The name 'Ugly Duckling' might conjure up an altogether different image other than a rap act - a children's tale by Hans Christian Andersen about rebuttal and rejection in society, turned into a film, then a calming but cheery little tune by Danny Kaye, then overhauled in the '70s by comedian and 'Stenders Fraaank Butcher, the late Mike Reid - '....'is fevvas all stubby an' braaaaan....', you know the one. Huge hit.
But to three guys from California and their legion of aficionados and crate-digging admirers, Ugly Duckling means fun, parody, sampling, party, beats and a gentle, though firm, lampooning of typical hip-hop ills. Guns, misogyny, sexism, homophobia, swag, money and more guns. Did I mention money? OK, so not all hip-hop is disgraceful, most of it is bang on the money (pardon the phrase) but Ugly Duckling didn't agree in their formative years, hence the trio's lyrical content leaning towards love, anti-materialism, social awareness and whooping it up without takin' 'em down.
Some ten years ago, Ugly Duckling experienced a UK crossover of sorts with the natty compacted party banger, 'A Little Samba', harking back to the days of De La Soul, A Tribe Called Quest and EPMD, when wordsmiths were wordsmiths, not crotch-grabbing 'bragatharios'. Other neat aural-tricks came in the shape of 'Eye on the Gold Chain' and 'I Did it Like This', all issued on XL Recordings and all drawn from the still classic album, 'Journey to Anywhere'. They sat very nicely alongside Jurassic 5 and Dilated Peoples records, for sure.
Ten years on and the threesome are still issuing quality beats - their 2011 set 'Moving at Breakneck Speed' has a party going on (again) and includes the early-2012 single 'Elevation' (have a peek at the video) and will no doubt feature at their UK shows starting in the autumn.
Their tour is a lengthy beast and kicks off in London on 3rd November, followed by twenty-plus shows including Leeds, Swindon, Glasgow, Bristol, Winchester etc until Brighton on the 25th. We have tickets and links to most shows, with many costing under a tenner, rising to £12.50 for London.