Beastie Boys – Hot Sauce Committee Part II album review

It almost seems redundant talking about the Beastie Boys and how they are pioneers in the rap world. You would be hard pressed to find an article that doesn’t have some mention of how they were a group frat-partying white boys that made it to the top of the charts in the mid-eighties. Over time, the Beastie Boys have gained an iconic status in the hip hop industry and have therefore moved past any need to discuss how they gained credibility and respect as hip hop artists and how they have maintained an enduring appeal over the span of their thirty-year career.

However what is worth marveling is the divergence of sound they create with each release. With their latest album “Hot Sauce Committee Part II”, the boys drop the zeitgeist connection that made 1994’s “Ill Communication” and 1998’s “Hello Nasty” instant classics and have served up rhythmically robotic beats coupled with a retro sound. This nostalgic turn towards their doofus frat-partying “Licensed To Ill” era should come as no surprise seeing as how the album’s release was delayed and some of the tracks were recorded as early as 2008. Nevertheless, it makes for an engaging listen as the boys manage to create realms of skitterish hip hop beats from the retro dust that they have spread onto their sound. There is an, almost, fun-loving, energized punch to tracks such as “Nonstop Disco Powerpack” and “Say It”. A guest turn by Nas easily makes “Too Many Rappers” one of the breeziest tracks on the album and “Tadlock’s Glasses” show the Boys at their most playful.

The beauty of “Hot Sauce” lies in how it starkly opposes the sense of angst that is so prevalent in the music industry. With declining sales and non-stop file sharing threatening to permanently bring the industry to its knees, the boys remind us of the simple joy of throwing on a pair of DJ headphones, cranking the volume loud and boppin’ our heads to the stylized beats of their latest. Lyrically, the Beasties have never been one to spit soul-bearing, misery drenched rhymes and “Hot Sauce” is no exception. What other album would devote so much attention to the career of Lee Majors; the Six Million Dollar Man?

Without a doubt, most reviews of “Hot Sauce….” will over-scrutinize the album’s retro-modulated sound as a blatant gimmick. But, there is something to be said for enjoying the pure kitsch and novelty of an album that is devoted purely towards retro, nostalgic throwback. “Hot Sauce…” excels so well in this venture that there is no point in identifying the flaws in such an album. Basically, the Boys have been around long enough that they can do whatever they want. We should be grateful that their output is engaging enough to keep us coming back for more.

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