Ultramagnetic MC's - Critical Beatdown (1988) [Remastered 2004]

01. Watch Me Now (4:47)
02. Ease Back (3:24)
03. Ego Trippin' (Original 12'' Version) (5:26)
04. Moe Luv's Theme (2:14)
05. Kool Keith Housing Things (3:15)
06. Travelling At The Speed Of Thought (Remix) (1:51)
07. Feelin' It (3:31)
08. One Minute Less (1:58)
09. Ain't It Good To You (3:33)
10. Funky (Remix) (3:40)
11. Give The Drummer Some (3:43)
12. Break North (3:24)
13. Critical Beatdown (3:42)
14. When I Burn (2:32)
15. Ced-Gee (Delta Force One) (2:49)
16. Funky (Original 12'' Version) (4:47)
17. Bait (Original 12'' Version) (4:26)
18. A Chorus Line (Original 12'' Version) (Feat. Tim Dog) (6:04)
19. Travelling At The Speed Of Thought (Hip House Club Mix) (4:22)
20. Ego Trippin' (Bonus Beats) (1:11)
21. Mentally Mad (Original 12'' Version) (5:05)

Besides being an undeniable hip-hop classic, the first album by the cult crew Ultramagnetic MC's introduced to the world the larger-than-life, one-of-a-kind personality of Kool Keith. That alone would make this some sort of landmark recording, but it also happens to be one of the finest rap albums from the mid- to late-'80s "new school" in hip-hop that numbered among its contributors Run-D.M.C., Public Enemy, and Boogie Down Productions. Critical Beatdown easily stands with the classic recordings made by those giants, and it is, in some ways, more intriguing because of how short-lived Ultramagnetic turned out to be. It would be wrong to assume that the finest thing about the album is its lyrical invention. Lyrically the group is inspired, to be sure, but the production is equally forward-looking. Critical Beatdown is full of the sort of gritty cuts that would define hip-hop's underground scene, with almost every song sounding like an instant classic. Although he turns in a brilliant performance, Kool Keith had not yet taken completely off into the stratosphere at this early point. He still has at least one foot planted on the street and gives the album a viscerally real feel and accessibility that his later work sometimes lacks. His viewpoint is still uniquely and oddly individual, though, and he already shows signs of the freakish conceptualizing persona that would eventually surface fully under the guise of Dr. Octagon. If Kool Keith gives the album its progressive mentality and adrenaline rush, Ced-Gee gives it its street-level heft and is, in many ways, the album's core. Somewhere in the nexus between the two stylistic extremes, brilliant music emanated. Critical Beatdown maintains all its sharpness and every ounce of its power, and it has not aged one second since 1988.
mp3 @ VBR / Lame 3.98 / Avg. 267 kbps / 142 mb