Ever since I was in high school, when A$AP Rocky first donned the cape for New York hip-hop, I've somehow found myself closely following the saga of Travis Miller. Let me explain. When A$AP Rocky first blew up, not only was it in part his pretty boy looks and always high-end fashion taste, but for his clear Southern homegrown influence that he wore on all of his verses. If you check the credits for his debut mixtape Live.Love.A$AP, you'll find that many of the songs were produced by SpaceGhostPurpp, once a hot Miami producer known for dark and gloomy beats, now notorious for beefing with anyone and everyone on Twitter, and recently claiming he was homeless.

But from the rabbit hole that is Miami hip-hop, which included SpaceGhostPurpp's former rap collective RVIDER KLVN, featuring the likes of Yung Simmie and future XXL Freshman Denzel Curry, I found out about another artist far and away from Miami-Dade County, a one-man act who was like an island unto himself. The place was Richmond, Virginia, and that island was Travis Miller, or as I knew him when I first heard him, Lil Ugly Mane.



The connection was tenuous: he designed some of their mixtape covers, and there were some collabs here and there. But it was always clear that Ugly Mane was his own entity, he didn't sound like A$AP Rocky, he didn't sound like anyone in Raider Klan. Always rapping over his own production, every bar and distant drum or noise sample seemed deliberate. For most people familiar with his work, they were first introduced by way of his debut studio album Mista Thug Isolation, an 18 track journey into a horrorscape unseen since Three Six Mafia went by Triple Six Mafia and rapped about their mystic styles.

But MTI came out back in 2012, and Miller the musician has only been moving further and further away from the explicitly gory and grotesque bars of songs like "Maniac Drug Dealer III," now choosing to surprise us with something even more unsettling, his personal turmoil.



Donning the moniker bedwetter for his new project, volume 1: flick your tongue against your teeth and describe the present., Miller takes a slight step back from the mic, only spitting on a handful of tracks, but nevertheless presenting us with an eclectic range of sounds like the ones that initially turned me into a fan back in high school. Even though he'll have short verses on some songs, every verse comes at you steeped in his trademark pessimism, but now featuring glimpses of honest doubt and self-reflection, almost teetering on the verge of confession through rhyme.



The first time you hear him rap is on the second track "man wearing a helmet," when he immediately charges into a first person narrative of a child being kidnapped, thrown into a trunk by his captors and wishing to go back home. You can't tell how much, if any of it, is autobiographical, but I'll say this. The feeling of dread and terror described in that opening verse may be a perfect verse on Miller's part. In the same way that the boy feels completely ripped away and tossed into an unknown world, any listener of Miller will feel when encountering his music for the first time. It's an excellent introduction, to another wild and thrilling project by the man who was, and continues to be, an island.

Check out his latest project now on Bandcamp