Ugly Duckling

Comparable to De La Soul, A Tribe Called Quest, the Pharcyde, the Jungle Brothers, and Digable Planets, Ugly Duckling is a quirky, jazz-influenced alternative rap trio who formed in the Los Angeles suburb of Long Beach in 1995. Group members Dizzy, Young Einstein, and Andy Cat started collaborating around 1995, and the hip-hoppers took the name Ugly Duckling because they felt like outcasts on the Southern California hip-hop scene of the mid-'90s. Gangsta rap was the West Coast's dominant hip-hop trend at the time, and Ugly Duckling's members had no interest in the type of macho posturing and violent, threatening lyrics for which gangsta rap was known. In 1998, the group put out "Fresh Mode," a single that sold more than 3,000 copies and seemed to get a buzz going. Later that year, Ugly Duckling was signed to 1500 Records (initially a subsidiary of Interscope/Universal) and recorded their debut EP, which was also titled Fresh Mode and came out in 1999; Journey to Anywhere followed a year later. In 2003, Taste the Secret was released. They later signed to the Brooklyn-based independent hip-hop label Fat Beats, where they issued Bang for the Buck (2006) and Audacity (2008) . ~ Alex Henderson

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