Filed under: Bronx Bombers,Ced Gee Special,Crates,Interviews,Steady Bootleggin'
Written by: Robbie Ettelson
When I first started this site, one of my earliest unpublished interviews was with TR Love, the most low profile member of the legendary Ultramagnetic MC’s. Towards the end of 2005, I was put into contact with Ced Gee, Moe Love and TR Love thanks to their man Marc Davis, but after several phone calls to both Ced (who was busy “entertaining” a female on one of the mornings I rang) and Moe (who’s grandma I managed to piss-off), I was still without any material. TR “The Funk Igniter” turned-out to be the only one of the three who I managed to pin-down long enough to speak to, and since they recently dropped a new album I thought it was about time I released this from the Unkut Dot Com vaults.
Robbie: How did you first get down with the crew?
TR Love: We were basically classmates at school. We all knew each other from our childhood. We met through rival schools, we went to different schools. We were interested in music, but we were just doing it in different aspects. Everybody had their own little set group – Keith had his group, Ced had his group, I had my group – but when the groups didn’t work, we all got together and decided to make our own group.
What was the name of your first group?
My first group was The Hardcore Brothers.
So the guys from that didn’t go onto anything else?
Nah, not really. I mean, we tried, doin’ what we did, but it just never really evolved into what we thought it could be.
On that “Feelin’ It” single, on the instrumental version there’s your verse in the middle, but it’s not on the actual song?
That was my introduction into the game, as far as lettin’ everybody knew that I rap. No one knew it was there until they started playin’ it. That was my very first rhyme that I put to tape.
Is it fair to say that Ced did a lot of the programming, but you and Moe used to dig a lot of the records?
Yeah, that was basically it. Ced knew how to program ’cause he had the fundamentals down, so he was teaching us at the same time as we was workin’. But as far as the knowledge of the music and everything, we all had knowledge of the music but it’s just that, in the vast majority, I had knowledge of the records ’cause I had a lotta records that were unobtainable.
So stuff like the Joe Cocker was from your collection?
Well Keith had the 45 – I had the album. We came together on different things, but the vast majority of the grooves that were on Critical were supplied by myself and Maurice. Keith came in with certain other records and stuff like that.
And Ced had the SP-12, so that was his area of expertise…
On the cover of Beatdown, you’ve destroyed this building and you’re standing on the bodies of a few people. Was that meant to be anyone in particular?
T: Nah, we were just doing it to make a statement in the rap industry to let other people know that we were just superior to other formidable MCs that they called at the top of the line, at that particular era. The LL’s, Kool Moe Dee’s and all that other stuff.
Was Ronnie T an official member?
He was a friend of ours, we let him do the intro [to “Ego Trippin'”].
When you guys came back with the Funk Your Head Up album, I noticed you were rhyming a lot more.
I was opening up my production skills to let people know that I had the skills to do it, and to let people know that I was a full producer and a beatsmith and a rhyme sayer.
Word. I also heard that you guys had a bit of trouble with the label on that record. They wanted to remix a lot of the tracks and…
Yeah, yeah. Everybody got their own say on what they want you to do, so at the time we were going through some…diplomatic issues, y’know?
So were songs like “I like Your Style” the kind of direction you wanted to go in, or was that more their “encouragement”?
No, that was the label telling us that they wanted those type of records, so we had to give ’em what they wanted. If it was for us, everything would have been hard. Groove, soul and hard.
When you did The Four Horsemen, the liner notes were good value. You were the Hamburgular!
We were just bashing each other on the liner notes on the album, making jokes and fun of each other.
Do you still work with Keith? Are you planning anything as a group?
Yeah, the reunion has already been set. We started working on everything now, we commenced recording now. We’re like three songs in, but other than that we’re not really lettin’ nobody know what’s happening until we feel comfortable with what we have, as far as a body of work, and just to let people know that things are for real. We’ve been doing shows, we’ve got dates comin’ up, we just did a show a month ago. Everything is real, the group is back together, workin’. Constantly working to make this record a good body of work, where people can feel comfortable that they got somethin’ that they’ve been waitin’ for. But at the same token, we’re four different entities, we’re all separate mindstates, so we’re trying to work that together cohesively as well. It hasn’t been like we’ve been in a room together for the last six years doin’ records, so getting everybody back together is a slow process at the moment.
Trying to build back that chemistry as a group.
