Tuesday, 10 May 2011

Review: Beastie Boys - Hot Sauce Committee Part 2

b boys
Since I was too young to remember the 80's, I first got into the Beastie Boys with 1998's 'Hello Nasty', an album where they took the role of mad scientists, producing an eclectic and wild collection of tracks that pushed boundaries as well as got many people dancing. It was to be 8 years until the follow up 'To The 5 Boroughs' arrived, but compared to its predecessor it was a bit of a let down, as it seemed like too much of a straight forward hip hop album for the Beasties to be producing. Mind you it still had some pretty crazy moments.

And crazy is where they return to another 7 years in, with this album. The record has been delayed for the last couple of years while Adam 'MCA' Yauch was treated for cancer, and during that time the album has been reworked and released as 'Hot Sauce Committee Part 2'. In terms of sound, this record is a welcome return to their early 90's sound, songs with funk basslines, heavy guitars as well as hard hitting hip hop beats. And those beats can be found all over the opening track and single 'Make Some Noise', which wouldn't sound out of place on 'Hello Nasty' and comes across as a more old school relative of 'Remote Control'. 'Non Stop Disco Powerpack' joins a ridiculously funky bass hook to one of the most skillful rap performances the Beasties have ever done. 'OK' is mischievious, having a lot of fun with a drum machine and a bouncy bassline, while 'Too Many Rappers' does have too many rappers on since it features Nas, whose rather stiff rapping doesn't sit very well in this track. It sounds like an attempt to use a big name guest to add something of interest to a weaker song. Truth is it would've been better without Nas, yet still would've been one of the weakest moments on this album.

Luckily things are improved with the awesome 'Say It', a close relative of 'Sabotage' with its screeching guitar, heavily distorted bassline and lots of shouting and sirens on the chorus. It's a very welcome return to the band's hard rock side, which was entirely absent from 'To The 5 Boroughs'. Later on the guitars will crank up again on 'Lee Major Come Again', where relentless drums and plenty of punk rock guitar thrashing bring the group's early hardcore influences to the forefront. But 'Hot Sauce Committee Part 2' is a diverse record, and the sounds range from surprising reggae dancehall flavours on 'Don't Play No Game That I Can't Win' to dark, heavyweight hip hop on 'Long Burn The Fire'. Then there's the almost Death In Vegas-esque instrumental, 'Multilateral Nuclear Disarmament', which takes the album into a brilliantly groovy break.

And even though the instrumental is awesome, the band's random lyrics are still a real treat. Take 'Funky Donkey' for example : "I go 'woo woo' like a fire engine, flashing lights to get your attention, stop sweating me about the weather, go shave a sheep and knit yourself a sweater" and absurd lines like "Parlay romancing into the financing, Opened up a restaurant with Ted Danson, The roaches check in, but they never check out, I set the record straight, no doubt". And as always they're constantly doing things "till the break of dawn", despite the fact that these are three men all well into their 40s. I love 'Here's A Little Something For Ya' which takes a warped, elastic bassline and throws it down against a rousing chorus Plus it's great when they can't find anything else to rhyme with "choice" and "voice" so they pronounce "twice as nice" as "twoice as noice". 'Crazy Ass Shit' isn't as good, in fact it comes across as unnecessary and 'The Lisa Lisa/Full Force Routine' would've made a good intermission track, but isn't a great way to end an album.

'HSC2' is a brilliant album, and surely the best hip hop album of the last 15 years. It's fun, experimental, crazy and it is essentially the sound of three aging New Yorkers showing everyone how good hip hop can still be when it's made by the right people. 8/10

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