Although a good chunk of the artists' bios/discographies in this web site could very well be considered their unofficial
web sites, the Ultramagnetic MC's have always been one of my favorite groups, thus, they will recieve a MUCH more
thorough bio and soundclip (including entire tracks where appropriate) section than the rest. In addition, it should be noted that the format of this page is somewhat
different to the others just to accomodate more detailed descriptions of their material. NOTE: for additional information,
you may want to check out Kool Kieth's page.
Well... it all started back in one of the most magical years in hip-hop's history, 1986. At that time, you had this sensation
known as Rakim tearing up the microphone, KRS and MC Shan were right in the middle of one of the most prolific MC battles in
history, and a little known group called the Ultramagnetic MC's (MC's Kool Keith, T.R. Love, Ced Gee and DJ Moe Love) dropped
the all-out classic 12" 'Ego Trippin'/Funky Potion':
This first commercially released 12" from Ultra was (and still is) monumental for many reasons:
Now, on with the show! Ego Trippin' starts out with the hard-hitting beats from the classic 'Substitution' break, "Party peoples, in the place to be...Just for you, it's
the Ultra---Maagnetic----EMMMM-CEEEEEEE'S". It's amazing, but after 20 seconds, you're already hyped, and Ultra hasn't even stepped up
to the mic yet! Soon, you get a very impressive exchange between Kool Keith and Ced Gee on the first verse:
- It was really the first record to ever feature such an outworldly and complex approach to rhyming, with Kool Keith being largely
responsible for this new style of rap.
- It featured what was to be some of the most innovative production ever heard, thanks to Ultra member, Ced-Gee - probably one of
the most underrated and least talked about producers in hip-hop music. NOTE: he was not only the man behind a very good chunk of Ultra's
best material but also played a very big role in the production of BDP's "Criminal Minded", another classic hip-hop album.
- Most importantly, it introduced us to the Ultramagnetic MC's, one of the craziest, strangest, wildest, and most brilliant hip-hop
The jam is just movin'/(KK)
The crowd is steady groovin'/(CED)
To a supersonic pace/(KK)
With highs and stupid bass/(CED)
With some pep, in the step/(KK & CED)
Cause the beat is so funky, the place is well-kept/(KK & CED)
Cause we're/(KK & CED)
Ultraaaa, Magnetic-Magnetic MC's/
Ultraaaa, Magnetic-Magnetic MC's....
After this, Kool Keith and Ced Gee each drop very memorable verses followed by a brief interlude by Ultra DJ, Moe Love, and then
continue with yet another verse each.
They use a simple back and forth/
The same old rhythm/
That a baby can pick up and join right with 'em/
But their rhymes are pathetic/
They think they're copacetic...
Sure, credit should be given where credit is due and, yes, Ced Gee drops some great lines in this song; however, it is that crazy
Kool Keith who catches the listener's ear. Line after line, he drops verses that "will stun and amaze you", it is simply incredible!
All I can say, is 'Ego Trippin'' is 5:21 minutes of pure, classic hip-hop.
On the B-Side of this album is yet another great track called 'Funky Potion'. The actual format of the song is quite similar to 'Ego
Trippin'': Ced and KK start off with a brief exchange between each other and then proceed to drop individual verses. Naturally, it
would be very hard for ANYONE to match the quality and energy of 'Ego Trippin', but Ultra did a very decent job with this track. The
opening verse between the two MC's was really not that great but then the track really picks up after that with Ced and KK continuing
to drop verse after verse of great lyrics. On the production side, Ced-Gee comes through yet again with a really bassy track that thumps
along at a furious pace. It's amazing, but after listening to this 12", you really
begin to feel that Ultra is on the brink of something really big.