Not even the chemistry – just getting the ideas together. The chemistry is always there, because if the chemistry wasn’t there we wouldn’t be able to do shows. It’s just the fact of people believin’ that we are really trying to do what we’re doin’, ’cause a lotta people are non-believers. They’re doubting and they’re hating, they just can’t believe that we’re actually trying to make this happen – but it is happening! I just wanna let the public know that I don’t think we’re gonna make another Critical Beatdown, but we’re trying to do something to that level, but better.
Another thing I was wondering about, when Tuff City started putting out The Basement Tapes and everything, was that something you guys were happy about?
Actually, those tapes had gotten stolen and got in to the wrong hands, and when Ced found out he immediately thought he needed to get it out there, so he started doing The Basement Tapes. There was rumour goin’ around that Ced was on drugs, this, that and the third, that’s why he was sellin’ the tapes – but it wasn’t that. It was just the fact that we wanted to get those songs out, but we were gonna do something like a compilation of our greatest hits, but when the first couple of songs started leaking, everything just snowballed. So we just let it go. Aaron Fuchs was just a lucky person to buy into the situation and be able to do what he had to do to produce it.
What was up with that record Freddie Foxxx made about you guys? Was that just a misunderstanding?
It was a misunderstanding. Everything is good between him and us now. Somebody’s gotta get a tongue lashing sometimes. We were just the bearer of that situation. It’s good for publicity – it helped us just as much as it helped him.
On “Ego Trippin’” you guys are talking about “Peter Piper rhymes”, were you just going at them ’cause they were big on the charts, like “we can destroy these guys”?
Yeah. But at the same token we were also trying to let people know that we needed to change the vocabulary, so things have to start with us. If we were gonna set the tone we had to let people know. Our biggest influences were Run-DMC, so for us to even talk about them and diss them on that record was unique at the time.
In between Ultra stuff, you did beats on that King Tee album…
There were quite a few. King Tee, Ice-T, Big Daddy Kane, quite a few people, around 94-95. We collaborated with Keith on that Big Willie Smith EP. We were beginning to start our own label at that particular time with that record, and we had “The Mack Is Back” and some other things that we made at that particular time. That was the first instalment, and we did some more things after that. Kutmasta Kurt got involved with it, then things happened to pan out differently, so I started doing something else. Then I got involved with Raw Breed. I started working on their record and putting their situation together with Warner Brothers and I let Keith run with that and do what he had to do.
That Big Willie Smith EP is a valuable record now. I’ve seen that go on eBay for $500.
[suprised] $500? On eBay for it? That’s crazy. A 12 inch for $500!
If you’ve got any left you’d make a nice bit of change. So are you rhyming on the new stuff or mainly working on the production side?
A little bit of both. We’ve trying to feature some new people that we have in our camp – Fred Beans, Big D. We have a couple of other people that we’re dealing with right now.
Is that all guys from the Bronx?
Mostly from the Bronx and Harlem. We’ve got one from Brooklyn.
Are you feeling much new music?
I listen to everybody. I’ve been listening to everybody in the game since I took my break, but nothing that’s really moving me, as far as what they’re sayin’ out here. I mean you’ve got Jay-Z and The LOX and everybody else but…Nas is good, Jay-Z’s good, B.I.G. is not here, Pac was good but there’s only a selected few that really carried their weight and gave us their heart and soul. The rest of ’em are just copycats. The music has started changing, once that happens everything starts to go in a different way. Everybody wanna be hardcore, but if the public is not accepting the hardcore music then you have to go a different route. That’s why you have the Black Eyed Peas and the likes of everyone else that’s out right now.
Ultramagnetic MC’s – Feelin’ It (instrumental w/ TR verse) [“Watch Me Now” single, Next Plateau, 1988]
Ultramagnetic MC’s – A Chorus Line [“Travelling At The Speed Of Thought (Remix)” single, Next Plateau, 1989]
Ultramagnetic MC’s – You Ain’t Real [Funk Your Head Up, Mercury, 1992]
Ultramagnetic MC’s – TR Love The Superstar [Smack My Bitch Up, Tuff City]
Note on videos: Even though TR and Moe are in the cover photo for the new Ultra LP, I wasn’t able to find any evidence of their contributions to any of the songs, and both of these videos only feature Keith and Ced….?
Ultramagnetic MC’s – “Party Started” video
Ultramagnetic MC’s – “Late Nite Rumble” video
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