Under Review: Beastie Boys – Hot Sauce Committee Part Two

Until recently, I didn’t really listen to the Beastie Boys. Though I knew plenty of their songs (a fact confirmed upon revisiting the Boys’ Solid Gold Hits anthology), their image as hard-partying frat boys remained quite off-putting. Around the time of the release of the instrumental collection The Mix Up and their subsequent withdrawal from the music world, I discovered just how grown up the Beasties Boys had become. The Mix Up was a distillation of the Beasties’ musical maturity that had been evolving since 1998’s Hello Nasty. The long-awaited return of the Beastie Boys was unexpectedly and unfortunately delayed for over a year as a result of Adam “MCA” Yauch’s (eventually victorious) bout with cancer. With a renewed and perhaps more grounded perspective, the Beastie Boys took scraps from what was to become Hot Sauce Committee and assembled Hot Sauce Committee Part Two.

Over the years, the Beastie Boys have established themselves as masters of crafting exciting and innovative singles. Even if album tracks and interstitial interludes prove to be disposable, each record’s focus songs turn out to be instant classics. This holds true for Hot Sauce Committee Part Two, whose opening blaze, “Make Some Noise,” is as exceptional a return as anyone could’ve hoped for. Equally celebratory and desperate, the track features some iconic Beasties wordplay, most poignantly in the pre-hook declaration of “We gonna party for the motherfucking right to fight.” This twist on the Beasties’ best-known lyric (not to mention the song’s revisionist video) shows how far the guys have come in the 25 years since their full-length debut. The minimalist “Nonstop Disco Powerpack” serves as a simply adorned stage for the guys to trade lines, and “Lee Majors Come Again” hearkens back to the Boys’ early hardcore punk days.

Despite their creativity in the studio, the Beastie Boys remain anomalies in the hip-hop world. Joined by mainstreamer Nas on a new version of “Too Many Rappers,” the Boys lament the violence-fixated styles of popular rappers while simultaneously demonstrating how spouting rhymes about Stax Records, Blimpie and matzo balls can sound just as good. While they are always ready to dispense some grin-inducing pop culture reference, the Beastie Boys come out on top with their more informed observations. In “Say It,” Mike “D” Diamond traces the power of ideas “From the mind to the mic to the word to a shout.” Then, on “Funky Donkey,” Adam “Ad-Rock” Horovitz points out “I’m known for my glamour and my glitz – check it.” Well, they can’t be serious all the time.

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~ by E. on June 17, 2011.

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