20 Definitive Blerd Rap Albums
2. Critical Beatdown by Ultramagnetic MCs (1987)
The mid to late 80’s were a transformative time for hip-hop as lyricism was settling into the driver’s seat. Rakim, KRS-One, Big Daddy Kane, and Kool G Rap are often mentioned as the leaders of that movement. However, there is a group that unfortunately gets left out of the conversation too often: The Ultramagnetic MCs. Their innovative production techniques using the SP-1200 sampler ushered in a new way to craft beats. Employing massive vocabularies, their unorthodox rhymes schemes and wordplay still melt the brain today. Sometimes they didn’t even rhyme!
In an interview with Sway, Kool Keith said that his vision for their debut, Critical Beatdown, was to “put sci-fi to hard street beats”. Reading lyrics from their break out hit “Ego Trippin,” that vision is clear:
They use the simple back and forth, the same, old rhythm That a baby can pick up, and join, right with them But their rhymes are pathetic, they think they copacetic Using nursery terms, at least not poetic On a educated base, intelligent wise As the record just turn, you learn, plus burn By the flame of the lyrics which cooks the human brain Providing overheating knowledge, by means causing pain Make a migraine, heated your cells, start to melt While the Technics spin, the wax is on the belt Motivating clockwise the more you realize Moe Love's moving steady, by most, with Ever Ready Like a battery, charged, I'm worth the alkaline Yes the mystery to solve, so seek and define…
The alchemy created on this album shattered the boundaries of what was possible in rap. Even more amazingly, according to the group members, their rhymes were freestyles written just before they entered the recording booth! — Brendon Spencer