New York, NY – Ultramagnetic MCs’ seminal 1988 debut Critical Beatdown paved the way in which for underground rap’s aesthetics of sample-based boom-bap manufacturing, unorthodox rhyme cadences with futuristic lyricism and absurdist humor.
In the 90s, the Bronx legends affect additionally stretched throughout Hip Hop when Kool Keith went solo along with his groundbreaking “various rap” venture Dr. Octagon and pornographic aspirations on Sex Style in 1997.
Meanwhile, British digital band The Prodigy propelled rave tradition and digital music into mainstream retailers akin to MTV and various rock radio stations throughout the Atlantic that very same 12 months.
The two acts had been mates and occasional collaborators and their viewers embraced Keith’s eccentric music. When The Prodigy’s longtime frontman tragically handed away on March four, many followers had Kool Keith’s memorable sampled lyric within 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 accomplice/co-producer Ced Gee about The Prodigy’s influence on Ultramagnetic MCs’ profession into 90s, Keith’s label drama with Sony over his album Black Elvis/Lost In Space 20 years in the past, and his profitable pompadour wigs.
Kool Keith & Ced Gee Explain Their Big Payday Collaborating With The Prodigy
How did you join with Keith Flint and The Prodigy once they sampled Ultramagnetic MCs’ “Give The Drummer Some” for his or her hit single “Smack My Bitch Up” in 1997?
Kool Keith: They had referred to as me up. Liam (Howlett of The Prodigy) was an amazing good friend anyway.
Ced Gee: Let me inform how he obtained his quantity. What occurred was they had been working with the president of Next Plateau [Records] Eddie O’ Loughlin on the time, he cleared the pattern, so Eddie mentioned, “Why don’t you simply do it contemporary with Keith?” Because I used to be working at Next Plateau on the time as the top of A&R and we gave them Keith’s quantity and that’s how the attain out turned. That’s how they began working collectively.
Did you may have any private connections with Keith Flint and the Prodigy past recording within the studio?
Kool Keith: Yeah, I did reveals with them when the file got here out. I did one or two reveals with them. One of them in New York and one other I believe in Melbourne, Australia. I used to be backstage with them and he was a cool individual. They had a whole lot of champagne, a whole lot of women and funky digital music. That was a pleasant tour on the market with them and for the primary time it was good that I had actual enjoyable with these guys. I believe Ced and I had been in Europe one time and likewise with [Kut Masta] Kurt and we went over to their label to speak another stuff and offers. But they had been at all times on the highway. I went over there to attempt to money a examine however couldn’t money it and it had Maverick (Records) on it.
That’s Madonna’s label Maverick. Why couldn’t you money it?
Ced Ged: He shouldn’t be a European citizen so that they’re not going to money that examine as a result of they’ll’t tax him. That’s why they’re seeking to deport 21 Savage. His inexperienced card ran out as a result of he’s been over right here caking up they usually can’t tax him, so he’s gotta go. Every nation desires to tax you and that’s why they ask you getting off the aircraft…
Kool Keith: I heard he obtained out of that. Does it present that he’s cleared now?
Ced Gee: No. That means he did a deal. Just such as you do a take care of the IRS, that imply’s he’s gonna pay taxes. That’s all they wished. There by no means actually was nothing apart from having him pay once they came upon his inexperienced card had run out for thus lengthy they usually had been like, “Look, you owe this. You both pay otherwise you go away.”
Kool Keith: Yeah, so anyway, we had been searching for the group [The Prodigy] they usually weren’t there. I by no means may catch them at dwelling. Keith Flint and people guys at all times had just like the bizarre haircuts and stuff like that.
Keith, the British industrial music scene appeared to uphold your music like on Dr. Octagon together with The Prodigy in 1997.
Kool Keith: They had one other album (Always Outnumbered, Never Outgunned) with the massive lips on it the place they sampled our stuff, too.
Ced Gee: Yeah, on the Warner ASCAP pattern statements however can’t keep in mind off hand. [Editor’s word: The songs that includes Kool Keith had been “Wake Up Call” and “You’ll Be Under My Wheels”]. It didn’t generate like “Smack My Bitch Up,” however nonetheless.
Kool Keith: “Smack My Bitch Up” was a sensational hit off The Fat Of The Land which offered over three million copies. We had licensed platinum plaques for that.
How large was your examine from the “Smack My Bitch Up” pattern?
Ced Gee: I used to be below a levy from the IRS at the moment. The “Smack My Bitch Up” pattern paid off the levy which was about $100,00zero. After it was over and all corrected, I nonetheless had $18,00zero. That’s how candy that was (Laughs). I obtained that, so think about what [the Ultramagnetic MCs] made.
