Old School Mondays:: Ultramagnetic MC’s (Funk Your Tape Up Edition)

Poppa large, big shot on the east coast!
Typically, the Ack and I have the same convo about the hill on a daily, or every second day basis. He’ll be like “when are you posting?” and I’ll be like, “I’m busy, but I’m getting to it”, and then he’ll be like “Oh I know, you’re a dad, you’re a busy guy” and then I’ll be like “I know, I am a dad, and yes, I’m busy!”. It’s riveting stuff really, but last week during one of these exchanges I referred to myself using the classic Kool Keith line that opened this post. I also immediately thought we need some Ultramagnetic for OSM.

A quick consultation with Dr. Google will reveal a zillion and one hip hop nerds telling you the same thing, but Ultramagnetic is really one of the truly classic groups from hip hop’s golden era. They have all the elements you need, including an iconic first album, a connection to one of hip hop’s legendary producers (Paul C), a solid but semi-panned second album, a follow-up to that semi-panned album that was kind of ignored yet reached cult status, and an acrimonious break-up and subsequent make-up years later in hopes of making a comeback with a new album. Seriously, combine unreal production, the charismatic lunacy of Kool Keith matched with the solid frontman skills of Ced Gee, DJ Moe Love on the wheels of steel and TR Love doing whatever it was he did (produce, manage, rap, weed-carry? I don’t think I ever knew), and it’s no wonder the mere mention of the Ultramagnetic name still gives hip hop purists a trouser tent to this day.

Considering we named our recent New Brunsiwck Mixtape as a kind of joint homage to Ultramagnetic and NB’s famous tourist spot, Magentic Hill, it only seems right we get them some OSM coverage. So we have two jams from Funk Your Head Up, Ultramagnetic’s second album which certainly doesn’t get the breathless tributes it’s predecessor does: Poppa Large, which was the genesis for this post, and Pluckin’ Cards, which I remember being my favorite song on the album.

MP3:: Ultramagnetic MC’s - Poppa Large
MP3:: Ultramagnetic MC’s - Pluckin Cards

Hey, is that a copy of “Golf” for the Vic-20 dubbed onto a KMart cassette tape? No, it’s actually my copy of Funk Your Head up. After a shitty ghetto blaster ate my tape, I asked my very handy father if he could help repair it, as it was one of my favorites. Well he did the job, re-spooling it on a former Vic-20 game cassette, which is pretty awesome. I lost a bit of the beginning of the album, but I was just happy it wasn’t ruined. I’ve always meant to get around to talking about this album, simply to post a pic of the tape. Now I have, and it makes me smile.

Ahh yes, the songs, right. I don’t have the video version of Poppa Large, which I think is a Beatminerz remix. It’s too bad, as I like that version better. The album version has a bit too much of the commercial sheen that lead a lot of people to diss this album, whereas the video/remix version has a more manic feel that captures Keith at his best I think. It’s still vintage Kool Keith either way, with his unique brand of scientifical nonsense: “pick ‘em up picklehead, pick ‘em up picky”, “not Ricky Ricardo or Guy Lombardo, sporting a ragtop, an El Dorado”. If there’s anyone who did the stream of consciousness rhymes better than Keith, I’ve never heard them. The video is also classic, simply because it features Keith, who once did time in a mental institution, wrapped in a straight jacket and wearing some kind of Hannibal Lecter face cage. Classic, crazy stuff.

Pluckin’ Cards is just awesome, with Keith unleashing battle rhymes of the generic and specific variety over a simple, yet funky, Impeach The President-based drum track. The first verse is just classic Keith bravado, saying things that likely mean a whole lot to him, yet are kind of cryptic to anyone else: “Living like Oscar, Big Bird and Grover”, “I see rappers I know they turned African, I just pedal my bike, then I laugh again”. The second verse is a bit more specific as he take on female MC’s “How bout Monie (Love?) and Nikki (D?) they both bullcrap” and then appears to go after the legendary BDK “How could I diss myself in front of Dolemite”, “You rap on R&B tracks and whatever, Hi Uncle Tom, go head entertain, Dance and get sweaty, and let me use my brain”. I love the Kane long time in all his cheesy, ladies man glory, but these are some funny lines. Anyway, I always loved this song, was happy it was preserved when the tape was eaten, so enjoy.

Video:: Ultramagnetic MC’s - Poppa Large

This entry was posted on Monday, May 5th, 2008 at 9:05 am and is filed under Uncategorized. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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