TW: mentions of su*cide and s*lf h*rm.
Lil Ugly Mane, or Travis Miller, is an American experimental hip-hop artist who first appeared online in 2010, and has since been making music (along with other art) under many names, in many styles. These names have a great deal of range, as Miller does as a musician, including: Shawn Kemp, Vudmurk, bedwetter, Cat Torso, Dale Kruegler, Fat Greg da Bread Man, Loadmaster DJ SK the Subterranean Suspect and, most bizarrely, Two Timin’ Dean The Cat F*cker. Since his initial appearance in 2010, and the development of his cult following after the online release of his first album, Mista Thug Isolation in 2012, Miller has used his numerous aliases to build his own world.
Mostly, Miller sticks to using his two main aliases of Lil Ugly Mane and Shawn Kemp; Ugly Mane is the character rapping on his projects, and Kemp is usually credited as the producer. But when he does step outside of these he always brings something new forward, such as the bizarre edition of a magazine called Clowns and Browns, written by Lyle Ugleman (you guessed it, another Ugly Mane alias!). So, in building this entire alternate world, Miller’s music becomes all the more fascinating as he reveals different interests and characters over time across the world of art, providing small pieces to an overarching puzzle that can’t be fully solved due to Miller’s mysterious persona as a whole.
The most directly impactful use of one of Miller’s aliases is his use of bedwetter, following the ‘death’ of Lil Ugly Mane in the album Oblivion Access. To date, only one album has been released under the bedwetter name, titled Volume 1: Flick your Tongue Against Your Teeth and Describe the Present, a truly grim and depressing experimental hip-hop record which seems to delve deeper into Miller’s real life experiences,. Miller explained in a Facebook post that he had been seeking help for his own mental health during the making of the album and found his experiences terrible, saying that he had tried to get help for suicidal thoughts and had only been checked briefly before they let him go. He claimed that the American health system ‘incentivises violence and self harm’ as a way to actually be cared for.
Taking the leap from the bleakly comic Mista Thug Isolation and the furious Oblivion Access under the Ugly Mane alias to the far more bleak and vulnerable bedwetter record, Miller truly solidified himself as one of the boldest underground artists in contemporary hip-hop. His use of aliases not only adds to the mystery surrounding Miller and his various personas, but also allows him to delve far deeper into his ideas that would otherwise be limited by the characters he uses – one person can only express so much, but a group of ‘people’ can do almost anything.
Lil Ugly Mane self-distributes all of his music. Listen to the previously mentioned album, Volume 1: Flick Your Tongue Against Your Teeth and Describe the Present, on YouTube below. It was recently released on vinyl with bonus tracks by Fashionable Death.