Lordy, it's been nearly 13 years since "Hello Nasty," and a quarter-century since "Licensed to Ill." My IRA just spit up a little. We haven't even heard from the Beastie Boys in seven years -- unless you count that instrumental album in 2007 -- and now they're back, finally, hollering with typical cheek, "Oh, my God, just look at me / Grandpa been rapping since '83!"
Adam "MCA" Yauch, Michael "Mike D" Diamond and Adam "Ad-Rock" Horowitz had planned "Hot Sauce Committee, Pt. 1" for 2009. After releasing one single, "Too Many Rappers" with Nas, the project was derailed by Yauch's cancer diagnosis. With Yauch now recovered, the hip-hop trio reshuffled the tracks, subtracted one, and now presents the set as "Part 2," confounding discographers for years to come.
The Beasties obviously have wasted no energy catching up with current hip-hop trends, instead carefully recapping the styles and sounds that have become their signatures ...
Into the vintage funk and punk rock blend, they spice up "Hot Sauce" with Cars keyboards, Daft Punk grooves and glitchy madness (all ingredients of the clever "OK") plus fiery guests (Nas, as mentioned, plus Santigold on the reggae diversion "Don't Play No Game That I Can't Win"). The funk rules most tracks, especially of course "Funky Donkey," a hilarious, hissing Caribbean frivolity laced with great rhymes ("I don't wear Crocs and I don't wear sandals / The pump don't work 'cause the vandals took the handle") and a sleepy, George Clinton groove.
But much of the album, while usually loud, is surprisingly minimalist -- in good ways (the spliced samples and spacious beats of "Long Burn the Fire") and bad (the dub instrumental "Multilateral Nuclear Disarmament," even the driving "Make Some Noise" is studded with holes and lacks a real chorus). It's still a good party, just maybe not worth fighting too hard for.
Preview the whole album here.