The Ultimate III MCs are one of those crews who I was a huge fan of, but know very little about. More specifically, besides the music on the three singles they released, I know nothing else about them. They represent out of Brooklyn and I believe their names are Mighty Mike, Magic B, & Dynasty.
Their first single was Partytime Records (famous for T La Rock "It's Yours" 12" in the same year), and is called “What Are We Gonna Do?” (’84) and it kicks in with some simple but catchy keyboards and excellent Roland TR-808 programming which maintains thru out the track. It’s produced by Dave Ogrin, one of the unsung heroes of early to mid 80s Hip Hop production.
I always loved how the first “world issue” they chose to tackle was “what are we gonna do about the ugly girls?” The immediately suggestion is to give them their “own side of the world” to spare the rest of us from their sight which is “so damn alarming”. All is not lost though, they give the “ugly girls” advice to “save up money, to have a facelift” or my favorite, “stick your face in dirt and try to grow a new one”…absolutely comical.
The second verse tackles a more serious topic and confronts the crime on the streets; from “12 Year Old kids getting robbed and stabbed” and needing to “worry about the new shoes on my feet”. Both the sort of troubles that result in “2 Years, I’ll have grey hair” and the internal debate, “Don’t wanna buy a gun, but times are getting so bad, gonna have to buy one.” To further illustrate the grim nature of the situation, he even suggests, “Why don’t someone drop a bomb and just blow it away.”
The 3rd Verse takes a lighter approach, but on one of the most complicated situations out there…relationships. Rather than falling into depression the suggested alternative is to “Say hallelujah, praise the lord and start to rejoice.”
From there they kick into a high-paced verse, passing the mic around, covering a array of issues in the community until it drops to what is perhaps the highlight of the song, a excellent harmonizing piece. This record is just all around great and definitely one of the best records you don’t hear enough about from that era.
Ultimate III MCs-What Are We Gonna Do?
[audio:http://www.fifthelementonline.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2011/06/What-Are-We-Gonna-Do.mp3|titles=What Are We Gonna Do]
Two years later they switched to N.V. Records and dropped “Ultimate III Live!” They maintain the use of the TR-Roland 808 and some quality keyboard work. Background crowd noises thru out the track give the illusion of a live show.
This subject matter is focused on proving their skills as lyricists and proves they were stand out MCs among their peers at that time. Many great quotes ensue, like; “I’m just like confusion, hard to understand” and “start snapping pictures and I’ll keep on posing”, and “Come to me hard and you’re going to leave a broken man.” They build up the intensity for the grand finale with some speed rapping and human beat boxing that creates an ill vibe.
Ultimate III MCs-Ultimate III Live
[audio:http://www.fifthelementonline.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2011/06/ULTIMATE-III-MCS-ULTIMATE-LIVE.mp3|titles=ULTIMATE III MC'S - ULTIMATE LIVE]
Their third and last single hit in ’87, on yet a different label, Sutra, with production by Chubb Rock & The Stranger for No Name Productions. One might guess that the label bouncing around was starting to wear thin and they sought go for a hit with “I Want You Back”. It’s a reworking of the Jackson 5 classic. Once again, the crew proves they have great voices for singing and harmonizing. Honestly the production of the A-Side doesn’t hold up to their previous singles. However, the rhyming, focusing on relationship woes, is solid. However, the singing is actually the highlight, but the additional vocal samples and fill-ins, which I assume are meant to sound like Freddy Kruger, are a bit of a distraction. With a remix and some slight reworking this could actually be a well improved cut.
Ultimate III MCs-I Want You Back
[audio:http://www.fifthelementonline.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2011/06/Ultimate-III-I-Want-You-Back.mp3|titles=Ultimate III - I Want You Back]
The other track is “I Need Some Money” and is a much better representation of the crew. The production is simple but effective with some Spoonie Gee “Love Rap” drums topped with some slowed down Cymande “Bra”. The subject matter is pretty direct to the point. They each kick it about their financial woes, needs, and/or goals with lines like “Rapping was a hobby to let off aggravation/but now it’s a job and getting paid’s my occupation” and “I need money now, I can’t wait till I’m 30”
Mighty Mike shines thru with, “I did my share of crime and also share of time/Now I’ve learned to accepted what is rightfully mine/Now I’m a easy going guy, never looking for static/But one slip and I’ll flip like an acrobatic/Yes, I need some money, no ands, buts and hows/and being stopped by a mortal, I just won’t allow/cause I’m Mighty Mike not here to be slaved/that’s not in my contract, it says “Get Paid”/so I’ll follow all instructions, there’ll be no deductions in my royalty check from No Name productions…”.
Although “I Want You Back” is touted as the primary cut, it’s “I Need Some Money” that gets the bonus treatment on the flipside with an “Instrumental” and “Dub” version. Also, upon a closer listen to this 12”, there seems to be only 2 of the 3 MCs represented here...
Ultimate III MCs-I Need Some Money
[audio:http://www.fifthelementonline.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2011/06/Ultimate-III-I-Need-Some-Money.mp3|titles=Ultimate III-I Need Some Money]
After this I’m not sure what the next move for the crew was. Far as I know there wasn’t any other music, at least under these names. I did recently establish contact with the son of one of the MCs, who is trying to score me an interview! I really hope that happens because I want to know more about the crew and I’m sure there’s plenty of 80s Hip Hop fans waiting on that story just like me!!
Written By Kevin Beacham