Wednesday, April 24, 2024

Ugly Duckling - Journey to Anywhere 2xLP


XL / 1500 (2000)

Every Wednesday, in honor of Ed Lover Dance Day from Yo! MTV Raps, I take a break from rock and roll to write a little bit about hip hop. In the late 80s and early 90s hip hop ruled my musical life. During this often called 'Golden Era' I discovered so much incredible music. As I am slowly replacing the CDs I've had for thirty plus years with vinyl copies, I'm going to talk about some albums that had a really important impact on me during some very formative years.

When this album came out in that futuristic year 2000, I probably couldn't have been less interested in hip hop.  It had been years since anything came out that I liked and I had just about stopped looking by that point.  I didn't pay any attention to the indie rap boom of the late 90s, and I still think it's a little over celebrated if I'm being honest.  To me, very little released then holds up to the Golden Era classics I grew up with.

So I was very surprised when I was interning at the music promotion company and someone threw this album on.  I was immediately struck by the production and beats.  Hey, this sounds like the hip hop that I like.  The stuff from when I was a kid.  Which was only six years ago at that point, but it feels like a lifetime when you're only 23.  Ugly Duckling was maybe the first group since the Golden Era than made me sit up, take notice and think that maybe there was still hip hop out there that I could like.

In those years, I have listened to this album a ton.  In additional to the incredible, classic production throughout the album, the lyrics are just so much fun.  There's no fake posturing or overblown stories.  What you have hear are a bunch of self deprecating, hip hop heads that wanted to make an album that sounded like what they grew up on.  Maybe Pharcyde is a decent jumping off point if you want to compare their lyrics to someone else, but the production is a lot more bass heavy, upbeat and bouncier.

It took forever to find this on vinyl at a good price.  My CD copy has seen a lot of spins over the past 24 years, I'm glad it can have a break not that I can finally put this one on the turntable.

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