I've actually been told on many occasions that there was a 12" Ultra released before "Ego Trippin". A very helpful person by the name of
Infinite was able to provide the following listing & title:
I'm Gonna Give You Love - Sutra/DNA 1985
I'm Gonna Give You Love
Apparantly, they released it under the name Bronx Vice with Red Alert. I've never heard them personally but they're supposedly on a more
freaky sex tip than most of the Critical Beatdown material - somewhat of a prelude to KK's wierdness. Ziggy-Zag talks about loving your
vinyl and shit...sounds pretty crazy!!! Again, this info is not 100% accurate but I'd say it's pretty damn close. I'll probably never get
sound files for these unless someone wants to spread the wealth to me...PLEASE!!!
Ultra's commercial release was another 12" which came out about a year later and was called "Travelling at the Speed of Thought":
'Travelling...' had a very different sound to it than 'Ego Trippin'. It had much more of a party-like feel to it and really didn't have
much of the complexity of their previous release. It's strange, but Ultra really went back to the basics using an almost RUN-DMC style
of rapping; however, don't get me wrong, this was still a great track. It featured more of Ced-Gee's innovative production highlighted
by really cool sampling and it was interlaced with some cool lines too.
The B-side to this 12", as most Ultramagnetic fans would agree, was the real prize. 'MC's Ultra (Part II)' was a very intense 5 minute track which
sounds as though it was meant to be some sort of a sequel to 'Ego Trippin'. Anyhow, Keith and Ced drop some incredibly hype lyrics over the thumping
tight beats in this song. In addition, there were no real changes to the overall format of the song in relation to their previous release (hey, why
mess with a good thing anyways!!): KK and Ced start of the song together with a cool introduction and then proceed to rhyme individualy for the rest
of the song.
Party people's in the place to be...
Just for you, it's part 2 of the Ultraaaaaa Magneeeetic emceeeeeeees
(Kool Keith & Ced Gee together)
Now remember part 2
When we continue the groove
And too smooth
And truly confuse
As a scientist, advanced and technical
With a polygon
Forming def beats to your ears
Your ear canals are burning
While the techniques spin keeps turning
At a dominating speed...
I think you get the idea of what this song is all about...
The next record released by Ultra was the "Menatally Mad/Funky" 12".
Mentally Mad - Next Plateau 1987
Mentally Mad (Instrumental)
Just when you thought the Ultramagnetic MC's totally outdid themselves on their previous 2 records, they come in with a 12" that's equally as good
as "Ego Trippin/Funky Potion" and maybe even better than the "Travelling..." 12". 'Mentally Mad' is pretty much a self-explanitory track. Ced-Gee
and Kool Keith go totally nuts and tell us how crazy they are. My only complaint about this song is that their voices aren't very clear and it
really is quite difficult to make out what they're saying. Yet this is LARGELY overshadowed by the complexity of Ced Gee's production on this
track. He really is becoming a leader in the use of the newfound sampling technology with a collage of sounds that no one else would ever dream of
throwing together. Essentially, 'Mentally Mad' is a must have for any Ultra fan.
The B-Side to this record is pretty much the second best song Ultra has ever made next to 'Ego Trippin'. 'Funky' reaches perfection in many ways:
There really isn't much more I can say about this song which differs from my descriptions of their previous records. They continue to bring you
hype lyrics over great music.
- Ultra continue to delight the listener with their trademark complex rhyming style that really shines through on this track.
- Ced-Gee makes a brilliant use of that famous Joe Cocker sample (the same one featured one 'California Love' by Dre and 2Pac) which makes for
an excellent backdrop to Ultra's furious wordplay.
- The entire Ultramagnetic crew further solidify themselves as one of the most innovative groups ever known to hip-hop music.
I think by now, you pretty much get the picture of what Ultra is all about. They aren't a Public Enemy/De La Soul type of group which creates
songs with deep meanings and social commentary nor are they a typical battle group which claims they are the greatest MC's on the planet. Sure,
their style so far is very braggadocio, but they just do things differently to other groups. You really get this feeling that they are hundreds of
years ahead of their time with their advanced lyrics and beat making. If it weren't for Ultra paving the way for this new brand of hip-hop music,
I'm pretty sure you wouldn't have legendary MC's like Organized Konfusion, Company Flow, and Rass Kass nor producers like DJ Premier. In fact,
"Criminal Minded" might not have been the album it was if it weren't for Ced-Gee.
