It’s almost 2012 and I’m sitting here listening to a kick ass Beastie Boys album, how is this possible? Well it seems that the Beasties can’t, won’t, and don’t stop. Longevity in music is rare and among those still standing those who are able to stand tall are even rarer. The Beastie Boys are standing tall.
Mike D, MCA, and Ad-Rock are still coming up with impressive songs that are both literate and funny. The singles are just as strong as they were back in the ’80s. The album opener, “Make Some Noise” is a party-anthem that manages to seamlessly name-check Ted Danson and Willy Wonka’s Fizzy Lifting drink. While I don’t think doing that is impossible, the Beasties real talent lies in the effortlessness of it all.
Some commotion was stirred online when the band released a star-studded, 30+ minute video for “Make Some Noise.” If you haven’t seen it I urge you to go watch it on Youtube. The music video, which helped launched the Beasties career, may be dead but they band managed to revive it by bringing their A-list talent and some A-list friends.
The album features a few obligatory rap-cameos from Nas (who appears on the albums other single “Too Many Rappers”) and newbie it-girl Santigold on the dub-tastic “Don’t Play No Games That I Can’t Win.” The former being a call to arms against the seemingly endless tide of pedestrian rappers clogging up the airwaves. The song, done by anyone else, would seem like another bragging session but the Beasties Boys can actually back up the fact that they’re the best because they are. And the sentiment that the majority of the rap game is full of posers may not be exactly new, but it’s extra damming coming from the Godfathers of rap. To all young rappers: you’ve been put on notice.
“Don’t Play No Games That I Can’t Win” meanwhile sounds like something from a later-period Gorillaz album. Thick with horns and a thumping reggae-like beat it follows a recent trend in rap music where a guest-star takes center stage. The song is good, but I mention it because it’s a very modern track, suggesting that the Beasties haven’t been just sitting on their laurels but have actually been paying attention to modern music. I also think it’s interesting that they’d give so much space on their album to someone not in the band.
In general, I’d say that HOT SAUCE COMMITTEE PART TWO is fantastically textured, and it’s songs like “Don’t Play No Games That I Can’t Win” that help give the album that varied feel. The instrumental track, “Multilateral Nuclear Disarmament” is another stand out that adds a nice bit of “otherness” to the album that elevates HOT SAUCE COMMITTEE to a higher plane of awesome.
My favorite track, “Lee Majors Comes Again” appears toward the end of the album and kills me every time I hear it. It’s vintage Beastie Boys with a killer guitar riff played over a nice synth bed topped with a frothy vocal hook. For me, the song really showcases what’s so great about the Beastie Boys in that, it’s the perfect blend of genres rock and rap.
HOT SAUCE COMMITTEE PART TWO came about back in April and I’m still listening to it. In 2011 that’s a pretty powerful statement. Aging like a fine wine is a bit of a cliche, but that’s just what the Beastie Boys are doing. The fact that I want “Make Some Noise” my ringtone is pretty telling. My personal theory on why the band is still good has to do with their sense of humor. The Beasties have cultivated a foot-loose-and-fancy-free “party” attitude, but more than that they’ve never taken themselves too seriously. I think a strong work ethic and immense pool of talent certainly helps, but I also think simply having fun is important. HOT SAUCE COMMITTEE PART TWO is “fun” to listen to. As I think back on all the songs I’ve listened to this year, I can’t think of very many that were fun. With war, recession, and unemployment dominating the headlines this year it’s nice that the Beastie Boys have provided us with an escape.
HOT SAUCE COMMITTEE PART TWO gets a (belated) “A-“