Ugly ducklings are synonymous with an image of a loner, a
weakling, the prototypical ugly and unwanted duckling who may become a swan.
But the group Ugly Duckling is a testament to focus, longevity
and a steady demand from their fans. Their history points back to 1993, when
the trio, made up of Dizzy Dustin, Young Einstein and Andy
made Long Beach the would-be the setting for their alternative
clash with Hip Hop, a new and untested mixture. While their sound is reminiscent
of groups like A Tribe Called Quest and Jurassic 5,
they also claim their roots from James Brown, the three emcees
have been long-standing proof that the tired and clichéd image of gangs, guns
and drugs isn’t what hip-hop has to be about. Their newest release certainly
will leave you feeling as though you actually got more Bang For The Buck,
but from lyrics and production rather than fire-power.

Celebrating finding a new home after their four albums thus far were released
on four separate imprints, their new home, Fat Beats, is all
about the independent artists who have long been fans and customers of the
record store. Released alongside acts like Lord Finesse, El
Da Sensei
and Rob Swift, the UD camp
is finally unleashing the cuts that have made them a household name in the
independent Hip Hop realm. Their early talents pointed to their love of classic
breaks, jazzy horn riffs and an indelible funk bloodstream. But critics have
always been quick to point out the groups’ most long-standing problem – the
fact that their music will most likely be categorized as cheery throwback music
dedicated to the late 80s.

The entire album bumps from the tenured hands of producer and DJ, Young
, his own personal track “Einstein’s On Stage” is proof positive
that the old boom-bap productions of the past are still relative to the times
of music now. While production on the album seems to be the standout talent on
this album, Dizzy Dustin and Andy Cooper do
their best to let the critics have it and keep their fans happy as well on the
lyrical side. The feel good attitude that their music usually inspires takes a
backseat to the artists more party-like atmosphere on this album.

Critics may still not appreciate the group as a whole and their overall
message, but in this day and age, getting more bang for you buck doesn’t
necessarily constitute a group re-inventing itself (Destiny’s Child),
adding new members (Fergie), selling out (50)
or creating “marketing” beef (Game & 50). The Ugly
album Bang for The Buck does represent an unseen
trend of keeping consistent with your fans expectations rather than going with
“what works” in the rest of the industry. Criticism of the group will continue,
but so will the growth of their fan base from honest music lovers in the
independent and mainstream territories.