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Boys make noise with retro return

By Christopher Gauger
posted May 26, 2011

In 1983, a punk rock trio from New York began experimenting with hip-hop. Three years later they released an album called Licensed to Ill. The rest is history. The trio known as the Beastie Boys – Michael “Mike D” Diamond, Adam “MCA” Yauch, and Adam “Ad-Rock” Horovitz – became one of the most influential and successful rap groups in the world. Now, in 2011, they return with their latest hip-hop masterpiece, Hot Sauce Committee Part Two. The sounds are old-school but energetic, and the words are just as clever and freewheeling as ever.

Hot Sauce begins, appropriately, with “Make Some Noise,” whose catchy synth lines dig up memories of “Intergalactic” from the group’s 1998 album Hello Nasty. As if that wasn’t the only trip down memory lane, the song’s chorus also references their ’87 party anthem “Fight for Your Right.” Indeed, the album’s 16 tracks have a retro, old-school vibe akin to their 1992 classic Check Your Head.

The Boys continue with their trademark sound, mixing live instruments with underground samples and catchy, electronic grooves. They hop through various genres, from reggae and new wave on “Don’t Play No Game That I Can’t Win” (featuring Santigold), to funk on “Funky Donkey” and the mellow instrumental “Multilateral Nuclear Disarmament,” to hardcore punk on “Lee Majors Come Again.” Altogether, it makes for a playful, inventive sound sure to please the ears of any listener.

The music and lyrics are as creative as ever. The Beastie Boys are known for their clever, tongue-in-cheek lyrics, and Hot Sauce proves that their minds are still pumping out new ideas. On “Too Many Rappers,” Ad-Rock jokes about his age with the line, “Oh my God, just look at me/Grandpa been rappin’ since ’83,” and criticizes modern hip-hop with, “All these crap rappers, they’re rappin’ like crabs!” Fellow New York rapper Nas joins the fray, busting rhymes left and right. Mike D says he’s “back and raising hell/I’m runnin’ wild like rats in the Taco Bell” on “Long Burn the Fire.” MCA gives a shout-out to the group’s influences on “Nonstop Disco Powerpack,” rapping that he “still got mad love for a record called ‘Beat Rock’/It mean a lot spinnin’ on my Walkman/Shout-out, to the Afrika Bam’.”

Despite its odd title, Hot Sauce Committee Part Two is actually part one of the new music the Beastie Boys have been working on. It was originally planned for release in 2009, but MCA’s diagnosis with cancer (for which he was successfully treated) delayed it into the new decade. Donning the name Part Two, the album is guaranteed to keep the group’s unique, retro-rap style alive. As they boldly state at the end of “Nonstop Disco Powerpack,” the Beastie Boys are “gonna rock the house until the break of dawn.”


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