Artist: Ugly DucklingTitle: Taste the SecretRating: 4 StarsReviewed by: Toshi Kondo
For anyone who began listening to hip-hop recently, the structure and cohesion of Ugly Ducklings Taste The Secret will be an exotic treat. With many of todays hip-hop albums offering an obese amount of guest features and producers, most resemble a compilation rather than a cohesive album. In contrast, Ugly Duckling (UD)s Dizzy Dustin, Andy Cooper and producer Young Einstein concoct a healthy mix of random skits, recurring themes, and thought-provoking material that mainly focuses on Meat Shake, the fast-food restaurant where they all met.
It is of utmost importance that the first couple of listens to this album be done from start-to-finish. Otherwise some tracks may strike the listener as silly and somewhat pointless. Opening Act sets the mood perfectly for the albums vibe with Dizzy and Andy trading self-deprecating references to their experiences opening shows over a piano loop that sounds like it was sampled from an old Charlie Chaplin film.
Progressing through the album, listeners will appreciate UDs penchant for not taking themselves too seriously and poking fun at some of the most clichéd aspects of hip-hop in an intelligent and humorous manner. Whether mocking the influx of studio gangsters (Mr. Tough Guy) or verbally washing out the mouths of MCs who curse (Potty-Mouth), UD doesnt come off as elitist or pretentious.
They display a more serious side on La Revolucion where Dizzy and Andy fantasize about revolting against the commercialization and exploitation of hip-hop. Einstein endorses the revolution with a blaring two-bar horn loop and occasionally switching up the beat. The incredible chemistry between Dizzy and Andy is evident here as they seamlessly integrate their verses in a back and fourth manner reminiscent of classic old school hip-hop.
The most enjoyable part of Taste The Secret has to be the three tracks that (MeatShake, The Drive-Thru, and The Confrontation) build upon each other and climax with a heated debate between a MeatShake server and Brianna, the vegan manager of the competing franchise Veggie Burger. Attempts to describe the hilarious exchange that takes place here would be an injustice.
If UD ever got the eleemosynary [look it up] desire to inculcate other artists on how to make a good album, the quality of hip-hop released would probably quadruple. They prove my contention that those diagnosing hip-hop as being terminally ill need to be slapped with malpractice lawsuits. Taste The Secret proves that good hip-hop albums still exist.