Published Jan 01, 2006Before becoming one of hip-hop's more creative forces, the Ugly Duckling trio were flipping burgers together at MeatShake, a California fast food chain where everything has meat in it, even the shakes. When it came time for Andy Cooper, Dizzy Dustin and Young Einstein to follow up 2000's Journey to Anywhere, Cooper found that one track he penned, exaggerating about their MeatShake days, was too amusing to be left as one angle of such an oddball occupation. Soon their second full-length, Taste the Secret, became a script for a hip-hop storybook centering around the MeatShake corporation as well their animal-friendly rival, Veggie Hut.
"At first I had it as Veggie Hut versus Meat Shake and the album was going to be called Meats and Vegetables," Cooper says of the transition from one song into a full-out hip-hop musical. "It was sort of a metaphor for music and art where fast food is for people who just want something easily served to them, like pop radio. And then the extreme is people who work at indie record stores and if you don't know this band or you're not hip to the Flaming Lips you're an idiot. You're stupid if you don't wear retro, late '70s rock clothes. Sort of the highfalutin music geeks against the just give me the new guy from American Idol CD.'"
Since De La Soul killed the Daisy Age, there hasn't been much fun in hip-hop, so a witty and often amusing record like Taste the Secret is a bold and refreshing move for Ugly Duckling. "We're certainly in the minority," says Cooper. "Einstein and I were working on this record and said, if nothing else we're gonna have a lot of fun and try to do something that's going to get a reaction out of people. It's going to be really extreme, very theme-oriented and very comical because we're going to go the exact opposite way that most people do. Let's not be afraid to cross boundaries and act crazy."