August , 2011
Review by Roy Turner
"Hot Sauce Committee Part II"
Label: Grand Royal Records
After Adam Yauch's throat cancer forced the Beastie Boys to take a hiatus, the trio is back with their best album in over a decade, a throwback that's closer to License to Ill than to any album since. The beats are unmistakably Beastie and the Boys sound as good as ever trading barbs and grandstanding on the mic. Most importantly - and perhaps most intangibly - Hot Sauce Committee Part 2 just sounds like the Beastie Boys. After 2007's foray into instrumental music, Ad Rock, MCA, and Mike D are back to making actual hip-hop, and they're doing it the same way they always have - with exuberant verses full of boasts and stories.
Indeed, on Hot Sauce, the Beastie Boys fully embrace their position among hip hop's elder statesmen. “My rhymes age like wine as I get older/I'm getting bolder/ competition is waning” raps MCA on the album's opening track.
The Beastie Boys aren't hiding their grey hair. Instead, they're busy reinvigorating the group's early sound with a couple of new flares and some amped up production value. They aren't necessarily pushing the edge of the envelope - they've done that already. Rather, they're taking the sound they pioneered and adding some new grit on the low end and some flourishes on the top. In the late 80's, the three youngsters' unfounded claims of being the best added to their cheeky charm; here, those claims seem less like thumps on the chest and more like pats on the back.
After two attempts to redefine their sound even slightly were met with lukewarm response, they're back to their old mischief, pointing their lenses inward and touting their lyrical skills and various exploits. The lyrics on Hot Sauce aren't revelatory or particularly profound, but then again, they never have been much for that sort of weight.
Additionally, each time the trio recruits outside help, the result is spot on. On Too Many Rappers, Nas easily fits in as a temporary fourth Beastie Boy. Similarly, Don't Play No Game That I Can't Win, rides a sunny reggae hook that sounds like it couldn't be sung by anyone but popstress Santigold. Both tracks, rare collaborations for the Beastie three, are album highlights.
Hot Sauce is neither an attempt to relive the glory days nor is it an attempt to rebalance a working equation. Instead, it's three old friends getting back to what made them - on street stoops about how fly they are, without paying attention to who might be walking by. These dudes paid their dues in the eighties and nineties, and albums like Paul's Boutique and License to Ill are among the best of all time. Hot Sauce Committee Part 2 is not such a classic, but it's a reminder of just how powerful they remain.