Ultramagnetic MC's, "Traveling at the Speed of Thought"


The Ultramagnetic MC's were pioneers of hip hop in the late '80s: producer/MC Ced Gee, who'd spent a bit of his spare time creating beats for Boogie Down Productions' classic 1987 debut Criminal Minded, was one of the genre's early abstractionists, while Kool Keith -- later notoriously known as Dr. Octagon and currently pushing the bitterly funny Dr. Dooom 2 -- was revolutionary in his weirdness, coining an unpredictable and literally off-beat, stream-of-consciousness style that backpackers are still biting two decades later. If you haven't heard of them, it could be because they released their canonical debut album, Critical Beatdown, in a crowded 1988 -- which hip hop fans will acknowledge as possibly the most ridiculously great year for rap albums ever.

But let's turn the dial back one year to 1987, and the release of their single "Traveling at the Speed of Thought": after riding off the success of their '86 debut single "Ego Trippin'" and its '87 follow-up "Funky", the Ultramagnetic MC's got to the point where they felt confident in creating a music video with all the sci-fi special effect wizardry a late '80s independent rap label budget could handle. So you get lots of garish video effects and some odd costumes, including a parody of Slick Rick that looks like some sort of catfish-mantis-ant creature. There's also a visit from a pack of unsavory space-ladies; we know that they are unsavory because they are referred to by a helpful caption as "Skeezoids" and they're dressed like extras from Scandal's video for "The Warrior". But the Ultramagnetics also have a beat that combines Kraftwerk and Bambaataa with "Louie Louie," and lyrics that focus on creatively diabolical ways to ruin your head -- so the forces of wackness are pretty much helpless.