On Doing an Evil Deed Blues
April 13, 2014 3:38 PM   Subscribe

Lil Ugly Mane. What do we know about this person? Take a trip on through to the other side...

Lil Ugly Mane, aka Shawn Kemp, aka Travis Miller is a hip-hop and rap producer from Richmond, Virginia. Although primarily known as such, there is much more to be found out about this strange and enigmatic human being.

One of the earliest mentions of a "Travis Miller" is a Richmond Style Weekly article from December 03, 2008. Titled "Out of the Basement", it is about the Church of Crystal Light, an art gallery/music venue that opened up on September 05, 2008 on 309 N. Adams St., Richmond, VA with a one year lease.

Fast forward to April 03, 2009. There are nine videos that supposedly show Travis Miller aka Lil Ugly Mane playing with a harsh noise band called "Head Molt" at a show in which they opened for Girl Talk. Link. Review of that show, in which we find out that bottles were thrown at the band. The big mystery is how Travis Miller is associated with them, one which I can solve right here. A July 09, 2009 blog post with the core members of Head Molt notes that they moved to Richmond, VA into the Church of Crystal Light, the art gallery that Lil Ugly Mane & co. renovated and opened. While Travis Miller may not be an official member, he is listed as vocalist/effects pedals on this blog post.

As far as I know the next time we see Travis Miller pop up is on the premier release of his most regarded and prolific artistic endeavor. "DEY ABOUT 2 FIND YO BODY (DA BIRTH OF A MURDERAH) DEMO" was released on March 15, 2010 under the alias "Lil Ugly Mane" with three songs. Produced by YUNG GUS, the release showcases a lo-fi, cryptic style reminiscent of Three 6 Mafia and other southern rap/horrorcore artists. This release would set the standard for his future releases with the line "Lil Ugly Mane sleep with these demons that I worship / takin' pisses on crosses / settin' fire to churches", one in which Travis Miller consistently regales himself as a psychopathic maniac and a demon worshipper.

The next release, PLAYAZ CIRCLE:PRE MEDITATION(THE FIRST PROPHECY)PREVIEW MIXTAPE (REAL MURDER POSSE UNDERGROUND VERSION), on February 01, 2011 is one of the first to publicly showoff his own production skills under a different alias, Shawn Kemp. However, beats produced by Shawn Kemp have been around since at least October 28, 2010, when the album "softwehr" was released. The Lil Ugly Mane/Shawn Kemp mythos is even deeper than that. While Lil Ugly Mane/Shawn Kemp was producing beats for himself, he has also produced beats for many other rappers:

DJ Dogdick - Lights Down Low
Ethel Wulf - Don't Fuck Around (credited as Lil Ugly Mane)
Antwon - Underwater Tank
Denzel Curry - Twistin'
Supa Sortahuman - SUPASONIC in which he produced all the songs on this album and was featured on two of them: Blazin Up and Me and You.
Antwon - Rain Song (this is the most recent verse and beat Lil Ugly Mane has done, more on that later)

(Amongst those songs he has also appeared on Denzel Curry's "Nostalgic 64" album on the song Mystical Virus Part 3 ft. Mike G alongside himself, although he did not do the beat for this song.)

After releasing PLAYAZ CIRCLE he went on to release U AINT FROM MY HOOD (March 27, 2011), BUST A SAG DA SINGLE (April 19, 2011), and CRIMINAL HYPNOSIS, an album of unreleased songs and beats that precipitated what is now considered to be his masterpiece, MISTA THUG ISOLATION.

