"Critical Beatdown" came as the debut album from the Ultramagnetic MCs (who consist of Kool Keith, Ced-Gee, Moe Love and TR Love - although the latter member didn't play a part in this release despite appearing on the cover). It came in 1988, possibly the most significant year for Hip Hop (as N.W.A's "Straight Outta Compton, Public Enemy's "It Takes A Nation of Millions To Hold Us Back" and Run-D.M.C's Tougher Than Leather, amongst many others, came out). Ultramagnetic, as many others were ale to do things that no others prior to them had thought up and took things in directions that couldn't be matched after.
1. "Watch Me Now"
The sharp beats that you get from this one are were seen to have a massive impact as they were heard for the first time as they came with this album and the techniques that were used weren't heard at any time prior to this in the Hip hop world (although is was widespread by 1990) as they come in hard over a sample from the Jimmy Castor Bunch to liven you up as the thing opens up well.
2. "Ease Back"
Using a little something from The J.B.'s (n the same way that would be more famously used on Public Enemy's "Terminator X To The Edge Of Panic" you find that they come in strong with the oddball rhymes from Kool Keith which take you by surprise through the way that he chooses to ride the rhythms in a manner that seems quite experimental as he appears to always be finding the right way in, before Ced-gee gets a chance to do things in a similar way.
3. "Ego Trippin'"
Here they come in strong with one of the most recognisable throwback eighties drum lines, and I felt that from this heavy groove, that you won't be able to get over once you have heard it once it makes for a straight killer of a tune that does massive things and sees that the MCs come in well with some complex flows that bring in clear influence from the likes of Run-D.M.C. and Public Enemy as well as a lot of their original ways too.
4. "Moe Luv's Theme"
Here you get a short, sharp display from Moe Love as he comes in hard with an intense offering an just goes in hard as he cuts up some throwback breaks that listeners are likely to recognise and he ensures that they enable Kool Keith to throw in more of his strange flows which go against what you are likely to have heard in any Hip Hop track recorded before this time (so it would have been very fresh at the time).
5. "Kool Keith Housing Things"
This is a raw cut from them and appears to get them taking on from what The Jungle brothers had done with "I'll House You" as here you get one that has some subtle House influence thrown into the mix as you get one of the more full-on, in-your-face offerings that you could have got from the time and in a way that few others would be able to handle as they go off with the raw breaks and rapid slaps.
6. "Travelling At The Speed Of Thought" (Remix)
Using a very unexpected sample of "Louie Louie", you see that with this one they take things to new innovative places as they carry through the rough Breakbeats of the last one and inject them into this one without much effort and manage to make for another intense one that will take you by surprise and show you just how they differ from all others out there (even without it lasting two minutes).
7. "Feelin' It"
This is a big one and one that has Ced-Gee bringing even more of the killer beats and samples that you wouldn't expect to get as it gives the MCs a chance to come with yet more of the fresh rhymes. Here the flows are very interesting and force you to be brought in as you here how Kool Keith come with an unpredictable delivery style which compliments how unusually the choice of words that he uses are.
8. "One Minute Less"
Here you see that Ced-Gee comes and kicks and funky rhyme that uses the odd style that is very prominent through the release as you see that it forces you o be taken back by its complex lyricism that was seen to tae over the game at this time. It is another of the short ones from the release, but you see that Ced-Gee ensures that it will remain as a memorable one nonetheless and keep you involved.
9. "Ain't It Good For You"
It seems that you get things rejuvenated here as the pace picks up massively and it enables the lyrics from the MCs to follow this lead as you get some engaging, unpredictable polysyllabic rhymes that take you to levels that you simply can't keep up with upon an initial hearing. I felt that due to this also it means that you are forced to take things back and o through it again to feel everything that is said.
10. "Funky" (Remix)
Using Joe Cocker's "Woman To Woman" (just as Dr. Dre would use for 2pac's "California Love" this one is as funky as the title indicates and forces you to enjoy what goes down here as they go in with some intense material that appears to get Kool Keith and Ced-Gee taking turns to go off with rhymes which, just as in early Rakim fashion, don't need specific themes as the music itself is enough inspiration for them.
11. "Give The Drummer Some"
From the get-go of this one I knew that I as bound to get more incredible work from them as you see that here they get down to one that sands out massively as you get Ced-Gee taking a step back form the production to allow room for Paul C, who comes in with some powerful material that centres around the raw drum line and the intensity that comes out of the funky percussion from it 9which the MCs compliment).
12. "Break North"
This one has them coming in strong with some more of the kinds of things that have been heard on various times during the record, yet you still aren't able to tire of it as they do it all so well in ways that others wouldn't be able to compete with. They let it be known just how incredible their skills are (again) when compared to others there from the time and mix this in with rhymes which bring in topical things that dominated Hip Hop tracks of the time.
13. "Critical Beatdown"
The eponymous track from the album is another killer tone from the thing and has them going harder than very with the music as they come out with a tune that stands out massively as you see that the off-beat flows take out once again whilst the beats take on more of the raw format that enables the lack of straight-forward Gangsta Rap (that took over by this point) to be substituted effectively.
14. "When I Burn"
This is another massively funky jam from them and one that appears to liven you up again as they get down over more of the samples which use both the typical places in Funk, but also some unexpected musical fields to show how far they stand out from the crowd to do their thing they way to the end. The ways that the y ride the beat remains difficult to interpret, but still excites you, even at this stage.
The album is seen to end on another massive tune, but you see that they come out with a tune that sounds quite different to a lot of the others on the thing as t is much lighter than a lot of what else you get from the thing and so it seems to round it off well by calming you down through Ced-Gee's production, even though his rhymes aren't quite as soothing as what you get elsewhere in it as they rip it to the end.
This album is a straight classic release and one that stands as one of the biggest underground releases for the game. There isn't a single weak point in the thing, but I can see how people can tire of hearing the dense lyrics at every stage through the thing. However, I have to say that I enjoyed this style and it seems to make you want to listen more to work out exactly what it going on within it.
"Disc #1 Tracklisting
1 Watch Me Now
2 Ease Back
3 Ego Trippin' [Original 12""]
4 Moe Luv's Theme
5 Kool Keith Housing Things
6 Travelling at the Speed of Thought [Remix]
7 Feelin' It
8 One Minute Less
9 Ain't It Good to You
10 Funky [Remix]
11 Give the Drummer Some
12 Break North
13 Critical Beatdown
14 When I Burn
15 Ced-Gee (Delta Force One)
16 Funky [Original 12"" Version][*]
17 Bait [Original 12"" Version][*]
18 Chorus Line [Original 12"" Version][*] - Tim Dog, Ultramagnetic MC's
19 Travelling at the Speed of Thought [Hip House Club Mix][*]
20 Ego Trippin' [Bonus Beats][*]
21 Mentally Mad [Original 12"" Version][*]"