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Meet Ultra Magnus, Hip-Hop’s Most Unlikely Dope New RapperPosted by Nathan S. on 06/26/12 | Filed under Features, Opinion, Ultra Magnus
Even better, it turns out Ultra Magnus is a pretty damn good writer too, so I invited him to try to explain how a kid from Forteau, Labrador ends up making some un-apologetically weird hip-hop. Are there legions of other rappers roaming the most remote regions of the globe? I fucking doubt it, but here's one....
Did you know that ants exist almost everywhere on earth except Antarctica and other uninhabitable islands? Their co evolution with other species leads them to forge mimetic relationships. Mimicry, in evolutionary terms is all about survival, when a creature mimics the scent, appearance, behavior, and sound of another organism; say a moth imitates a venomous spider, to get predators off its back. But to the trained eye, mimicry can look goofy; it’s all about the organism’s perception of what they’re mimicking right? Their best approximation to the original.
Rappers exist almost everywhere on earth except Antarctica and other uninhabitable islands. Their co-evolution with other genres of music leads them to forge mimetic relationships. Mimicry in rural rapper terms, is all about acculturation and when a rapper mimics appearance behavior and sound of another rapper, without any foreknowledge on how to rap, or what rap is, to the trained eye and ear of a hip hop head it looks goofy. Because it’s all about perception and interpretative abstractions of culture, the result leads to very confident, incompetent rappers.
Hi, I’m a rapper from the most rural province in Canada, MC Ultra Magnus. I grew up in an isolated community, called Forteau, Labrador population under 350. The son of two immigrants from Kenya and Nigeria, I was the only visible minority for 1000s of miles. As a youth, this didn’t always play in my favor as you can imagine, but Labrador grew to be more accepting than you’d think. Especially around the time 8 mile dropped. I was in 9th grade, an ill adjusted introverted and ignorant child, we’d just moved from Forteau to a slightly larger town called Happy Valley Goose Bay, way up north. As a result of a paradigm shift and an abundance of blond children whose scalps were still ringing from hydrogen peroxide, suddenly I was pushed into rap.
In fact as a black kid, I was expected to be an authority on the subject, and this should have come as no surprise to me, as I was often expected to be an authority on black culture and identity previously. I’d already been a disappointment to kids who expected Allen Iverson crossovers on the court, or who’d made great pains to clear dance floors with the expectation that I’d pull a backspin, only to see me wriggle around the floor like an idiot.
But Rap in a talentless vacuum of non rappers, was easy. Battles happened all the time and I never lost, not because I was a natural talent, but because the talent pool was ridiculously low. I was terrible myself I’m sure, but the validation and encouragement from peers, lead me to consume hip hop at a neurotic level.
Until that time, living on the coast, we’d only get like 12 channels, none of them dedicated to music. My parents weren’t rap fans, the only rap bumping in our house was O.P.P., off a random “Now That’s What I Call Music! Tape.” Everything else was mostly reggae or traditional music in languages I didn’t speak. But in my teen years, through the wonders of the internet I grew like some weird test tube baby, devouring classics. I like many before me became enthralled in the Wu, especially Ghost, and in that was my reference point for what was good.
It should surprise no one that there are many rappers in rural areas, some notably terrible, some surprisingly good. But the process of acculturation in isolated conditions, I think is the same. To build confidence as a rapper, you need reinforcement, and I think in these small environments, the support a rapper can get is intense. That’s how a Krispy Kreme can come to be, or any rapper for that matter that you’ve seen that’s terrible but has absolutely no self consciousness. (Anyone remember Boostalk “we gon rock?”) For me, my confidence lead me to further knowledge and with the help of other talented MC’s I met in university, ( a hip hop collective ESR,) I was educated like a man raised by wolves, slowly acclimatizing himself into society. I tried to translate that confidence into creativity and originality, but validation is like heroine, and you will eventually need to up the dose, so like every rapper ever, I had to get some blog love for a quick hit from the proverbial dealer Nathan S.
But some never leave the initial feeding grounds, and through the wonders of the internet we can peek into this strange act of nature from afar, as they’re presented to us in earnest over the web. I’d like to think I’m an exception to the rule, but the RefinedHype nation can judge weather MC Ultra Magnus is a self deluded cornball. The intent of emulation isn’t to dilute the culture although it inevitably will. That being said for myself and many rappers like me, it’s a hard drug to wean oneself from.
- Ultra Magnus
For more from Ultra Magnus, you can find more music from the man streamed here. Check out more info via his Facebook.
Play Ultra Magnus - Ultra Magnus