Journey To Anywhere
Record label: Emperor Norton
Format: 2xCD
Release date: 28 May 2002

I think it was 1999 when Ugly Duckling dropped the Fresh Mode EP. From the get-go, their rhymes and beats showed and proved that Andycat, Dizzy Dustin, and Young Einstein wanted to get back to an earlier era in hip-hop. In the fall of 2000, their first album Journey To Anywhere hit the streets. Unfortunately for them, their record label went belly up three months after the album was released. Thankfully, Emperor Norton has swooped in to re-release this gem. The CD reissue comes as a double-pack: one CD containing the entire album, the second featuring some bonus treats. CD2 is a seven-track EP of new joints and remixes. Props to Emperor Norton for bringing this joint to the surface again, and 'nuff respect to my man tonypuma for sending in the following review the first time around… {macedonia}

Every time I say the name of this group, I hear the echo of people who don't know saying "Who?" I know, the name isn't exactly what you'd expect from a hip-hop act, but this white trio from Long Beach is more about the roots of rap than one would expect.
Cred-Builder 1.01 - I first heard about these guys in an ancient sidebar article in URB about the beat digging Drum Majors (of whom DJ Young Einstein is a member). The production here is the most upfront of all, providing a relaxed and sometimes somber bed for two cats who smile through their rhymes. It's clearly the product of that cat who asks to wash their hands before leaving the record store. Plenty of loops, punched samples, cuts and breaks that you haven't heard before fill in all the cracks here. The vocals are mostly light topics, but UD is hardly trying to be the left coast M.O.P. The "fresh mode" vended here is 1/3 old Prince Paul, 1/3 Fresh Prince, and 1/3 old DITC production. References to Tetris, Judy Blume and old Billy Crystal schtick are wrenched in between borrowed lines from Audio 2, Double Trouble and Public Enemy. So they're bringing the fun, light-hearted vibe that flourished 9-12 years ago with that snap of jazz in the mix. And more often than not, it really works.

The result is a PG-rated head nod that will either confuse you with their lack of stress or have you back in high school. And yes, give it up to these cats for lyrically checking names like the Beastie Boys AND still making tracks with a point and purpose. Music historians take note - this rap thing is so big at this point that people like UD are making rap music about growing up with rap music. This might be a cultural swim upstream, but it's a successful one.


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