Kool Keith: I by no means needed to run round to chase that cash and I used to be offered for nicely. And I hope that band didn’t break up, however Keith was such an vital individual because the lead singer within the band. That’s like Michael Jackson in Jackson 5, Kurt Cobain, so it’s form of onerous. Usually an individual goes lacking just like the drummer or the horn participant however once you obtained somebody like that’s Ron Isley within the Isley Brothers gone, the lead individual. He was the nucleus of that band.
Kool Keith Talks 20th Anniversaries of Dr. Dooom, “Black Elvis/Lost In Space” & His Wigs
This 12 months marks the 20th anniversary 12 months of your albums Dr. Dooom First Come/First Served and Black Elvis/Lost In Space, Keith. Can you discuss in regards to the artistic means of these albums and your try to get off your main label take care of Sony following the latter launch?
Kool Keith: What occurred was Sony took Black Elvis and was making an attempt to carry it on the shelf. So, Dr. Dooom was the mad model of Black Elvis, principally to be like grumbling. Being that they had been holding the album, I did one other album and that was Dr. Dooom as a result of I used to be getting mad within the ready course of and the mad individual like “Fuck that, I’m gonna this out as a result of Sony’s not placing out Black Elvis.” All the songs had been mad, nevertheless it was one other man with the identical wig. [Ced Gee laughs]
And I wasn’t restricted by a file firm. I put it out by means of Nu Groove [Records] within the Bay Area. I mentioned, “To hell with it, fuck it” and at the moment I felt like I created one other individual due to the key label state of affairs.
You labored with Kut Masta Kurt, Motion Man, and Jacky Jasper who had been all Bay Area artists on Dr. Dooom’s First Come/First Served.
Kool Keith: Yeah. When [Ultramagnetic MCs] first went to the Bay Area for the Jimmy Jam present, it was me, Ced, Moe and Trev, we had a present in Oakland and had been doing a little stuff in San Francisco, that was simply our life typically. And that’s when Dr. Dooom happened.
Ced Gee: That’s the way you connected with Kurt. We did a radio interview on the market.
Kool Keith: Yeah, Kurt was a fan.
Ced Gee: He had a school radio station present for him. And for Jimmy Jam, there was like an underground TV station that aired throughout Oakland and it was form of cool as a result of individuals had been calling in reside.
Let’s discuss that memorable Elvis pompadour wig. I heard an interview on Ed Lover’s radio present once you mentioned followers had been mad at you in the event that they didn’t see you put on it in public again then.
Kool Keith: Oh yeah! I imply that wig was making me $7,00zero an evening, so I couldn’t not love the wig. But it was simply onerous as a result of they didn’t know the protocol of the wig, taping it on with actual glue each evening, like actual cement glue on my sideburns. I had to make use of some form of stuff to get it off like benzene, stuff you employ to take away paint each evening and the wig was crammed with water inside from sweating and I needed to pour it out [Ced Gee laughs].
It was loopy. I had like three or 4 of them on the tour bus that I’d rotate. When Black Elvis got here out, the tour went on and reveals had been wall-to-wall packed and I couldn’t imagine that folks had been popping out to see this wig.
I recall you despatched out an e-mail e-newsletter to your followers urging them to jot down criticism letters or name up Sony’s workplace as a result of it didn’t correctly promote Black Elvis. [Ced Gee laughs]
Kool Keith: Oh, the e-mail blast. Quite a lot of it was that Sony held the album for a very long time and it was the up-top individuals and I had a pair mates like Rich Nice working there. I believe two completely different departments had been preventing over the album, the city division and the choice division. So that was the tug of warfare over the album. Rich Nice was saying that they didn’t know what division would work the album, and I’m like, “What?” He mentioned, “Yeah, they’re all making an attempt to decide.” It was form of numerous so that they didn’t know. They’re those who wished to do the album cowl like that with the futuristic factor, however I had initially deliberate it to be the city Black Elvis. They took it to extra of the outer house and the art work nevertheless it turned out good and basic for what it’s. It was only a confused advertising plan. It was really distributed by means of Ruffhouse.
You had Sadat X as a featured visitor on Black Elvis. For anybody who is aware of Hip Hop, that album ought to’ve been an urban-marketed album primarily based on that alone.
Kool Keith: Yeah, I referred to as him up as a result of I wanted yet another characteristic. We had Roger Troutman down there. Roger was loopy with the Vocoder and he mentioned, “Get me one other engineer,” so I had Joe The Butcher to combine the album, and he was like our uncle, proper, Ced?
