When Hip Hop was young, it was broadcast by any means necessary. As the musical and cultural revolution grew beyond the first DJ scratches, the music began to find a platform in the form of old Casio keyboards, crapped out beat machines, broken microphones, wherever it could find a source to display it’s power. Over the years, as Hip Hop has become a business, the entire idea of a once struggling music finding artistic freedom in whatever was at hand, has fallen by the wayside. Now there are studios, pro-tools, samplers and producers getting paid millions to make a rapper sound like an MC.
Enter the Hip Hop Tardis and travel back in time with Hot Sauce Committee Part 2, the new joint from the Beastie Boys. After a seven-year hiatus from new material, New York’s original white rap crew has taken a huge step forward in their career by taking three or four steps back musically. I don’t mean that the creative juices flow stale, but that the Beastie Boys have gone so far back into the old school that Hot Sauce Committee Part 2 could be called preschool.
This is an album of mix and matched beats, bass lines and assorted sounds all brewed together into a B-Boy Bouillabaisse for a new age. The quality of the vocals stretch from over biased and disturbing to so slow you’d be sure they were recorded on a two-inch tape that was caught up in the reel to reel. Hot Sauce Committee bases it’s sound in the granite of old 12” singles from the likes of Afrika Bambaataa, Grandmaster Caz, Grandmaster Flash or any of the first wave of Hip Hop artists.
Interestingly Hot Sauce Committee Part Two opens up with the only easily identifiable single on the album. “Make Some Noise” is classic Beastie Boys in the “B-Boys Making With The Freak Freak” and “Skillz To Pay The Bills” style. The release of the single and the star studded video had many thinking that the Beasties might have lost their creative way, that they just wanted to cash in on their legend. By the second tune “Nonstop Disco Powerpack” that whole idea is defunct. The old school kicks in here but from an age few dare to go back to. Most rappers that attempt to add an old school flavor snatch it from the mid to late eighties. “Nonstop Disco Powerpack” goes back to the late seventies or early eighties sound. A straight drum loop with no bells or whistles. When the boys drop in the vocals, the old school is open for classes.
“OK” is the first real dip into how bizarre Hot Sauce Committee Part Two is going to get. The music comes off like something stolen from an early electronic pop band fueled by love for rap. Remember tunes like “Yo Little Brother” or “Rumors”? “OK” is the Beasties dropping their lyrical Jedi back flips all over that kind of musical structure. “Too Many Rappers” is a full on attack towards the commercialization of Hip Hop but with a funky head-bop drum line and spaceship sound effects. The addition of Nas is a great touch as he demonstrates not only his flow but also the respect the Hip Hop community at large has for the Beastie Boys.
Then, suddenly, the album gets real. Right as your bopping and thinking the feel of Hot Sauce Committee is locked into your synapses, the Beastie Boy flip the script. Starting with “Say It”, the acid kicks in and suddenly Hip Hop has kaleidoscope eyes. “Say It” is performed through a curtain of noise and over biased microphones. There’s also what might be a guitar or at least guitar feedback. Imagine the Beastie Boys rapping over Throbbing Gristle. “Don’t Play No Game That I Can’t Win” turns on another dime and drops a thick reggae flavor into the Beastie’s sauce. Knowing how much they love the Bad Brains you could argue this is somehow a nod to them that uses the dub style the legendary hardcore group mixed into their sound.
The last half of Hot Sauce Committee Part Two is more stream of consciousness than anything the Beastie Boys have done before. “Long Burn The Fire” posses the same noisy structure and oddity of sound that “Say It” has, while “Funky Donkey” is a short burst of freestyle rhymes over a James Brown funk with shades of Asian percussion. “Tadlock’s Glasses” and “Lee Majors Come Again” are frenetic bursts of noise mixed with drum loops and guitars. If Hot Sauce Committee Part Two was a musical nervous breakdown, these two songs would be the last rattling of sense as it was choked from the brain.
Hot Sauce Committee Part Two could be the same ahead-of-the-curve album that Hello Nasty was. These days Hip Hop is falling apart. Bogged down by pop singer hooks and bloated self-aware lyrics about how hard it is to be rich or be a gangsta or whatever. Eventually musical entropy will set in and the genre will be forced to breakdown to survive. It’s the same as the punk movement of the early seventies when rock had become overloaded with arena rock and needed to fall to be rebuilt. Hip Hop has only grown since its inception and that kind of growth will eventually lead to collapse.
Hot Sauce Committee Part Two is where Hip Hop will be going when the bloat is drained and artists go back to the origin in order to create the future. It may not happen for a few years, but it will and when it does people will point to Hot Sauce Committee Part Two as a pivotal point in the history of Hip Hop. The only melancholy part of this album is the current status of the group itself. Adam Yauch (aka MCA) has been plagued with health issues, which has led to many speculating that this album could be the swan song of the Beastie Boys career. If it is it would be just like the Beastie Boys to walk away from the party and leaving behind a blueprint album that will drive the genre into it’s next phase.
The Beastie Boys have made an intelligent dance record that’s littered with experimentation, artistic freedom and true vision. This is an album that will drive you to want to create music or just bust out some linoleum for a breaking battle at the Roxy. Hot Sauce Committee Part Two is proof positive that this is the Beastie Boys’ world, we just live in it.
CRAVEONLINE RATING 10 OUT OF 10