Ultramagnetic MC’s – Critical Beatdown

ultramagnetic-mcs-critical-beatdown-back-n-the-day-buffetThe Ultramagnetic MC’s released their debut album “Critical Beatdown” on October 4, 1988.  The album was produced by Ced-Gee, Paul C, and the Ultramagnetic MC’s.  The album is considered one of the most influential albums in Hip Hop history, and not just for its lyrical content, but also for it’s production and sampling.

I remember when I first heard “Ego Trippin“, the sound of Kool Keith’s voice and the “Synthetic Substitution” sample was something I could not get out of my head!  I kept repeating “MC Ultra…MC Ultra“! Who can forget the opening lines with the Run DMC diss,

Party peoples, in the place to be
Just for you, it’s the Ultra-magnetic, MC’s!
[Keith] Say what, Peter Piper?
[C.Gee] To hell with childish rhymes!
[Keith] Cause this jam is just movin
[C.Gee] The crowd is steady groovin
[Keith] To a supersonic pace
[C.Gee] with highs and STUPID BASS
[Keith] With some pep
[C.Gee] and the step
[Ultra] Cause the beat is so funky the pace is well kept
Cause we’re

The next time we heard the Ultramag’s was on the dope “Traveling at the Speed of Thought“, where they borrow the “Louie Louie” guitar riff and a dope Rolling Stones drum beat to bring this track to life.  Kool Keith represents with that crazy cadence,

I go 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9
As I take your mind off
And on to a new track
To tame dogs how to act
Respect me, when I whip your brain
Skip your brain and dip your brain
In the lotion while I deck ya skull
I’m like a bird when I’m pecking ya skull
Til it hurts and swell, puffs, bleed, blood
Hatches down, ?covering knots for eye jammy?
I’m taking ya brain from the back
I’mma pull out ya ears cuz I’m sick
Traveling hard, ill off, another lunatic
Smacking germs, eating bugs, biting mouse
Roaches wonder why I’m traveling
On to Bellevue cuz I’m sick
Traveling hard at the speed of though

Before EPMD and Dr Dre were able to sample Joe Cocker’sWoman to Woman“, Ced Gee sampled it for “Funky” and that’s exactly what it is!  The remix that is included on this album, changes the beat and lyrics, but still bangs from here to Bangladesh!

When I first heard “Ease Back“, I knew I was going to love these guys forever!  These guys ooze that East Coast and New York flavor like no other rap group had before.  Hearing that whistle that Public Enemy uses for “Rebel Without A Pause“, I was hooked. Then I heard Kool Keith rap like he was going to die by the end of the song!

I’m back, back to smack attack
Those who wack and lack my experience
On the microphone holding my own ground
Dominating forces
Change the sources, punks takes losses
Enough cause it’s me on the mic
Feeding on words, smart like a nerd
Haven’t you heard this change of rhyme
Continuing the land of time
For my incredible, highly elevated
Smooth in the mind, more sophisticated
Motivated, as I relate it verbal
Dissing a mouse and smacking any gerbil
I bought a Saab, a 1990 Turbo
Shining, fog lights in the front
I’m by myself, no seats for a stunt
Cause I want it like that, I got it like that
I have it like, I need it like that
It’s better like that, I made it like that
I bought it like that, I’m living like that
For you wack MC’s
Who go on the mic and blow on the mic
And perpetrate frauds and making mistakes
Like an amateur but I’m a 20 year veteran
And better than, including the rest of them
I chew ’em all and spit out the best of them
One by one, I’m teaching my son to ease back, ease back

Now, the beat is so dope that Ced Gee represents with his own dope style with rhymes like these!

What’s up, it’s me again
I’m Ced Gee wit a funky blend
Of beats and rhymes on time wit my DJ
He’s not weak wit anything he plays
Rocking, slicing, rep is treacherous
Like a professor, he had perfected this
Simple potion, through devotion
Wit his blends, his motions and fastly approaching
Coasting, reaching higher levels
So when you see ’em, you best say hello
I’ma take out a knife,pen and paper and write
A rhyme so dope you can’t think, can’t cope
Ducks, who are you really kidding
You say you’re dope, well you’re admitting
That you can’t compete because you’re rhymes are weak
Full of more nonsense, past tense, incomplete
Weap and learn a new rap style
From Ced Gee, the wizard of know how
An innovation, elevation, psyching the nation
When I ease back, ease back

If there was a person on this planet that had never heard of Hip Hop and rap music, and I only had one chance to make then love the genre, this would be the song I would play for them.  Now, if they hate it, then they don’t know ish!  This is Hip Hop at it’s purest! No additives or preservatives!  Raw like “cocaine straight from Bolivia!

The late Paul C also contributed to this album with the crazy dope “Give the Drummer Some” where he samples a couple of James Brown tracks while Ced Gee and Kool Keith rip it up like they’ve been doing the whole album.

I’m ready
And now it’s my turn to build
Uplift, get swift, then drift
Off… and do my own thing
Switch up
Change my pitch up
Smack my bitch up,like a pimp
For any rapper who attempt to wear Troop’s
And step on my path
I’m willing as a A-1 General
Rhyme Enforcer 235 on a rhyme test
Whatever group or vest in line
I put ’em all behind
Play MC Ultra as a warning sign of my
Skill, and what my mind deserves
I smell a grape in the duck preserves
And who deserves the right to be king of the screen
And shout wack poetry
What, are you buggin’
Germs that want to law me
Quit it, before I heat your ear off
Let your burn deduct another year off rappin’
For a face I’m slappin’
Gimme applause when hands start clappin’
Now give the drummer some

When you have tracks like the futuristic “Break North” that samples Star WarsRebel Base” quote and “Watch Me Know” with a sample taken from The Jimmy Castor BunchIt’s Just Begun“, you know this album is a classic and deserves that 5 mic status!  Almost 30 years later and this album still holds up!  They were ahead of their time and maybe flew right over many people’s heads, but the true fans can recognize perfection when they see it!  We salute you Ultramagnetic MC’s!

Al E.

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