This album created tidal waves in the rap community, to the point where even Tyler, The Creator was enthralled by the mysterious Lil Ugly Mane. The entire album is produced exclusively by himself and primarily features him on all of the songs. The evolution of his horrorcore rhymes and sinister, dark, cryptic rap beats reached their pinnacle here. An album filled with guts, sex, murder, drug dealing, car riding, and many other psychopathic images, it is also one which expounds on his depression:

"Bitch I'm lugubrious, my trap game is stupidest /
You acting like I'm new to this /
I been sick since the uterus

"I'm blowing trees to stop these devils from oppressing my mental /
Ugly Mane stay gatted up, armed to the dental /
Luccini falling from the clouds and the rain is torrential /
Hit the block fresh cut with the lines on the temple
from "Breezem Out"

Once again, the album is filled with references to demons and demonic imagery, including references to his older songs and references to television shows (this particular one references Twin Peaks):

"Player I'm the coldest, matter fact the boldest
I be in the future while you rappers on that old shit
Every time I spit these motherfuckers want a quotient
But I don't write lyrics I write books full of potions
Put you underneath the Earth's surface
Thought I told you bitches that I sleep with these demons that I worship
Cause shit's deeper than the blood I'm submerged in
Black checkered floor with the red velvet curtain
from "Cup Fulla Beetlejuice"

From the outset of this album Lil Ugly Mane would go on to play a few shows. One of the most well-known is at the Sutro Baths Cave, in San Francisco on August 08, 2012. This performance gave us one of the only known freestyles he has done. Link. He played other songs from MISTA THUG ISOLATION including the banger LEAN GOT ME FUCKED UP. He also played a set (begins at 9:45) at Twerk or Treat 2012, in which Antwon and Left Brain of Odd Future were in attendance. One of his most recent shows was at Chaos in Tejas just last year, in which he performed his full EP UNEVEN COMPROMISE.

UNEVEN COMPROMISE was one of the first releases of new material (other than being featured on other artist's songs and the SUPASONIC album) Lil Ugly Mane had done since MISTA THUG ISOLATION had dropped. While UNEVEN COMPROMISE features the same style that we are use to, Lil Ugly Mane seemed to have developed a slightly different course in some of his lyrics. The first part of the 10 minute song features his traditional cryptic and depressive imagery:

"Same wolf from that folklore
Drinking blood right out of that that goat horn
I'm post-mortem, these boys want war I transport 'em
Right to Hell, in a trance when I write the spell
Leave the blood on my hands cuz I like the the smell
In the death business, you the clientele
Motherfukcers can't win cuz I'm trying to fail
Flesh is the fabric that covers my robes
Blood is the matter that built up my throne
Nothing but shadows, I'm waiting alone
Deep in my coffin, I call it my home
Cowering and broken, I'm a victim of my evil deeds
But I don't need your sympathy
I'm comfortable in misery

But as he moves forward he begins to open up to a more positive side of himself in regards to a friend who was a heroin addict:

"He exhaled smoke and threw his hat in the street
Said, "playa I don't understand what happened to me
Remember how I used to live extravagantly
White Jays, scuffed 3s, with immaculate steez
Stacked Gs, cop keys like they was practically free
Now I'm scrambling these streets with this raggedy tee"
I was puzzled by his feelings of inadequacy
Then I saw the track mark when he pulled back on his sleeve
Yea, my homie got a habbit it seems
Sad, cuz I kinda wanna dap him and leave
But I been down the some road so I put it on front street
Then he stepped back like he wanted to punch me
Told him, sit down, it's been a minute since we hung out
Apologized for bringing out the fact that he was strung out
Caught me off guard, and I know that lifes hard
But I really hate to see the homie in the graveyard
Cuz all I wanna do is see my people live large
I always try to see my people better than they are

Even to the point about opening up about his own heroin addiction:

"He told me he would he would clean up, said it was a promise
Looked me in my eyes to imply that he was honest
But I know that I would lie too, back when I was on it

After this release Lil Ugly Mane's hard drive died and an EP he was working on with Nickelus F was lost. After this terrible circumstance he began looking around for other sources of music that he thought was gone, and unearthed an unreleased Shawn Kemp EP full of beats. Soon after that he also released THREE SIDED TAPE VOL. 1 and THREE SIDED TAPE VOL. 2.

On July 02, 2013 Lil Ugly Mane posted this status to his Facebook page:

ok ok. respect your creativity. relax tho. just recorded a verse for denzel curry's new shit. as far as other shit goes; expect some production work with nickelus f and antwon, and a few various verses and beats with various homies. im not taking on new projects. im working on a FINAL mixtape. thats the deal. im done with shows, im done with hype. i just dont care at all about it. i made music in my room and shit was cool by accident. i appreciate all the kind words, i appreciate the negative. ugly mane is on life support. when the plug gets pulled...let him rest in piece. listen to mcs that want it. give them shine. they deserve it. also listen to john fahey and just relax with some smoke and some drink.

