The Road to "Today I Found Happy"
In the early months of 2008, Ugly Orwell began to lose it. This, in its striking resemblance to the plague that befell August a year earlier, was making for an alarming trend. Wisconsin was a thing of the past by now. August had moved to Harlem, Ugly to Tampa… both in pursuit of dreams that didn’t seem to matter. "Strange Passengers" seemed a million miles away, until a single moment provided the inspiration for a different type of project. August was drunk, bundled up nicely in the third row of a since-imploded Shea Stadium… and Ugly was nursing a nosebleed at an airport bar. Through the drizzle, August saw the text: “It’s over. I’m drunk at a fucking airport… I don’t know where I’m going.”
The answer, which came half a year (and half a dozen medications) later, was Brooklyn. The group that once referred to themselves simply as “Horton and August” had taken on a more accurate persona- donning the name "Bi-Polar Bear" in response to the events that preceded this second reunion. In the winter months leading into 2009, "Today I Found Happy" came from the depths of a darkness that neither artist ever wants to see again. The album’s intro, appropriately titled “Fuck Her”, is an ode to the harder days. If nothing else, the duo wanted their new effort to be indicative of a journey - and like most great stories of redemption, this one starts at the bottom. The second track, “Test Your Might”, sees long time associate Kalo return to the process, while Ugly and August revisit the form that inspired their beginnings so many years ago. On “Her for Him” (one of the album’s lead singles), Ugly pays his respects to the art of escape, while one of the more infectious choruses in recent memory provides ample space for reflection.
In keeping with the bi-polar motif, August uses “NPFJ” to tell an abbreviated version of his life (and its brush with completion) through the skewed lens of modern religion. The beat, which was made nearly five years before it heard a voice, recalls the producer’s comfort zone - with crooning guitars and a strangled vocal sample occupying the forefront. This down tempo step carries itself into the next track as well, as Ugly Orwell debuts an entirely new side to his production arsenal on “Good Moanin’”. Here, Orwell’s beat lulls us into a redemptive trance, as Ugly describes his reaction to a day worth waking for. The album’s title track follows, providing a half-way reminder of the project’s true essence.
While “Love Begins to Die” takes us into previously unexplored territories of production, “Night’s Like This” sees both emcees in top form. The beat, which August describes as his favorite addition to the album, is the product of a cold winter’s night in Madison, while the lyrics attempt to describe the moments in which the sadness just doesn’t seem to matter anymore. Serving as a split track, Ugly lends a hand in the second half of “Night’s…”, providing the perfect balance to segue into the album’s final two songs. “Party Girl”, a beat that surfaced around the time that "Strange Passengers" faded away, shows Ugly reconnecting with his lighter side. The drums, reminiscent of a marching band’s coke binge, are enough to get the laziest listener’s head nodding, while Ugly drops some of the smoothest lyrics known to his catalogue. As the album concludes with “Life”, we see the cycle complete itself. When Ugly urges us to “make up a song,” he reveals the beauty of this coping process in its truest form…"Today I Found Happy."