2017—Ugly God is currently signed to Asylum Records, which is owned by Warner Music Group and distributed by Atlantic Records.
Even with stream equivalent albums factored into the equation, first-week sales don't mean as much as they once did, and since the project was labeled as a "commercial mixtape" and not as his debut album, Ugly God was able to somewhat safeguard against the perception that the release was a complete and utter failure—especially, coming on the heels of being named as a XXL Freshman earlier this year.
That said, while UG's minimal budget means he won't be sitting in the red, the numbers don't lie. After delaying the release of The Booty Tape for several months, the final product was a miss.
Had Ugly God doubled or tripled his budget, brought in some outside producers and paid-for feature guests, and popped for a better engineer, it's possible the project would have done marginally better. Or maybe not.
In business, the general rule is that a company has to spend money to make money. However, in the case of Ugly God, and in rap music in general, this doesn't necessarily apply. All the expensive window dressing in the world often can't cover up the most important thing: skill.