Along with this description on his bandcamp:


The final actual release from Lil Ugly Mane himself, PRELUDE TO PANOPTICON: "ON DOING AN EVIL DEED BLUES", was released on August 30, 2013. The song deals with his reluctance of continuing to rap and about the issues in hip-hop today:

"I used to like to rhyme when there was never any pressure
When your own bars was stone cold, beat you on the stretcher
It wasn't business it was pleasure
I heard God through a boombox lampin' on my dresser
Hip-Hop, the most progressive music in the bunch
Written tracks from '05 on a flashback lunch
'Cus we move ahead every 30 seconds
So hows it been 40 years and all we fucking rap about is weapons?

He had written a song and lyrics about this once before, on the THREE SIDED TAPE VOL. 1, SIDE TWO, SONG 4 titled "___________ " he raps:

"All these critics try to tell me my music is a shitty gimmick
Shit, I'm just spitting for the fucking spitting
I ain't worried about some idiots that caught up in the analytics
Never liked the limelight, never was compatible
Only press you getting outta Ugly is the lateral
People too concerned with strictly adding up their capital
But dollars are collapsible, so y'all ain't even rational
But just to keep my motives in the open, never wanted no exposure
Never needed to be noticed, never bothered with promotion, kept the photo out of focus
The mental state was humble though the rhymes was brag-a-docious
Wandered with my hoody up down narcissistic avenues
Vastly captivated turned rapping into stacking loot
But why pursue that gratitude if nothing is a absolute
The aptitude is too acute to navigate my attributes

While Lil Ugly Mane had fun rapping, which puts the lyrics of his earlier discography (especially MISTA THUG ISOLATION) in context, he feels pressure from the world and would like to disappear. The last official verse and beat he produced was for Antwon, Rain Song. His last two lines denote a troubled soul:

"He built up a wall to have somewhere to hide
But anxiety’s coming from somewhere inside

The Lil Ugly Mane boxset preorders are being figured out next week through the label Ormolycka, which put out cassettes of his. What is to be expected of this boxset? Only time will tell.

RIP Lil Ugly Mane
posted by gucci mane (9 comments total) 19 users marked this as a favorite
My brother is a huge fan, and has interacted with him a bit. He pointed him out to me once while we were in downtown richmond: the disparity between the way you'd imagine he looks from his pitched-down vocals and the way he actually looks is hilarious.

Very talented, in an unusual way.
posted by phrontist at 3:44 PM on April 13, 2014 [1 favorite]

For my money, his best track is: BREEZEM OUT
posted by phrontist at 3:45 PM on April 13, 2014 [1 favorite]

Great post, interesting stuff.
posted by stinkfoot at 4:03 PM on April 13, 2014

Oh poop, I forgot to add that he also has a black metal EP recorded (he released a song from it on THREE SIDED TAPE VOL. 1) under the alias "vudmurk" which you can find here. And also he did a live set under the alias "Sex of Distance" of which there is a video of here.
posted by gucci mane at 4:07 PM on April 13, 2014 [3 favorites]

ugly mane is one of my absolute favorites and it's so disappointing that there'll never be another mista thug isolation
posted by p3on at 6:31 PM on April 13, 2014 [2 favorites]

Aw man I never hear about anything cool until it's over, what I get for getting old I guess.
But dang, I really dig that "On Doing an Evil Deed Blues." I liked it a lot even before I heard the Carter Family sample, but that's definitely pretty badass.

Words I learned today- trill, and guap. Nifty!
posted by hap_hazard at 7:28 PM on April 13, 2014

posted by Potomac Avenue at 9:30 PM on April 13, 2014 [1 favorite]

posted by Potomac Avenue at 9:30 PM on April 13, 2014

narcissistic avenues

Request that my name be changed to this permanently.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 9:39 PM on April 13, 2014

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