Lil Lavedy - Hella Spiders 666 (Cover Artwork)
Staff Pick

Lil Lavedy

Hella Spiders 666 (2020)

Self Released

Lil Lavedy basically sounds like a combination of G.L.O.S.S.’s trans politics and sloppy aesthetic, Le Tigre’s lo-fi electronica, and that “Natalie’s Rap” song by Lonely Island from Saturday Night Live. Her debut full-length, Hella Spiders 666, is silly, ridiculous, over-the-top, uncomfortable, upsetting, and refuses to play nice, and I think it might just be one of the best things I’ve heard all year. Lil Lavedy sits at the rarely explored intersection between punk rock and hip-hop, as expressed in the chorus of one of her songs: “Punk rock taught me to kill cops, hip-hop taught me why.” But the real summary of the album’s tone comes in the final lines of the album’s title track: “I don’t care for your staunchy art; draw more dicks on shit.” It’s a messy album, certainly, with anarchistic rhyme schemes and glitchy beats that give way to a raunchy, kitschy, barely contained chaos.

The first track, entitled “Elvis Deserved to Die on the Shitter,” opens up pulling absolutely no punches, with the opening line being: “I wish Ronald Regan were alive today so I could kill him with my bare fucking hands.” I partly want to say that the point of this opening is just to provoke and shock, but I also don’t doubt for a second that Lil Lavedy, like many in the LGBTQIA community, really feels that kind of animosity towards Ronald Regan for his role in deepening the AIDS crisis in the 1980’s. The song is basically a takedown of traditional American imagery and historical figures in a song where the artist says she’s proud to be blasphemous. Then we get the title track, inspired by the vandalization of Ugo Rondinone’s $3 million art installation, Seven Magic Mountains, in 2016 with graffitied phrases like “Hella Spider,” “666,” and, yes, drawings of dicks. Lavedy turns this into a teachable moment about resisting bourgeois art, and also makes the vandals’ slogans, not just into her album title, but into a killer hook rapped over a buzzing punk guitar riff.

“Trans life is warfare” she proclaims on the song “Warfare,” where she highlights the radical nature of simply being a trans person and the inherent dangers in being transgender. “So What,” featuring Los Angeles noise-rap group Moodie Black, feels like an industrial electronic experiment, then the booming voice of one of the group’s vocalists, Kristen Martinez aka Kdeath, enters and lays down a perfect description of what gender dysphoria feels like. Closing track, “Black Out,” featuring punk band Nora Cursed, finds Lavedy struggling with her tenuous grasp on sobriety while the band plays a slow sort of screamo-country tune behind her.

The only thing I grapple with on this otherwise brilliant album is that, while I appreciate that chaos and messiness are part of the aesthetic, the album could have been even better if the lyrics were a little crisper and more precise. Sometimes Lavedy tries to fit more syllables into a line than she can fit into her mouth. And while she does do an amazing job of articulating trans and other leftist issues, some of the end rhymes on her lines don’t slide into place just right every time.

But that aside, Hella Spiders 666 is one hell of a wild ride through intersectional activism, extreme punk rock expressions of anger, and the lyrical equivalents of drawing dicks on a $3 million art installation. Lavedy is violent, abrasive, and absolutely wild because she basically has to be. There’s a running joke in the trans community that trans women are always radical leftists, and whether or not that’s true, all the music I hear from trans artists has this same radical edge to it. Maybe it comes from trans life being warfare, as Lavedy describes. Lil Lavedy has honed that edge to near perfection, creating a very uncomfortable, yet wildly funny and deeply cathartic album. May we all aspire to drawing dicks on shit.