Ugly Duckling

    Taste the Secret

    5
    Emperor Norton - June 17, 2003

    How many perfectly serviceable hip-hop records suffer from stupid fucking sketches? I first came to know old-school revivalists Ugly Duckling through the title track on their 2002 release, Journey to Anywhere, on the excellent Funky Precedent compilation. (Remember when the Black Eyed Peas were bearable?) It was a fresh number, with an eerie piano sample and lyrics recalling kid’s games and early ’80s cartoons. And Taste the Secret has several good tracks, including the clever first joint “Opening Act” and the jazzier horn riffs of “Abagail Silk.” But the album’s overriding concept about competing fast-food spots called Veggie Hut and Meat Shake is funny for about ninety seconds. The idea of a drink made purely from meat sounds disgusting, to be sure, but by the fifteenth track’s final conflict between the lesbian vegetarian army and the Meat Shake lackeys, I’d had about enough.

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