Reviews Beastie Boys Hot Sauce Committee Part 2

Beastie Boys

Hot Sauce Committee Part 2

As is common place whenever the Beastie Boys release an album, there is cause for celebration—usually the popular music of the time has grown stagnant, and, on average, it’s been at least three years since the last Beasties’ release. This time jubilation is even more warranted, as this record almost didn’t see the light of day. Scheduled to be released in its original form (being referred to in retrospect as Part One) in 2009, the album was shelved indefinitely when Adam “MCA” Yauch discovered a cancerous tumor in his salivary gland. All plans were put on hold and the future of the Beasties was forced into uncertainty. Flash forward two years; Yauch has persevered and he and his compatriots, Michael “Mike D” Diamond and Adam “Ad-Rock” Horowitz are ready to take over the world once again. With the release of Hot Sauce Committee Part Two—the first proper album in seven years (not counting ‘07’s all-instrumental outing The Mix-Up)—it’s safe to emphatically proclaim; the Beastie Boys are Back! Like, BACK, back.

One of the Beasties unique talents is their collective ability to craft humorous songs wrought with quirky wordplay and obscure references that will not only have you rapping along but also asking exactly what the hell it means. For instance, on “Nonstop Disco Powerpack” when Mike D says “I said ‘Yo Man, make Mike’s mic louder’/Don’t make me sound cheap like a box of douche powder” I had to wonder, first, what in the world is douche powder? And second, if such a thing as douche powder exists, what makes it cheaper than say, other vaginal cleanliness products? (A little Internet searching confirms that douche powder was one of the first menstruation products on the market, dating back to the 1900s—confirming what I already knew; the Beastie Boys are scholars of the highest regard.)

The majority of the record was produced by the Beasties themselves. Although there is no mention of them by name on the liner notes, it’s probably safe to say Money Mark and Mix Master Mike have also lent their particular brand of craftiness once again, as there are recognizable keys, knob tweaks, and record scratches evocative of Hello Nasty and the highly underappreciated To The 5 Boroughs. There are a number of low-end jams capable of rattling even the finest of boomin’ systems on the road. I suspect the rumble of “Long Burn The Fire” will illicit several noise violation tickets this summer. When Ad-Rock raps, “I check my rearview/MC’s aint gettin’ closer”, you best be checking your rearview to make sure 5-0 isn’t getting any closer—know what I’m sayin’.

There are two guest spots on here that produce unique results. The previously released, “Too Many Rappers”, which features fellow veteran MC, Nas, gets the dubstep treatment on a new remix. And the Beasties take a stab at dub reggae with the Santigold collaboration, “I Don’t Play No Game That I Can’t Win.” They have always been good at seamless transitions from style to style, as evidenced on albums like Check Your Head and Ill Communication. This record is no different in that sense. A song like “Multi Nuclear Disarmament” would get lost in the shuffle on an instrumental-only record like The In Sound From Way Out , but is placed perfectly here—late in the album, as a transition between the hardcore punk leanings of “Lee Majors Come Again” and the electrified boom-boom-clap of “Here’s A Little Something For Ya.” In fact, oddly enough, the only real bump in the road on this album is “Lee Majors Come Again.” A pairing that has always worked for the Beasties—punk and hip-hop— ends up sounding like a mismatch, as they rap instead of, ah, sing over a backdrop of patented Beastie hardcore chops.

Long before it became acceptable for rappers to get by over-relying on Auto-Tune, the Beastie Boys were exercising a variety of vocal effects. That tradition continues in several instances on Hot Sauce. On “Tadlock’s Glasses”, when MCA humorously raps, “You’ve got a bagel in your pants and that’s a must/Plus I cuss and grab my nuts/Got a six finger ring that says ‘Excuse Our Dust’” his pack-a-day smokey drawl sounds like it’s been twisted into a pretzel and stuffed in a tin can. In other words, it’s the aural equivalent of huffing a whippet balloon underwater.

As an act that’s known for exercising their musical steez in a variety of disciplines, Hot Sauce is the Beasties doing primarily what they do best—hip-hop. With this album huge strides have been made to present old-school rap music as decidedly contemporary product. These guys have been students of the game for so long that by now they should be writing the curriculum. With one spin of this record, the overabundance of today’s ringtone rappers could learn a few things about making good music. It’s refreshing to hear hip-hop executed so perfectly by old dudes. In a genre that’s strayed so far off the path that it’s in danger of losing its way back, it’s clear to see the Beastie Boys have still kept the flame burning bright back on the home front.

9.5 / 10Nathan G. O'Brien
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