Monday, June 06, 2011

Review: Beastie Boys

Beastie Boys
Hot Sauce Committee, Pt. 2

Did I miss something? Where did the “Hot Sauce Committee, Pt. 2” come from? I didn’t even know there was a Pt. 1.

It turns out the band played a fast one on me. (Or maybe a slow one.) The Beasties were planning on releasing a two-part “Hot Sauce” series until Adam Yauch was diagnosed with cancer in 2009. While he recovered, the New York City trio retooled the project, releasing it as just one disc. (You can find Pt. 1 as an import, but before you shell out the extra $20 bucks, you should know it’s almost exactly the same as Pt. 2.)

For most artist, a two-year delay would certainly kill a record. Not so for the Beastie Boys. Like all their records, “Hot Sauce” exists in a strange time warp, somewhere between 1985 and outerspace.

The Beastie Boys have never felt obliged to fit into a definable category. Over the past 25 years, the groups has done pretty much done whatever they’ve wanted. Obnoxious hip-hop (“License to Ill”)? Sure. An eight-song punk rock EP (“Aglio e Olio”) that clocks in at 11 minutes? Why not. An ‘80s throwback album (“To the 5 Boroughs”) followed by a an instrumental record (“The Mix-Up”). Of course.

While each of those records had a very specific flavor, “Hot Sauce” is more reminiscent of “Check Your Head,” when all those various styles got dropped in a blender. The record starts on a high note with the funky “Make Some Noise” and the robotic “Ok.” It gets even better when they make room for a rare guest appearance, inviting fellow New Yorker Nas to add some bite to the attacking “Too Many Rappers.”

While the trio have kept with the same rhyme patterns since their early days (who else can still get away with using lines like “Let me introduce myself, I’m Ad-Rock?”), their music never stays in the same place. “Say It” sounds like a cover of Onyx’s 1993 hit “Slam” and “Don’t Play No Game” finds the group on a tropical island with Santogold.

“Hot Sauce” is wildly uneven. Things get murky in the middle third (the fuzzy “Long Burn the Fire,” the warbly “Tadlock’s Glasses”) and there are a few misses (“Crazy A%% S*&%”). But that’s a small price to pay for a record that is willing to take risks without taking itself too seriously.

For fans of: Run-DMC, Rage Against the Machine
Rating: 3 of 4

Check out: Make Some Noise (Vevo)

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