Bookended by Cats was named after Milo and Otis. They are the short, orange, and furry brothers who, upon entering our lives in 2003, often bookended us on our couch. And who are we? We're a geek couple living in PA. We love music, movies, TV, comics, books, and comic cons. And, from time to time, we'll share our thoughts on these nerdy things.

Friday, October 7, 2016

Friday 80s Flashback for October 7, 2016

[Critical Beatdown] -- I don't know much about hip hop, but I know what I like. Or, at least, I know what makes me tap my foot and nod my head to a beat(down). And, honestly, that's about what passes for dancing -- or replaces dancing -- in my book. Anyway, speaking of beatdowns, this week in 1988 (October 4 to be precise) saw the release of Ultramagnetic MCs' debut album, Critical Beatdown. You can be forgiven if you've never heard of Ultramagnetic MCs, which is likely the case if you're only a casual consumer of rap. I don't recall how I heard of them. My guess is someone introduced me this particular album. Or a single from it. So, some background for the uninitiated might be welcome here. Kool Keith, Ced Gee, and DJ Moe Love formed the Ultramagnetics in the Bronx in 1984. They recorded a demo of "Space Groove" that same year, but didn't release their first single, "To Give You Love," in 1986. On the strength of those recordings, and Kool Keith's personality, this crew picked up a record deal.

Their debut, Critical Beatdown, is the band's only 80s release (but they do have two releases in the 90s and a 2007 reunion album). Although their debut record did not chart very well, it has come to be highly regarded as a classic hip hop album. And these MCs were pioneers of sorts. According to All-Music, Ultramagnetic MC's can claim the following firsts: they were the first rap group to employ a sampler (the E-mu SP-1200) as an instrument, the first to feature extensive use of live instrumentation, and the first to feature a former psychiatric patient (the aforementioned Kool Keith) on the mic. For more info about this crew, you can visit The Unofficial Ultramagnetic MC's Website. And, for lyrical reference, you should check out the collection at

Now, instead of my usual format of selecting three tracks for focus, I'm sharing a YouTube playlist that has all 15 tracks from the original release of Critical Beatdown.

Let's spin some wax, shall we? 

"Say what, Peter Piper? | To hell with childish rhymes! | Cause this jam is just movin' | The crowd is steady groovin' | To a supersonic pace"

Well, that's all till next week. Dedicated 80s-philes can find more flashbacks in the Prophet or Madman archives or via Bookended's 80s Flashback tag. As always, your comments are welcome on today's, or any other, flashback post. And if you like what I'm doing here, please share the link with your friends. If, however, you don't like the flashback, feel free to share it with your enemies.

And if you are on Twitter, and feel so inclined, please +K my influence in Music on @klout.

I'll see you in seven!

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