Ultra's following two 12"s, "Watch Me Now" and "Ease Back" were starting to show a more polished side to Ultra's music.
Don't get me wrong, these are still two great records simply because Ultra have really cleaned up the production and their deliveries in these songs.
For now, the raw and uncut feel of their previous records is officially gone as Ultra begin to set themselves up for the release of their debut LP
"Critical Beatdown". Although most of my favorite material from Ultra comes from their first three records, I really feel that they've achieved a
perfect balance of complexity (both lyrically and musically) and listenability with "Watch Me Now" and "Ease Back". Each song features a really deep,
pounding bass combined with nice crispy highs.
With FIVE incredible 12"'s behind them, the Ultramagnetic MC's decided to unleash one of the greatest LP's ever made: "Critical Beatdown".
This LP placed Ultra in the same light as Eric B. & Rakim, BDP, and Run-DMC as being one of the few artists in that era who have been able to give their fans
a solid album from front to back. On the other hand, a few still viewed it as somewhat dissapointing in terms of the selection of some of the tracks on the album:
Despite these minor flaws, the album is considered an all-out classic piece of work by people all around the world. Each song flows beautifully into the next
one as Ced-Gee and Kool Keith continue to deliver wicked rhymes over very tight beats. Although, a good number of the songs on the album have been previously
released in various forms, 'Ain't it Good to You', 'Give the Drummer Some', 'Break North', and 'Critical Beatdown' are incredible new additions to Ultra's
portfolio of material. They fit in lovely with the rest of their material and became instant hits with hip-hop fans all around.
- a "remixed" version of 'Ego Trippin' which was merely the same as the original one but was lacking Ced and Keith's last two verses
- a completely different remix of 'Travelling...' which was essentially a two verse, 1:51 minute track which was too damn short
- a weak remix of 'Funky' - they should have just kept the original one IMO
About a year later, after the release of "Critical Beatdown", Ultra rounded out their barrage of 12"'s with two album cuts "Give the Drummer Some/Moe Luv's Theme"
and "Travelling at the Speed of Thought":
And as a special treat...here's an entire live performance of A Chorus Line (Live from London). Everyone except for
Tim Dog did some nice freestyles...and I included all of the performance including Ultra's pre and post performace chatting on stage. Oh yeah, I totally forgot the
name of the person who gave this to me...but if you come accross this page...drop me a line.
"Give the Drummer..." was essentially an album for the club and radio DJ's which featured a radio version (remixes) and instrumentals of the LP versions of the
two songs. However, the second release of "Travelling..." easily matches (if not surpasses) the first release in terms of quality and is considered yet another
must have for true hip-hop fans.
The A-Side to "Travelling..." features two different mixes of the LP version but contain two more hype verses by KK and Ced-Gee. The Hip-House mix was an obvious
attempt at getting them some more radio play but still bumps along quite nicely (same goes for the radio version). But what most Ultra fans will tell you is that
the real prize on this record is the incredible B-Side track called 'A Chorus Line'. As one of the hardest and roughest tracks ever made by this group, 'A Chorus Line'
introduces us to two other Ultra members: T.R. Love and Tim Dog. Tim Dog came off pretty good on this song, dropping some pretty good rhymes with his deep and abrasive
voice and T.R. Love managed to display some half-decent lyrical ability as well. Still, it was Ced-Gee and Kool Keith who stole the show with their incredible chemistry
and terrific word play. BTW, do I need to mention that Ced put together yet another brilliant track...
There you have it, a complete breakdown of ALL of Ultra's material up to 1989. As you can probably imagine, nearly every one of their songs will go down in history
as being some of the most advanced and innovative music ever made. It is very important that you know about these songs as not too many people have ever really heard about them.
I guarantee, they will probably be forever forgotten if the newer generations in hip-hop aren't given a chance to learn about Ultra and the impact that they have had
on hip-hop music.
