Monday, October 02, 2006

Ultramagnetic MCs - "Ego Trippin"



As I said in my introductory post, this blog came about as a result of me searching for this record on the net. I thought it was only fair to express why I feel this song was so important in hip-hop's golden era.

Released in 1986, it was the Ultra's debut single on Next Plateau records - the 1st of many from the acclaimed "Critical Beatdown" album. It was the first record, that I know of, to sample the drum-break from "Synthetic Substitution" by Melvin Bliss; a drum-break that has since been sampled hundreds of times but never to such good effect!

Opening up with a typical '86-style "Party people in the place to be" declaration, the first verse soon starts with Kool Keith & Ced Gee tearing up the mic, belting out a line each. The first two lines seem to be an attack on Run DMC (though I'm not quite sure why) - "Say what, Peter Piper?" (KK), "To hell with childish rhymes" (CG). The rest of the verse is just a straight-forward ego trip before a very simple, but extremely catchy, chorus.

One verse, one chorus in & you're already hooked. Or, at least, I was. I remember hearing it originally on the Mike Allen Capital FM Rap Show (later hosted by Tim Westwood, before he moved on to Radio 1) and it almost became a signature tune, being Number 1 on his unofficial chart for what seemed like 3 months or so!

It's my understanding that Ced Gee was the brains behind the production of this track (and much of the Critical Beatdown album) but it was the orgnised chaos of Kool Keith's vocal talent that laced the backing, that really took hold of my attention. His complex, almost mal-structured, lyrical style was something that appeared different from what I'd heard before. Maybe he was able to draw from his experiences at Bellvue (a psychiatric hospital) - as many of his lyrics have references to the brain & the subconcious. Maybe he was just a genius. He was definitely, in my opinion, clearly intellectual with a very wide range of vocabulary.

This record remains one of my favourites from the "golden era", paving the way for a host of other artists to try complex vocal styles over the top of sampled breakbeats from the days of James Brown etc. A classic in every sense of the word!

A few links -

"Ego Trippin" Lyrics -
http://www.lyricsfreak.com/u/ultramagnetic+mc's/ego+trippin_10161554.html

Melvin Bliss - "Synthetic Substitution" -
http://www.rolldabeats.com/audio/breaks/melvin_bliss-synthetic_substitution.mp3

Short video clip of "Ego Trippin" Live @ The Bomb Tour -
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rQGkEGiBWuE

"Ego Trippin" on LastFM -
http://www.last.fm/music/Ultramagnetic+MC's/_/Ego+Trippin'

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