By Dana Scott • March 15, 2019
Ultramagnetic MCs’ seminal 1988 debut Critical Beatdown paved the way for underground rap’s aesthetics of sample-based boom-bap production, unorthodox rhyme cadences with futuristic lyricism and absurdist humor.
In the 90s, the Bronx legends influence also stretched across Hip Hop when Kool Keith went solo with his groundbreaking “alternative rap” project Dr. Octagon and pornographic aspirations on Sex Style in 1997.
Meanwhile, British electronic band The Prodigy propelled rave culture and electronic music into mainstream outlets such as MTV and alternative rock radio stations across the Atlantic that same year.
The two acts were friends and occasional collaborators and their audience embraced Keith’s eccentric music. When The Prodigy’s longtime frontman tragically passed away on March 4, many fans had Kool Keith’s memorable sampled lyric in the group’s multi-platinum single “Smack My Bitch Up” from their breakthrough third album The Fat Of The Land.
We talked with Kool Keith and his 30-plus-year rhyme partner/co-producer Ced Gee about The Prodigy’s impact on Ultramagnetic MCs’ career into 90s, Keith’s label drama with Sony over his album Black Elvis/Lost In Space 20 years ago, and his lucrative pompadour wigs.