Before we move on, I should point out a lovely little compilation which featured one of the hottest & most sought after Ultra track of the 80's, 'Bait'.
This was actually a song released off the legendary Red Alert Goes Berzerk Compilation album (which also included the full length 12" version of 'Ego Trippin'):
Red Alert Goes Berzerk - Let's Go (2001)
My Mic Sounds Nice (by Salt N Pepa)
That's How I'm Living (by Black, Rock & Ron)
South Bronx (by BDP)
Bait (by Ultramagnetic MC's)
Armed & Dangerous (by Kings Of Pressure)
I'll Take Your Man (by Salt N Pepa)
Cracked Out (by Masters Of Ceremony)
Don't Make Me Laugh (by Sparky Dee)
Oh yeah, there's apparently a promo version of 'Bait' which features all four verses which were later to appear on the "B-Sides Companion" compilation. Anyone with info, pleeeeaaaasssseeeee let me know!!!
After about a couple year's break, Ultra decided to break off from Next Plateau and joined a much larger label called Mercury. Although Next Plateau were VERY supportive
of all the work Ultra had put forth up until now, the group felt it was time that they try to gain a little more exposure and finally tap into the large fan base that
hip-hop was starting to receive.
Their first release was the much anticipated 12" called "Make it Happen". As most Ultra fans would agree, this was a promising start for the group on their new label. 'Make it Happen'
was very much liked by the underground and the B-Side, 'A Chorus Line Pt. 2', was keeping in line with the quality of the original 'A Chorus Line'. Still, after the release
of this very good record, fans were becoming impatient with Ultra as it had been nearly 4 years since they dropped "Critical Beatdown".
In '92, the group unleashed their second full-length LP, "Funk Your Head Up":
Sadly, though, many of Ultra's fans were very dissapointed with the outcome of this album. Many
did not like the production or they felt Ultra had changed their style way too much to appeal to a broader fan base. In any event, this album was VERY different to
"Critical Beatdown". Sure, it still had some great lyrics and pretty hype production on quite a few of the tracks, yet it still lacked the power and influence that "Critical Beatdown"
and many of their 12"'s had on hip-hop music back in the 80's. With NWA, Native Tongues, Main Source, and many others reaching their prime, there was just no room for a group like
Ultra anymore. People were tired of their style and were looking at other groups for inspiration. Oh well... It should be noted that there were still some great songs on this album that people should know about.
Of course, 'Poppa Large', 'Make it Happen', 'A Chorus Line Pt. 2', are obvious choices, but 'Pluckin' Cards' and 'MC Champion' were very well put together songs which featured
some classic rhymes and trademark Ced-Gee production.
Before moving on, Ultra did manage to release a follow-up 12" to "Funk Your Head Up", "Poppa Large".
What's truly remarkable about this record is not the fact that it comes very close to "Ego Trippin/Funky" in terms of quality and that they managed to woo their long lost fans back with
these remixes, it was that Mercury all of a sudden dropped them from the label just when they started regain the respect of the hip-hop community. Anyways, what made this record so good was
the incredible work of the almighty Beatminerz on the 'East Coast Mix' and then the slammin' DJ Pooh remix for the 'West Coast Mix'. Both of the mixes are very nice but the 'East Coast Mix'
really kicks ass. The Beatminerz demonstrated some of their early signs of brilliance on this extremely hype remix, a wicked combination with the flow of Rhythm X himself...It should be noted
that this was one of the first times that very influencial players from both coasts came together to work on an album together. Unlike some other useless East/West pairings of late (Nas & Dr. Dre comes to mind),
this one actually works really well, further showing what hip-hop has been missing due to the useless coastal wars.
