In October of ’88, the venerable Ultramagnetic MC’s advanced first-generation hip hop with their landmark debut, Critical Beatdown, a singular new-school rap classic that swapped the era’s popular blueprint of simple rhyme schemes and common deliveries for deft, dense flows and off-kilter lyrics. The early Bronx-banger LP (which was oh-so-close to featuring KRS-One as a group member), is a key marker of the genre’s second chapter, an era that found Slick Rick, De La Soul, and Rakim also cracking the block-party rap mold.

Ultramagnetic are also widely credited as the first hip hop group to use a sampler as an instrument, rather than just a simple rhythm tool. Founding

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