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.