After being left out in the cold by Mercury's idiotic record exec's, they managed to regroup and sign on with a credible hip-hop label called Wild Pitch. By '93, they released their third LP
entitled "The Four Horsemen":
This album is a neat little piece of work for many reasons:
With that being said, this album was NOT flawless. One major concern of many fans was the inconsistency of Ced-Gee's rhymes and flow. For
some reason, there were certain tracks where his voice was really DEEEP and his flow was very disjointed ('Saga...' comes to mind) frustrating the hell out
of listenters. But then on others, he was like the Ced-Gee of old. Another thing is that this was still not the Critical Beatdown II that everyone seems to
expect from this group and thus continued to get moderately slept on by the hip-hop community. It's a shame because they are missing out on some great tracks.
But that's about it for the negatives, for the most part, you're looking at a very good LP.
- It gave the 4 man crew a much needed spark after their miserable episode with Mercury.
- It introduced us to a new and much doper Ultramagnetic sound thanks to help from up-and-comers like Godfather Don.
- From an 'edutainment' standpoint, these guys shed some MUCH NEEDED light on the subject of the Negro Baseball Leagues that has essentially
been ignored by many other prominent MC's.
- Lastly, it proved that the greatest MC in the world, Kool Keith, can still hold his own on the microphone (and then some) after all these years.
The "Ego Trippin" of this album has got to be 'Raise It Up'. With help from Godfather Don both behind the boards and on the mic, Ultra
managed to give us a very smoooooth and jazzy track with some very nice & polished rhymes from KK, Don and Ced. We then move onto a funny little track called 'Two Brothers
With Checks', hmmm... I've never really figured out what's going on in this song but I still like it. Two other extremely tight tracks have got to be the Kool Keith solos:
'Checkin' My Style' and 'One, Two, One, Two'. You really begin to believe that Keith hasn't lost a damn thing since the CB days when you hear him rip it up over these tracks.
Other notable dope songs are definitely 'We Are The Horseman', 'See The Man On The Street', and
'Don't Be Scared'.
Oh yeah, as I mentioned before, there are numerous references to baseball throughout this album (they even mentioned my favorite team on 'Two Brothers...',
the Montreal Expos). The excellent 'Saga of Dandy, The Devil, and Day' was a wonderful (and THOROUGH) dedication to some of the
incredible players and events of the Negro Baseball Leagues in the 40's. Even the track itself was nice to listen to with its smooth, jazzy production.
Well, I guess that pretty much sums up the album. In terms of quality, it fits somewhere between "Critical Beatdown" and "Funk Your Head Up". Again, mega props have to go out to
Ultra for being able to come out of all that disasterous label mess (which usually leads to the undoing of 95% of MC's these days) and dropping a very solid, yet sadly underrated, LP.
After the release of this LP, Ultra released two 12"'s:
The "Two Brothers..." 12" was really nothing special, just your standard LP versions with instrumentals. However, they did
manage to pick the two most bugged-out songs on the entire LP which pretty much saves the 12" from being a total waste. I'm
sure this would make a fine addition to any DJ's collection.
On the other hand, "Raise It Up" was a very strong 12", featuring nice remixes of both tracks. Personally, I really didn't think
there was much of a need for a remix to 'Raise It Up' as it was so good to begin with, but I guess it makes for a nice change of
pace once in a while. The 'Saga...' remix is actually much better than the original track. It would definitely take the title for
being the most laid-back track that has ever come from the Ultramagnetic crew.
With the poor sales of this album, the Ultramagnetic MC's pretty much went MIA for a couple of years and I guess everyone went their
seperate ways - being the most underrated and slept on MC's has got to take its toll. In '95, however, Kool Keith re-surfaced on the
solo tip doing a rediculously large number of projects under different aliases (Dr. Octogon, Big Willie Smith, Sinister6000, Mr. Gerbik,
Mr. Clean, 'Ultra' [with Tim Dog], and Reverend Tom). Two other members of the crew, Moe Luv & TR Love also had a hand in a few of these obscure and strange projects.
Obviously, if I were to get into these on this page, it would end up being over 50K (in text alone!!!) so be sure to check out the
Kool Keith page for more details.
On another note, there was still one Ultramagnetic member who really hasn't done too much since their latest album and he is Ced-Gee.
