THE INCREDIBLE SHRINKING BAND-A Degradation Theory

"...my music is perfect, you could go back to Beethoven and s***, but as far as this lifetime, though, this is all you got." -Kanye West Since the Second Industrial Age began in the late 19th century, human civilization has been continuously shaped and reshaped by notable advancements in technology. With every relevant invention or improved method of production, merchants scurried for the latest competitive edge while their customers rushed the market in search of Read more

ROOM TO BREATHE (Chase The Sample Super-Mix)

Wooooooooo, this is fun!  When it comes to music, I love taking a concept as far as it can go, so the 'Room To Breathe (Chase the Sample Super-Mix)' is a perfect example of my arguably unhealthy obsession with developing a good theme to its full conclusion.  In the past, it was 'Meatshake' or 'Einstein Buys a Monkey' but in 2016, I came up with the idea of singling out an element from my Read more

ROOM TO BREATHE-The Free LP

I am very pleased to announce that Unique Records will be releasing my first ever solo album 'ROOM TO BREATHE-The Free LP'.  This record contains ten, high-velocity, Hip-Hop tracks for listeners who enjoy intricate, action-packed rhyming skill showcased over fresh loops and funky drums.  Lyrically, I pushed myself as far as I could go with regard to style, pace and feel and the result, in my untrustworthy opinion, is a seriously cool collection of Read more

ROOM TO BREATHE-The Free LP

Posted on by andycooper in RAP RELATED, THE FREE EP | 1 Comment

room to breathe coverI am very pleased to announce that Unique Records will be releasing my first ever solo album ‘ROOM TO BREATHE-The Free LP’.  This record contains ten, high-velocity, Hip-Hop tracks for listeners who enjoy intricate, action-packed rhyming skill showcased over fresh loops and funky drums.  Lyrically, I pushed myself as far as I could go with regard to style, pace and feel and the result, in my untrustworthy opinion, is a seriously cool collection of material.  Along with my own production work, I had help from Jungle Josh and Young Einstein on a few numbers, plus, I got excellent tracks off an up-and-coming UK duo called ‘The Allergies’ and my good friends, the ‘True Beatz Crew’ from Berlin. 

Speaking of good friends from Germany, I need to mention that this project really got started when my old pal Henry Storch who, for years, ran the Unique Club in Dusseldorf and maintains a funk label with the same moniker, heard these songs and excitedly proclaimed to me, “This music needed to be out on vinyl!”-who am I to argue with a insistent German?  A few weeks later, my lovely wife Tina snapped a photo of me trying to act aloof and we sent them off to a talented artist named Christian ‘Chrispop’ Beermann who crafted a vibrantly colorful jacket, I couldn’t be more pleased with the design.  And now we’re off!!!

Let me give you the lowdown on the songs… Read more

UGLY DUCKLING AND THE BOTTOM LINE

Posted on by andycooper in ANDY'S ANGLE, RAP RELATED, THE UGLY (DUCKLING) TRUTH | 41 Comments

Not long ago, a guy named Matthias contacted EARTOTHETRACK.NET and requested that I write a column about the difficult realities of surviving (I don’t use that word jokingly) as a small-time musical outfit like Ugly Duckling.  Normally, I would stay a mile away from a topic like this because, for me, it’s difficult to imagine that any reader would find a nominal

u.d. backstage

Ugly Duckling backstage in 2014. We, of course, demand gigantic guitar tuning pegs to be mounted in all of our dressing rooms

Hip-Hop group’s struggles compelling or entertaining.  In fact, I generally assume that most people take an interest in music with the intended purpose of escaping their own daily drudgery, not to empathize with the plight of working-class Rap acts who are, at the very least, chasing their dreams and avoiding 9-to-5’s.  Plus, it must be recognized that no authentic aspiring artists (with the possible exception of Gene Simmons) ever joined a band expecting to become wealthy.  We may have fantasized about the gratifying thrill of an audience’s approval and a bit of adventure, but any actual musician’s earliest hope and plea was to simply make a living doing music.  With that clearly stated, it would, in my opinion, be pathetic and condescending to write anything that came across as whiny or ungracious but, in this case, I’ll share some of my more challenging band experiences for, if nothing else, the sake of Matthias’s interest…

 

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WHAT IS HIP-HOP AND WHY ARE WE STILL DOING IT?

