Ultramagnetic MC's Biography

This Bronx, New York, USA-based four-piece rap troupe incorporated the best traditions of jazz and funk in their polished, rhythmic style. Having worked with Boogie Down Productions’ KRS-One among many others, the Ultramagnetic MC’s earned their reputation at the forefront of rap, pioneering the use of the sampler in hip-hop. They comprised Maurice Smith (aka Moe Love; DJ), Keith Thornton (aka Kool Keith; lead MC), Trevor Randolph (aka T.R. Love; rapper and co-producer) and Cedric Miller (aka Ced Gee; MC and co-producer). The quartet emerged from posses such as The People’s Choice Crew and New York City Breakers just as Kool Herc and Afrika Bambaataa’s work saw hip-hop break cover. Their own backgrounds could be traced to underground basement clubs like the Audobon Ballroom, Sparkle and the Back Door.

The quartet’s 1988 debut served as a direct influence on the ‘Daisy Age’ rap of subsequent acts such as De La Soul and P.M. Dawn, although those bands subsequently left Ultramagnetic MC’s trailing in their commercial wake. Singles such as ‘Give The Drummer Some’ (from which, nine years later, English techno pioneers the Prodigy would sample their controversial ‘smack my bitch up’ lyric) showed them in their best light: call-and-response raps demonstrating individual members’ self-espoused talent in the best traditions of the old school. They were not always so dextrous, however. While Funk Your Head Up included the excellent single cut, ‘Poppa Large’, it also housed the appalling ‘Porno Star’. On The Four Horsemen, and its attendant singles, ‘Two Brothers With Checks (San Francisco, Harvey)’ and ‘Raise It Up’, the quartet unveiled an ‘intergalactic hip-hop’ concept, and a new methodology (notably Kool Keith rhyming in double-speak on ‘One, Two, One, Two’). More down to earth was ‘Saga Of Dandy, The Devil & Day’, an account of the Negro baseball league co-written with historian James Reilly.

Following the Ultramagnetic MC’s split, Ced Gee and T.R. Love offered their production skills to several artists including Boogie Down Productions’ landmark Criminal Minded, as well as Tim Dog’s infamous ‘Fuck Compton’. Keith collaborated with the Prodigy and set up his own Funky Ass label, recording under a variety of monikers including Dr. Octagon, Dr. Dooom, Poppa Large, the Reverend Tom, Sinister 6000, Big Willie Keith and Mr. Gerbik. The quartet performed a reunion show in 1997.

Source: The Encyclopedia of Popular Music by Colin Larkin. Licensed from Muze.

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