Now, there have been all sorts of silly rumours floating around him, but the truth is that there has been some sort of a break-up of
the crew over Ced's selling of all of Ultra's unreleased material to Tuff City. Apparently, he did this without the consent of the
other members and it led to the creation of 'Ultra' - since they obviously couldn't use the 'Ultramagnetic MC's' name. Anyways, one
LP and two 12"'s (that I know of) were released under the 'Ultra' name and then 3 LP's & 2 12"s were additionally released by Tuff City.
For all the controversy and contempt held against Tuff City and the Ultra releases, "Basement Tapes" is pretty good:
By far, the best songs are 'Make You Shake', a really eerie distorted song recorded on a 4-track; 'Get A Job', a self-explanitory
track; and of course the very nice 'Brainiac'. Many Ultra fans would also discover two songs on here which sound very similar to
existing material that they released from CB. 'You Got To Feel It' could very well have been a remix-type track for 'Feelin It'
and of course, 'We're Ultra (Part III)' was some sort of continuation/remix for 'MC's Ultra (Part II)'. Ah well, not bad, but all in
all, this really is material for the hardcore Ultra fan as most others really couldn't (or wouldn't) appreciate these tracks very much.
On the other hand, "New York What Is Funky" as well as the 12" were not that great at all:
I really thought these were a waste of time, even for big time Ultra fans. I don't know, it just seems like total overkill to release
more demo stuff (of even lesser quality!!!). If you really wanted to know, 'I'm Fuckin Flippin', 'Grip The Mic', and 'New York What Is Funky'
are pretty much the only half-decent tracks on this...everthing else is pretty awful.
And this brings us to the next slew of demo/basement/unreleased Ultra stuff, "Moe Luv's Basement Tapes" (for which I don't have any info right
now) as well as a 12". If 'Watch Your Back' is any indication, you're probably going to get more of the same old thing:
Now as an interesting move by Next Plateau (to apparantly equal Tuff City's slew of lost Ultramag releases), they decided to release a little album
of their own, entitled "The B-Sides Companion":
As you can see, it features a whole wack of neat little b-side material. Unfortunately, they aren't the original versions but kinda f*cked up remixed versions, some of which have the vocals totally re-recorded.
But all is not lost, Next Plateau were able to hook us up with some juicy never seen before tracks like 'I'm On', 'Kool Keith Model Android #406', and then 'Live At Tramps'. In addition, there's a re-union cut
featuring most of the old Ultramag members all together on this new track. It's not that bad either...
Well, although they are considered a different entity on paper, "Ultra" is essentially Ultramagnetic and that material should very well be covered on this page too:
If anything, this LP will remind you a lot of a track off "Funk Your Head Up" called 'Pluckin' Cards'. This essentially a big diss album with Tim Dog & Kool Keith handing out beatdown to anyone and everyone
from NY to LA. It's pretty funny at times although it can get a little annoying after a few listens. As an interesting side note, the back cover to this LP is hillarious with KK & Tim Dog mocking some of the more
familiar celebrities in the hip-hop community (Green Man = Red Man, No Face = Ghostface Killer, etc...).
Anyhow, a couple of surprisingly solid 12"s were released off this album:
The Big Time 12" was not bad considering it featured a nice little remix & then a solid b-side off the LP. But the real prize was the "Industry Is Wack" 12" with a phat remix of the title cut and then a solid
b-side in "Outtatowniggaz".
That pretty much takes care of 99% of what the Ultramagnetic MC's have done so far, pretty amazing eh! If not one of the greatest and most brilliant groups
of MC's to have ever existed, they are also one of the most dedicated and hard-working groups I've ever known. To think that after all these years, members
like Kool Keith are still extremely active and doing amazingly well. I honestly believe that they will come together again for good (they did a reunion show
sometime in July/Aug '97) and may very well drop another good album. Anyways, I hope you enjoyed reading the Ultra page as much as I did creating it and if
you have any questions/comments/corrections/additions to make, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.