Ced Gee: Yup!
Kool Keith & Ced Gee On Ultramagnetic MCs’ Early Connections To KRS-One & Public Enemy
What are the subsequent initiatives that you’ve slated for 2019?
Kool Keith: I simply did an album with Psycho Les (of The Beatnuts) that’s popping out. I obtained Paul Wall, Jeru The Damaja, Erick Sermon and B-Real from Cypress Hill on it. There’s some dope manufacturing and Psycho Les did the beats. It’s not like I did on Feature Magnetic nevertheless it sounds good as a result of The Beatnuts do all kind of beats for various individuals, however the album had been extra completely different than the individuals normally select. That ought to be proper across the nook subsequent month. Ced’s obtained an album and did stuff he wouldn’t usually do. I did a few songs with him.
Ced Gee: We attempt to perform a little little bit of all the things like he mentioned. Stuff that’s conventional however extra futuristic. We did lots of people that surprises individuals
Kool Keith: Stuff that gained’t put us in a field and sells vary.
Ced Gee: We go from outdated to new. We cowl all of the eras after which we go deep and additional than that.
Kool Keith: The album we name Ced Gee’s “Delta” however the level is that we did stuff that we needed to get away from completely different varieties of individuals and do on our personal. You need to go away from the music business who a whole lot of occasions says it’s important to keep at what you do. We needed to remove a whole lot of infections and go into the studio ourselves.
Ced Gee: We went again to the roots. That’s how we began with simply me and Keith after which introduced everyone alongside. Take it again to the place tear issues down and begin again up.
Kool Keith: We went by means of what a whole lot of teams undergo which was a whole lot of dictatorship and we needed to cease that early. Me and Ced had been the music engine of the group first as a result of all of the hits on [the Critical Beatdown album) like “Ego Trippin’” I obtained. “Funky” and “Give The Drummer Some,” [late engineer/producer] Paul C connected, however all the opposite data on the album had been nice, too, however Ced and me had the primary singles. Everybody else did their elements and Moe Love had “Moe Love Is On The Cut” and that was successful DJ file.
The most important basis from after we began was at all times me and Ced.
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@officialkoolkeith and Ced Gee became good friends with @paulcmckasty Paulie always said that Keith was the best MC he ever heard and Keith always surprised with the words he dropped. Photo credit: Anthony Singleton. HAPPY BIRTHDAY KEITH!! #paulc #paulcthemovie #koolkeith #superloverceeandcasanovarud #markthe45king #princepo #pharoahemonch #queenlatifah #breakbeatlou #koolgrap #stezo #bizmarkie #ultramagneticmcs #ericbandrakim #organizedkonfusion #jacopastorius #largeprofessor #hiphop #rap #oldschoolhiphop #sp12 #sp1200 #film #producer #engineer #newyorkcity #mikeyd #mf911
Ced, your primal affect on sampling James Brown and drum programming in your manufacturing within the mid-80s when Ultramagnetic MCs took off isn’t talked about sufficient. This goes in your affect on Boogie Down Productions and Public Enemy’s beats. You and Keith had been additionally in P.E.’s “Black Steel In The Hour Of Chaos” video.
Ced Gee: Oh yeah, there was an actual hearth at that video shoot.
Really? How’d that occur?
Kool Keith: (Laughs) Ced, how did the hearth begin?
Ced Gee: It was throughout the riot scene of the video. They lit a match to catch hearth and that shit simply caught onto all the things else. We had been operating round pretending like we had been preventing, it was enjoyable. Then they had been like “Yo! We gotta get out, there’s an actual hearth!” They shut the video down for some time and the hearth division needed to are available in. Me, Keith and [Flavor] Flav began snapping whereas they had been cleansing up. It was in an outdated deserted jail in Staten Island.
Boogie Down Productions even talked about you of their liner notes of Criminal Minded. Legend has it that KRS-One was previously named MC Larry G in an early version of Ultramag. Is that true?
Ced Gee: Nah, the factor was that Kris may’ve been a member of Ultramagnetic, identical to Keith may’ve been an early member of BDP as a result of we had been all working collectively. That’s what that was. Everybody was over on the crib to do issues, and it was extra Keith than Kris for Ultramagnetic. Out of the entire batch of MCs, Keith and Kris had been the very best. So it merged all the way down to Scott [La Rock] taking Kris from the individuals he was dealing after which Keith from the individuals he was coping with to make the issues develop to the extent the place they’d be appreciated for his or her skills.
That’s what occurred.
Kool Keith: Right.