at least that's what I would say about it

If I had a copy of the new Beastie Boys CD, To the Five Boroughs, I would probably think that it was really good. Of course, since it hasn't been released yet, I couldn't possibly have a copy of it yet:-) Jason Zada also seems to have an opinion and stuff. Before writing anything about the cd, I listened to it five times, and I didn't get tired of it.

It's a hip hop record. No instrumental goodness, no punk goodness, straight up, almost minimalistic, hip hop. The beats are mostly from the same school as Hello Nasty, the chop it up into loops and loop that sh*t up over and over, then throw some scratches on top of that, school. In some ways, after listening to the record the first time, I was thinking that I couldn't wait for the inevitable remixes to start dropping. Structurally, the vocal content would leave a remixer with a lot to work with. Overall, they didn't try to do too much with the beats, and it works just fine from where I stand. For those of you looking for the fourth major beat re-invention of the Beastie Boys, this is not that record. It is in some ways a couplet to Hello Nasty the way that Ill Communication was a couplet to Check Your Head.

As far as lyrics and rhyming goes, this record is different, very different, from what came before in a few ways. Although not as pervasive as I had feared, politics have crept into the lyrical content, and it gets especially bad in a couple of instances. I mean, to state the obvious, it is your record, and if that is what you want to talk about, be my guest. I, however, cringed a bit the first time I heard "It Takes Time to Build." There are some of the cultural references that we have come to rely on the Beastie Boys to provide, but the number is nowhere near what I had come to expect in the past. Stylistically, as hinted at by the first single, they branch out a bit more than they did on Hello Nasty. For instance, "Crawlspace" has Adrock laying down some different stuff. This I enjoyed quite a bit. One track that really stood out was "Rhyme the Rhyme Well" from both a beats and vocal standpoint.

Overall, I like this record quite a bit. I get the feeling, as with most of the Beasties work, that after another twenty-five listens, I will very attached to this record. It seems more subtle and minimalistic in some ways than the rest of their body of work, and while this might not bowl you over in the first couple of listens, it will undoubtedly insidiously creep into your consciousness and win you over.

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3 Comments

Comments:

This is Sunil from widepipe...

The record really isn't as bad as I feared. The beats are thick and old school. Every track has you bopping your head. Unfortunately, the lyrics are cringe-worthy at points. But, all in all, It's quality work. I know I'll be playing it, windows rolled down, all summer.

Posted by Anonymous Anonymous on 5:00 PM

OK. First off, what happened to MCA? He hasn't come up with a good rhyme since "Paul's Boutique." My once-favorite Beastie has convinced himself that his flow is so unique that it doesn't require the use of rhymes, I suppose.

Next, I have to say that what I've heard so far is what I'd expect. Being such a huge Beastie Boys fan back in the day, each album seems to be less enticing than the previous. To the point, I didn't even buy a copy of "Hello Nasty." Straight up shite, IMO. This seems to continue the trend.

The beats aren't terrible, but since when was passable something to aspire to? Hip Hop is beats and rhymes, and with mediocre beats and about ten percent decent rhymes, the tally comes to little of interest.

I'll give it more listens. I want to like it.

That being said, the political stance is that typical weeded-out "one love" BS. It's a fine theory, but it's a total fallacy. I agree, the Boys can express themselves to their hearts' desires, but that doesn't necessarily make for good content. Much like some musicians and artists feel pretty comfortable with the idea of communism because, in their vision, they'd be artists and musicians while everybody else worked in the factories, musicians, in particular, seem to get the idea that "love" is the power that will change the world and all they've got to do is spread it. As nice as it all sounds, I argue otherwise (but not here, not now)...

Posted by Blogger Scotty on 6:34 AM

Man... Scotty... I could not disagree with you more. I usually hate the new Beastie's albums when they first come out and then they grow on me over time. Hello Nasty and Check Your Head are the two best Beastie's albums.. nothing sounds like 808.. I know Paul's Boutique is what you are supposed to think is the best album... but while it was/is ground breaking and amazing.. it is all over the place and a bit lyrically juvenile.

Maybe To the Five Boroughs is not the Beastie's best album, because I loved it from the first listen.. while Robert is right that it is not groundbreaking in the way of Paul's Boutique or Check Your Head... it is very radical for this moment in Hip-Hop, where everything is either just such pathetic crap or so over-produced you wonder if a computer made it or real people.

To the Five Boroughs is an old skool hip-hop album that I will be listening to as an old phart sitting on my front porch with Robert and Scotty... reminding Scotty of how he did not like it when if first came out ;-).

Posted by Blogger ClintR on 10:11 PM

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