UGLY DUCKLING – Three of A Kind



ANDY COOPER interviewed @ 18:00 AEST – Tuesday 29th July, 2010
For Street Press Australia & Rip2Shredz Press

Images courtesy of Oleg Pulemjotov

[Full Q & A with The UGLY DUCKLING]

Picture three hip hoppers who came together in 1993, straight outta Long Beach, California, just two MCs and one DJ rocking a gold chain – and you still won’t come close to pinning the tail on the donkey. At an era where hip hop’s balance of power had shifted coasts down a lecherous path of hardcore reality rap, an ardent group became set on bringing back that pure ether of hip hop. True artisans of rap, Ugly Duckling continue their forthrightness and steadfast resistance to sell their collective soul for the dangling carrot.

UD wrapped their hands around the jugular of gangsta rap, personified in the 213 area code of Long Beach by a pack of Doggs from the Pound, iconic earth shakers who brought about a change in current to the flow of hip hop. Dizzy Dustin, Young Einstein and Andy Cooper grew up through the growing pains of the most explosive rap scene, yet continued theirs down a more purist path.

“Truth told, we were cordially friendly with those guys. Dizzy and Warren G were class-mates and Snoop Dogg went to my senior prom,” Cooper modestly name drops. Aside from possibly sharing Gym teachers, the UD trio shared no other common ground with them. “That said, it was nice to see people from Long Beach succeed. There was some excitement and inspiration when they made it big.”

Underground and indie to a fault, these white-bred teens found it incredibly hard to find light from out of their shadow. Devoid of Grammys or platinum plaques, their material is just as threatening, only clouded in murky conscious and satirical wit over musically dug-deep records.

“At that time, we were surrounded by gangsta music and it made having a career in the mid-90s impossible. That’s why it took us until the late 90s to officially get a record out,” Cooper admits. “We put one out on our own in ‘96 but it did nada.”

Autosave-File vom d-lab2/3 der AgfaPhoto GmbH

Fresh Mode came out in ‘99 and Ugly Duckling followed up with Journey To Anywhere at the 21st turn, their first LP. They have always flown to their own formation, and their sixth and latest album says it all in the name – Audacity.

“The most important component of achievement is believing, whether justifiably or unjustifiably, that you belong at the top,” Cooper explains. “Many people in history who made it big were short on talent but long on nerve. A certain man in the most powerful position in the world who has a funny name, little experience and a non-traditional background who charmed the entire world’s pants off with uplifting speeches. I hope he does well with that audacity.”

Producer Einstein trends through Golden Era records to reach a more conscious state of mind to rhyme to. Cooper notes the band’s influences from A Tribe Called Quest, De La SoulRun DMC and Special Ed.

“We loved the Native Tongue groups because they made the coolest, funkiest sample-based music and had creative songwriting style as well. In fact, Black Sheep, on their debut album, created great music and great music from any era will always be our motivation.” During the making of ‘Einstein Do It’ off the latest album, an insurmountable amount of records were harmed in showcasing the legend flex his dexterity on the Technics. “Somewhere around 120 to 140 if you count all of the samples and scratches; my hands are still sore,” Einstein quips. “It’s clearly the best song on the album because it’s about me. Seriously, we love to incorporate scratching into our songs in a way that you don’t hear as much anymore.”

Einstein closes by flipping off the audacity of the lifestyles of the rich and famous. “I can’t wait to finish this so I can go hop in my winged, Bentley/Ferrari hybrid and fly down to the club for champagne and back-rubs from Shirley Temple’s great-granddaughter.”

[Full Q & A with The UGLY DUCKLING]


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