Wednesday, October 16, 2019

Ultramagnetic MC’s - Critical Beatdown LP


Next Plateau (1988)

Ultramagnetic MC’s have long been a favorite of mine.  The first album I ever heard by them was Funk Your Head Up.  I bought that CD at a record store in Heathrow airport while I was on a layover going to Spain as part f a class trip my sophomore year of high school.  I think I may have seen the video for Poppa Large prior to picking up the CD, but I’m not positive.  It was mostly just taking a chance on something I heard of when I had a little extra spending money in my pocket.  To this day, that’s my favorite Ultramagnetic record.

I bought The Four Horsemen as soon as it came out.  I remember seeing a review for it in The Source and I went out looking forward almost immediately.   It’s also a great album and one I’ve listened to countless times.  The reason I bring these records up is because they are my foundation for Ultramagnetic MC’s.  I didn’t get Critical Beatdown until many, many years later.  It wasn’t something easily found when I was younger, so I don’t think I heard the CD until my late 20s and I only added the vinyl to my collection in the past few weeks.

The fact that this record came out in 1988 is kind of insane.  The fact that several of the songs on this album were released in the years prior to 1988 is even crazier.  It’s so different from other albums of the era and so far ahead of its time, I kind of can’t even fathom how it was put together.  There was nothing like this out in 1988, which is probably why it’s super respected by hip hop folks, but also not really know as much by the outside world.  Even today, after thirty more years of hip hop innovation it sticks out a bit as this off center masterpiece.  Kool Keith is one of the most unique MCs to ever pick up a microphone.  I don’t like everything he’s ever done, but the three Ultramagnetic albums are pretty untouchable.

Funk Your Head Up is still my favorite Ultramagnetic record, but relistening to Critical Beatdown, it’s hard not to be floored by the sheer audacity of this album being released in 1988.

Ultramagnetic MC’s - Critical Beatdown (YouTube full album playlist):

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