Image from liluglymane.bandcamp.com
Much of the music out there today could be described as ‘angry’ or ‘reactive.’ In our social and political climate, there are heaps of musicians expelling their frustrations of the world into the microphone. Popular forms of relinquishing music usually come in the expression of teenage angst. Although many musicians out there truly know how to resonate with the youthful rage, much of the music today appears to be sappy, bombastic, and a little pretentious at times.
And like a lot of good art out there right now, sometimes very good representations come under the radar. Either the musician hasn’t yet made it to his or her scene, or the artist with some recognition chose not to market their project so fervently. This seems to be the case for Richmond musician, Travis Miller.
Miller first hurdled through the music scene as a Black Metal musician but did not receive internet fame until he came around his rap alias, Lil Ugly Mane. After his magnum opus album, Mista Thug Isolation garnered subtle acclaim in 2012, Miller’s name has been passed around during the years, allowing him to gain status as a legit musician.
Mista Thug Isolation was a narrative filled with horrorcore bangers and relentless debauchery. It was mostly entertainment. By the start of 2017, Miller returned after two years with another alias, Bedwetter. With this project being the only project under this alias so far, it does seem to be enough to dictate the alias’s purpose.
This project is far from a pleasure. This project dwells into the lairs of anxiety, depression, and pure terror. The background sounds and noises haunt behind the curtains of the despondent lyricism. Miller is as blunt as he is. With poetic verses to paint his portraits, adding the hazy textural beats in the background make for a realistic and sickening listen.
The project itself is nine tracks long, each of them just as despairing as the other. Miller has a certain way of portraying his stories through these tracks. Each track consists of a rant rather than a rap. These rants that the character evocates don’t necessarily describe how he is tortured. Most of the time, there is no external obstacle or life scenarios that push the character to the edge of insanity. Besides the song man wearing a helmet, the songs are cryptic but poetically descriptive.
The description may be the most uncomfortable aspect of the whole project. The blunt force of the macabre characteristics and emotions being told are only accentuated by the sinister production but are still strong nonetheless. In the first full track, man wearing a helmet, a short story is being told. In this story, it seems to be a child kidnapping taking place, by which Miller doesn’t exactly state directly. Instead, he’ll use his skill of descriptive imagery to evoke what’s going on.
Brake light, light night, choking on his tear snot,
“Fear not” summarize the voice within the earshot,
Muffled through the seats, stale smoke
He can hear Scott-Heron sing “Home Is Where the Hatred Is”
Home is where they took him from and he don’t know who’s taken him.
From this portion of the song, Miller doesn’t need to bluntly explain what the scenario is. He’s bluntly describing the horror that’s going around the character’s vision. As the alias of Lil Ugly Mane, he’s perfected his style of descriptive storytelling. Although with this project, the solemness is amplified and the emotions are more decrepit.
This is a very uneasy listen, but worth the journey. After comprehending the emotions of these tracks, some sense of clarity can be reached. People who don’t understand the depth of depression or anxiety can reach some level of that feeling just by listening to the album once through.
This type of music transcends the limits of entertainment, and become more in tune with a form of art. These tracks aren’t crying for help, but calling for an ear to listen. What also equates this project to the likes of true art is how polar is it from the commercial appeal. This album is not for everyone, and should never be.
Albums like these don’t come very often and don’t garner a lot of attention. This is not a treat for those who stumble upon it, but a chosen calling for them. Anyone who felt the emotions felt here will resonate well with the album, as those who haven’t will at least get a sense of what poetry could truly do to a person.