If you're like me, prior to picking up this LP you knew very little about Ugly Duckling. I went and did a little research about the group. Ugly Duckling consist of three guys; Andy Cooper, Dizzy Dust and Young Einstein. The group formed late 1993 and released an independent 12" in 1997 before signing to their record label 1500 Records. They then, in 1999, released the 'Fresh Mode' EP, which although I've heard a couple of times, I never really paid much attention to it, that was a dumb move.
As I threw (well, placed) this CD in my system, I found myself shocked to hear a very well put together introduction (or 'Introduckling'). The beats created a very enjoyable feel, and the rhymes sat nicely above them. Because of being pulled into the vibe by the introduction, I found myself waiting to hear more and damn, I got what I wanted.
Ugly Duckling are by no means ugly (in a musical sense), they're very much smooth and on point. Brilliant beats with attached crisply cool vibes flood the CD. The first properly acclaimed track 'I Did It Like This,' had me hooked. The music and hook are amazing, I'm not saying the lyrics aren't, but because of the immense presence of the music, the lyrics become recessive and they could even be spitting words insulting my family, I wouldn't notice or care the music is so good. Then, as if I wasn't on a good enough non-drug induced high, 'Journey To Nowhere' kicks in. Andy flows brilliantly, and the beats are just plain lovely.
The music tones and subjects range, from 'Pick Up Lines,' which features rhymes about pick up lines as you'd guess, and goes upon that sort of a vibe, to 'Rock On Top,' which has a nice chime influenced beat and a cool feel to it, over to 'A Little Samba' which as you can guess has a samba influenced beat/feel to it. And there's also 'Eye On The Gold Chain,' which feels very Jurassic 5-ish. Had I not been extremely familiar with the voices of J5, I could well have mistaken it for one of their cuts. The beats and scratching are on point...and the rhymes aren't too bad either.
There is room for improvement...lyrically. The lyrics here aren't bad, they're just not that brilliant. The beats and hooks are consistently on point and very enjoyable, but as I've said before, you need lyrics too to make things complete.
Having only briefly heard Ugly Duckling's 'Fresh Mode' EP, I didn't really have much knowledge or experience when it comes down to Ugly Duckling material. What I was met with I sure as hell did not expect. Ugly Duckling provide a brilliant, enjoyable Hip Hop vibe which I haven't heard in a while. Intense, high volume, bumpy beats, scratching elements and nice (usually) lyrics meet one another and combine to form enjoyable head-bopping experiences, check this release out.