They have one of the most unforgettable names in Hip-Hop and have made some of the most notable and important songs in the 34-year history of recorded Rap music. They are called Ultramagnetic MC’s and 25 years ago they released one of Rap’s greatest and most influential albums, Critical Beatdown.
Ced Gee was well known in The Bronx going back to the old Mastermind Productions days when Ced’s older brother Pat used to work with KRS One’s original crew The Celebrity Three. They at first used an SP 12 but things changed when Ced Gee’s mom bought him an SP 1200, and he soon mastered that machine and used it to produce numerous classics for what would be one of Hip-Hop’s seminal albums.
What we tend to forget are Ced Gee’s contributions to two of the greatest Rap albums ever in Boogie Down Productions’ Criminal Minded and Eric B. & Rakim’s Paid In Full. Since both of these albums dropped before the SP1200 was even released in the summer of 1987, Ced instead used the SP 12 his brother employed when he made beats for these LPs.
The Ultramagnetic MC’s wanted to take the feel of the old school but elaborate on the concentration on lyrics, vocabulary, patterns, cadences and flow that Grandmaster Caz, Treacherous Three, T La Rock and later MCs introduced to the landscape of Rap. When the group landed a deal with Next Plateau Records in 1986 they knew they were onto something when their initial single “Ego Trippin'” became one of the hottest songs in all of Rap, rivaling even “Eric B. For President/My Melody” and MC Shan’s “The Bridge” for popularity in New York. As Ced Gee became more and more in demand and Ultramagnetic acquired a label situation, the original Mastermind Productions set up soon was converted to what was called the Ultra Lab. It was here that the next two singles “Funky/Mentally Mad” and “Traveling At The Speed Of Thought/MC Ultra (Part II)” were constructed and later released to a rabid fanbase to overwhelming response in 1987.
Ultramagnetic MC’s was comprised of Kool Keith, Ced Gee and DJ Moe Love, then later TR Love. Kool Keith and Ced Gee went to high school together and became B-Boys down with New York City Breakers and the Brooklyn based People’s Choice Crew which Moe Luv was also in. After seeing many of their neighborhood friends and associates form crews and gain success in Rap (Cold Crush Brothers, Dana Dane, Just-Ice, KRS One, etc.) they decided it was time to throw their hats in the ring and record demos. The combination of Kool Keith’s abstract lyricism and off the wall metaphor and the power and conviction of Ced Gee’s futuristic delivery over the latter’s SP1200 beats made for classic material time and time again. The Rap world had no choice but to notice Ultra as they performed regularly at Latin Quarter, Union Square, The Rooftop and any other venue where Rap was welcome and flourished during the late 80’s in New York City.
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Photo: Next Plateau