Could Beastie Boys possibly give less of a fuck about trying to sound young? In a word, no. As Ad-Rock proudly declares on their excellent new Hot Sauce Committee Part Two, “Oh, my God, just look at me/Grandpa been rapping since ’83!” The Beasties revel in their older-than-old-school references (“Be kind, rewind”) and cultural touchstones (“braggadocio” rhymes with “I’ll make you sick like a Kenny Rogers Roaster”). Where they used to boast about rocking Adidas instead of Fila, now MCA has different footwear issues: “I don’t wear Crocs, and I don’t wear sandals/The pump don’t work ’cause the vandals took the handles.”
That’s the kick of Hot Sauce — the Beasties sound exactly like themselves, cutting loose without straining to fit anyone else’s idea of relevance. Adam “MCA” Yauch, Michael “Mike D” Diamond and Adam “Ad-Rock” Horowitz originally scheduled Hot Sauce for release in 2009, until the project was derailed by MCA’s battle with cancer. Now cheekily retitled Hot Sauce Committee Part Two, it’s their first album in seven years, unless you count 2007’s stoner-funk instrumental throwaway, The Mix-Up. It’s also a return to classic Beasties chutzpah: On Hot Sauce Committee, they’re not sweating to impress anyone except one another.
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Lead single “Make Some Noise” sets the tone with the group’s feistiest and funniest groove since “Intergalactic” soundtracked the summer of 1998. (Have you listened to Hello Nasty lately? Even nuttier than you remember.) The Beasties ride vintage synths and cowbell, with MCA chanting, “We gonna party for the motherfucking right to fight!” Amid references to Rotary Connection and Ted Danson, Ad-Rock drops the best line: “Can’t tell me nothing, can’t tell me nada/Don’t quote me now because I’m doing the Lambada.”
The group’s self-production has gained bounce since 2004’s To the 5 Boroughs. They get guest shots from Nas (“Too Many Rappers”) and Santigold (the reggae detour “Don’t Play No Game That I Can’t Win”). The music is full of signature touches, from the punk drum solo in “Lee Majors Come Again” to the low-end electro funk of “Here’s a Little Something for Ya.” MCA sounds as gruff as ever in “Nonstop Disco Powerpack,” giving it up to hip-hop pioneers like Rammellzee and K-Rob’s “Beat Bop,” Afrika Bambaataa and Spoonie Gee (“The one MC who you can’t deny”), while both the bass line and the distortion-filter vocals echo Spoonie’s 1980 classic “Spoonin Rap.”
Beastie Boys were already old-school back when they were young-school, hyping an early-Eighties hip-hop revival on Paul’s Boutique before the Eighties were even over. So it’s no surprise that on Hot Sauce Committee Part Two they make no effort to accommodate or even acknowledge any of the latest hip-hop trends. Instead, we get the sound of master musicians in their comfort zone, doing everything their own way. Nobody would want to hear the Beasties try anything else.
Listen to Hot Sauce Committee Part Two: