Hitting shelves nearly two years after, lead single, "Too Many Rappers",
Beastie Boys eighth studio album is finally ready for consumption. The
hip-hop pioneers prove that the time off has not dampened their desire
to explore new territory on this eclectic album.
The sticky bass line and grinding organ bouncing through an energetic
beat works great on "Make Some Noise", as the distorted funk vibe meshes
well with their scathing microphone distortion and baton rapping style.
Originally featured in DJ Hero,
the trio pay respect to the band's punk roots on their garage rock
shout-out to The Six Million Dollar Man on "Lee Majors Come Again", as
thick, chugging riffs and a buzzing bass line erupt over a tensed-up
beat before the song takes its foot off the gas for a sloshing synth-pop
Their hazy, dub influenced "Don't Play No Game That I Can't Win", with
Santigold in tow, is among the album's best surprises. The chirping
guitars and burping horns of the reggae flavored tune leave you
wondering what they cook up next. In contrast, the overstuffed
electronic effects of "Say It" make the guitars toiling in the distance
feel like an unnecessary afterthought on the cluttered song. Still, the
New Wave keyboard melody and gritty riffs forcing their way through a
catchy beat "OK" and fuzzed-out, underwater vibe of "Tadlock's Glasses"
leave you admiring their sonic ambition.
The only complaint is their retreat from the politically charged lyrics of To The 5 Burroughs
in favor of songs that spend the majority of their time aiming at
anonymous inferior rappers. The hollow, Sugar Hill Gang inspired glass
bottle beat and a warm bass groove leave plenty of room for the trio's
raps to reverberate around the room on sparse, smack talking treasure
"Nonstop Disco Powerpack", "Your style is cheap, boy, just like a dutch /
You know you're not smoking on the microphone much".
Clucking cowbell and a grubby evaporating bass line over a classic
hip-hop beat on "Here's A Little Something For Ya" and the blown-speaker
vocals and beat jumping between old-school rap and reggae on "Crazy Ass
Sh*t" make the braggart lyrics feel charming, "Rock non-stop in New
York City / We on the mic looking so damn pretty". The loosely jangling
strut of "Long Burn The Fire" finds an anxious blend of wah-wah guitar
and synth fluttering alongside DJ scratches as they proclaim, "If you're
feeling strong, then reach for yours / My clique is my shield and my
mic is my sword".
The remixed version of "Too Many Rappers", featuring a great guest appearance from Nas,
only finds a minor change from its original version in its ground-up
skyward synth whistle, but the hazy effect is enough to detract from the
song and make the 2009 single stand as the far superior version. The
time they do not spend talking trash to faceless enemies finds the crew
delivering the dripping funk oddity "Funky Donkey" and the excellent
twitchy instrumental "Multilateral Nuclear Disarmament", with synth
jittering over a subterranean bass groove.
A little lyrical meat would likely earn this inventive album legendary
status, but as it stands, Beastie Boys' latest proves worth the wait.