Posted on by andycooper in RAP RELATED, THE UGLY (DUCKLING) TRUTH | 13 Comments
Ugly Duckling on stage at Brixton Academy in London

UD on stage at Brixton Academy (photo by Nick Sayers)

As Ugly Duckling prepares to embark on another European tour, I can’t help but wonder why three 40-year old men, and the audiences who come to see our show, continue to participate in a youth culture like Hip-Hop.  First off, I think we need to establish what ‘Hip-Hop’ actually is because, throughout the history of Rap music, B-boys and girls have generally disagreed about the fundamental definition of the genre.  Whether arguments have revolved around “Being basic”, “Keeping it real”, “Holding it down” or acting “2 legit 2 quit”, there has never, to my knowledge, been a true consensus on Hip-Hop authenticity.  Is Rap for everybody or strictly a Black art-form?  Is it gold teeth and over-sized T-shirts or tight pants and funny haircuts?  Making mad money or staying underground?  Civilizing the dumb, deaf and blind or deftly slapping the dumb until they’re blind?  Difficult distinctions indeed.  But I do believe that there are certain ties that bind all of us in the world of Hip-Hop and I would like to present five of them here… Read more

MY AFTERNOON AS A STAR: Ugly Duckling on ‘Top of the Pops’

Posted on by andycooper in RAP RELATED, THE UGLY (DUCKLING) TRUTH | 5 Comments
TOTP

I’ve got my passport and fifty dollars in that silly pouch around my neck

Recently, when I writing about Jimmie Nicol* and his strange experience as a temporary Beatle in 1964, it reminded me of a time when I, very briefly, was thrust into the unlikely position of Pop-Idol. In June of 1999, Ugly Duckling (the silly, hip-hop band of which I am a member) was given the opportunity to gig around Western Europe for 2 months as the opening act for rap legends ‘The Jungle Brothers’.  At this point in time, Rod, Dustin and I had never taken part in a musical tour and none of us, aside from brief, depressing trips across the Mexican border, had actually left the United States so, as one might imagine, we were very excited and completely out of our depth.  None the less, we over-packed our needlessly large suitcases and boarded a ‘Virgin Atlantic’ flight from LA to London with grand expectations on our minds and newly printed passports in our hands…

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“BLOWIN’ UP LIKE YOU THOUGHT I WOULD”: Hip-Hop and Jihad

Posted on by andycooper in ANDY'S ANGLE, RAP RELATED | Leave a comment
JIHAD CARTOON

My attempt at political cartooning after the Charlie Hebdo massacre

Since the stunning events of September 11, 2001, there has been a passionate and ongoing, political debate with regard to radical Islam and terrorism.  Despite Western attempts to combat and subdue the efforts of Islamic terror factions, these groups appear to be growing stronger and more resolute in their ambitions.  As the battle lines in this war are being drawn and redrawn, observers in Europe and America have been surprised by the large number of Western youths who’ve decided to abandon their home countries to fight on the side of groups like ‘The Taliban’, ‘Hamas’, ‘Al Qaeda’, ‘Hezbollah’ and, moving up the charts on their way to number one, ‘ISIS’.  Interestingly, many of these highly motivated mujahedeen have emerged from Hip-Hop-influenced backgrounds and some were actually pursuing careers in Rap Music.  After the attacks on the ‘Charlie Hebdo’ offices in Paris, I learned that one of the suspected gunmen (Cherif Kouachi) was once an aspiring Hip-Hop vocalist until he, at some point, quit rapping to begin his war on cartoons.  With this in mind, I’d like to shine the spotlight on a handful of young men who have put down their microphones and picked up balaclavas; I’m calling them ‘THE FURIOUS FIVE’…

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TOP FIVE RAP PERFORMANCES BY NON-RAPPING WHITE PEOPLE

Posted on by andycooper in RAP RELATED | Leave a comment

Recently, I’ve read more than a few opinions about the legitimacy and integrity of White, Hip-Hop artists like Iggy Azalea and Macklemore.  In all honesty, I find the subject tiresome and ridiculous; its music, either you make good songs or you don’t.  What I do find interesting is non-rapping White artists who, for whatever reason, stumbled into a pseudo-rap verse and made history.  Why do I find this interesting? I’m not sure… Read more

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