“[W]hen you get in front of a hip-hop crowd and you’ve got bars, that’s all they care about,” Alice Villa, aka Lil Lavedy, told the Las Vegas Review-Journal about her emergence into the local hip hop scene in Nevada back in 2016. Her punk rock attitude serves as both shield and lance in her storming of the barricades of bravado that enshrine the stage in masculine chutzpah.
Her ascension to the stage is worth taking note of, not only because of her femininity, which is not even her only, or most, defining characteristic as an MC, but because it proves a point about her as an artist and a person, and the spaces that punk and hip hop can open up for anyone with enough drive and passion.
The Promethean fire that tumbles and spirals in the soul of hip hop can be grasped and bent to the will of anyone who has the grit to lay hands on the mic. Punk rock is a form of music that embraces, more than most, the incongruity of one’s personhood with the expectations of society at large.
Lil Lavedy ergo homesteads at the crossroads of paths that cut through punk and hop hip, an intersection that houses a scolding furnace of passion whose heat causes fresh fruit to perpetually germinate. Whether you only have a copy of some pirated beat software and a Logitech headset with a built-in mic, or a guitar that you plug into a karaoke amp, as long as you have that fire in you, you can bring your ideas to life.
Hella Spiders 666 is the first, full-length taste of Lil’s hot takes on the degraded provinciality of her adopted home of Albuquerque, but it’s sticky, venomous spitballs are rightfully aimed in every direction at once. The problems that make existence more painful than it ought to be are the same problems that cut and rend peoples’ dignity all over: over-policing and racism (“Punk Rock Taught Me To Kill Cops”), immiseration and living without substantive human connections (“About Vegas”), and chemical addiction and crippling anxiety (“Black Out”).
Through these depictions of sorrow and pain rises a cutting beacon of defiance in the form of Lil’s bayoneting bars. Jabs at her identity are deflected by declaring herself a cryptid, a beast that definitionally defies categorization or explanation. “Elvis Deserved To Die On The Shitter” begins with a proclamation of homicidal intent against one of the nation’s historical vanguards in the prosecution of queerness, Ronald Reagan, before continuing with the line “I don’t believe in god / I’m above the law / I break bread with leapers / but I don’t talk to cops.”
And “Warfare” begins with a single bar that explains Lil’s intent to live as herself, knowing that to do so is a declaration of war against polite, productive society (“Trans life is warfare so this lipstick is an insurrection”).
Lil’s machine-gun style flow peppers the listener with prose, perforating you like the needle of a sewing machine, leaving you sown up while you’re getting shown up. Her bars are not just the backbone of these tracks, but the flesh and sinews as well. Hella Spiders 666 is self-consciously an exhibition of her flow and lyricism, but that doesn’t mean that the beats, as minimalistic as they are, are unworthy of examination.
“Elvis Deserved To Die” has a mean and dry, dirty trap beat that backs up Lil’s long list of deserved “fuck you”s; “Hella Spiders 666” is anchored by a classic, Rubin-esque, hair-metal riff that could have been pulled from any number of early Beastie b-sides; “So What” burrows into your ear canal with a relentless drill sample enveloped in a shroud of darkwave vapor and the perversely redolent miasma of industrial art-rappers Subtle, while “About Vegas” feels like it could have been produced by Aesop Rock with it’s alienated, bright but ominous keys, exhalant synth grooves, and molar smoothing air of anxiety.
A perpetual wheel of defiance, Hella Spiders 666 knowns no masters and muzzles all calls for restraint.
You can stream the the entirety of Hella Spiders 666 below via Bandcamp: