Beastie Boys - Hot Sauce Committee Pt. 2
Release Date: May 3, 2011
Record Label: Capitol Records
I was a late convert to the Beastie Boys. It wasn't until sometime in the early 00s that I finally picked up a copy of their 1989 opus Paul's Boutique. But, not long after, I inhaled their entire catalogue. Looking back, the only reason that I can think for my late conversion was that rap, at least, as I saw it wasn't particularly a smart genre. But, the Beastie Boys, in my mind at least, changed that. The allure of the band has always been the high-brow mix of immaculate sampling and music with the raw, inhibition, and goofy party atmosphere that the band celebrates. And, on their latest Hot Sauce Committee Pt. 2 the Beastie Boys feel fresh by feeling old school. In the age of auto tune (anything from Kanye to the news), the Black Eyed Peas' foolishness, and pop stars who have traded in on what the Beastie Boys do over and over again (see anything from Sum-41 to Ke$ha to Lonely Island), everything that was old is new again and everything that's new is almost instantly parodied and ironized to death.
The opener, "Make Some Noise," which you've no doubt seen or heard by now sets the tone right off -- the blips and funky keyboard riff are straight out of the high-water mark of last century's hip-hop. Trust me, there's enough funky keyboard in here to make Stevie Wonder see again. Like Big Boi's album last year, (and to rip off Erykah Badu) this is analog for the digital age. A fact that the Beastie Boys are evidently well aware of and revel in. "Say It" sounds like the backing sample is from "Gratitude" off 1992's Check Your Head. The implication is clear -- the Beastie Boys are so fucking original they can sample themselves.
That's probably one of the most genuinely surprising things about this album, and the band in general, they seem to be able to come at themselves in new perspectives every time. I mean, let's face it, they're rapping about peanut butter and sandwiches, headphones, what a drag real jobs are when you really want to get down (or chill), and how no MCs are as good as Mike D, Adrock, or MCA (depending on whose doing the delivery). And it's a tribute to their simple collective genius that they can create a career off the elementary rhymes. Because, at this point, it's become their schtick and they wield it like the old pros they are on this album. Perhaps it's the comfort that allows them to come at each song in a new way taking fresh perspectives on a well-worn routine. The most out of comfort song is "Don't Play No Game That I Can't Win" featuring Santigold. Yet, the Beastie Boys are smart enough to step back and let the featured act take over. The result is an arresting Afro-pop inspired track that ends up feeling like a lovely right hand turn in the keyboard-heavy album. And, don't worry fans of "Time for Livin" there's still a punk song on here for you. A little more polished than what you're used to, but just as good.
Somehow, after 30 years of working, the Beastie Boys have happened on a new sound that brings to mind both the past and the future. What makes this album different isn't just the music, but the respect and care that the band puts into every note and how they're able to be eclectic while original, goofy yet intricate. It's what makes something like the video for "Sabotage" more than just a one-off joke. What makes an artist is innovation and originality. What makes a career is the ability to reconstruct, re-construe, reconsider what you've done and take risks to make yourself better. What makes the Beastie Boys is all of this and the sense of humor to know that you can have as much fun doing it as it is listening to it. God bless them for it.
It's called gratitude, and that's right.