Ugly Duckling

Ugly Duckling

Taste the Secret

Emperor Norton

The members of Long Beach, CA-based rap trio Ugly Duckling apparently met some ten years ago behind the counter at “Meatshake,” an absurd fast food chain devoted to stuffing meat in every single one of their products. That’s counting the milkshake, people. It all sounds like another lame band bio, but sadly, Meatshake seems to be the real deal. Reality kicks fiction’s butt once again. Check for your local dealer.

So anyway, Taste the Secret, Ugly Duckling’s second full-length disc is loosely based around the concept of Meatshake and their hated next-door neighbor, the Veggie Hut (now, I’m pretty sure they made that part up). It’s a battle of red meat versus beans, hunting versus meditation, trailer park versus hippie mentality. It’s funny stuff, very entertaining and extremely silly. And then some.

Building on the upbeat mid-’90s rap scene that spawned them, this is as far removed from West Coast gangsta as you could possibly hope to get, favoring sarcastic wit over violent posturing, unafraid of using humor to communicate protest and insight. Sure, it’s all very silly, but Ugly Duckling don’t ram their concept down your throat, and instead go about business with subtle style and brains. The rapping’s not too technically demanding and the rhythms are pretty basic, but the trio knows how to sprinkle their music with tasteful whimsy all the while maintaining a steady beat.

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