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Big Time

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Album Review

One of Kool Keith's first projects following the breakup of the Ultramagnetic MCs, Ultra teamed the legendary eccentric with MCs associate Tim Dog (by then the subject of cult adoration for his gonzo near-classic Penicillin on Wax) and up-and-coming producer/DJ Kutmasta Kurt. Their lone album to date, Big Time went woefully underexposed upon its release due to frankly awful distribution (its subsequent reissue has partly rectified the problem). It's become something of the Holy Grail of the Kool Keith catalog, owing mostly to its rarity. But the real reason to track it down is that it's pretty damn solid almost all the way through. Parts are as gleefully vulgar as you'd expect (and, perhaps, hope) from a Tim Dog/Kool Keith collaboration, although it's a little disappointing that the two don't interact all that much; in fact, there's a surprising number of basically solo tracks. But they actually hang together pretty well, not just because of both MCs' taste for the explicit, but also their mutual frustration with the fakeness of the record business. It's an overarching theme for much of the album, and reaches its apex in the blistering "Industry Is Wak," which features (among other rants) Tim Dog's tough but fair perspective on the Dre/Snoop beef of years past. It's not all negative, though; the title cut is a G-funk-tinged player's anthem, while "Fat Lady" and "Bizarre" are back-to-back Keith cuts that out-crazy any Ol' Dirty Bastard sex rap. Plus, there's the album-closing "No Face," where Tim assumes one of the ghoulish characters pictured on the back-cover art. Keith fans will be pleased, but Tim is actually the revelation on Big Time — he sounds booming and authoritative whenever he raps, and this is some of his most vital work in quite some time. Definitely worth hunting for.

Biography

Genre: Pop

Years Active: '00s

Ultra was a teaming of Kool Keith, the offbeat onetime frontman of the Ultramagnetic MC's, and Tim Dog, best-known for cutting one of the earliest East Coast/West Coast feud records, "Fuck Compton." Tim Dog had gotten his start as a peripheral member of Ultramagnetic, and when the group fell apart, he put his solo career on hold to rejoin Keith under the shortened moniker. Ultra recorded one album, Big Time, and released it on the tiny Our Turn Records in 1996. Once Kool Keith had blossomed into...
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Big Time, Ultra
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