Beastie Boys' Hot Sauce Committee: First impressions

Does it sound as awkward as it arrived? (Short answer: nope)
Does it sound as awkward as it arrived? (Short answer: nope)

Update: The full version of the group's celebrity-studded video is now available on Hulu.

Three weeks ago, the Beastie Boys' "Make Some Noise" single from new album Hot Sauce Committee leaked on the web to overall excitement and positive criticism, and now the entire album -- their 9th as a trio -- has escaped top secret status and followed suit. If there's one thing the Boys have increasingly excelled at throughout their 20+ years in hip-hop, it's their knack for handling everything from politically-motivated tours to album leaks with their very specific combination of kooky and cool, adjusting to meet challenges of Music Industry 2.0 with class and humor.

Just as they did when the single dropped without their stamp of approval, the Beasties are now offering the "dirty" version of HSCv2 for streaming on their web site (it's the "clean" version that leaked).

Via today:

Good people, unfortunately due to circumstances beyond our control, the "clean" version of our new album, The Hot Sauce Committee pt 2 has leaked. So as a hostile and retaliatory measure with great hubris we are making the full explicit aka filthy dirty nasty version available for streaming on our site. We hope this brings much happiness, hugs, and harmony. Enjoy Kikoos for life!

Thank you, The Management

Beastie Boys' Hot Sauce Committee: First impressions

At first listen,


is a relief -- not only because it's clear these three dudes (who are now well into their 40s) are still relevant as rappers and cultural icons, but because their 8th studio album is musically and lyrically evolved well beyond

2004's disappointing To The 5 Boroughs

. Since the latter slumped onto the scene and faded into the background of the group's unquestionably influential discography, the Boys have made limited forays into the public eye aside from a

2008 tour stumping for Obama,

a 2009 announcement of MCA's throat cancer and whispers about the Hot Sauce discs (which started in 2009 with a leak of "Too Many Rappers" feat. Nas).

But over the last month or so, there's been Beastie news practically every week, heavy today with the streaming site and the preview of what promises to be a highly entertaining 30-minute video. "Fight For Your Right Revisited" features cameos by AdRock, MCA and Mike D., and an impressive Hollywood cast including Jack Black, Will Ferrell, and John C. Riley, who break out the early B-Boys iconography to portray two rivaling imitation Beastie crews. The end result can only be random and hilarious in typical Beastie style.   

Now, onto the album. Here's our track-by-track first impressions, in emphatic order.

"LONG BURN THE FIRE":  Slow swagger not unlike "Car Thief" with choppy scratching, organ synths and cameo-style verses by all three. (Adrock: "I'll make ya sick like a Kenny Rogers roaster")

"CRAZY ASS SHIT": Chorus features BS200-reminiscent samples of adorable kids' voices but remains one of the fuller-sounding tracks on the album.

"HERE'S A LITTLE SOMETHING FOR YA": Quintessential "new" Beastie Boys. Sonically experimental and multilayered but still danceable; smart and fitting lyrics. Recalls Hello Nasty. (Adrock: I'm lookin' fine / gettin' much finer / steady loungin' in the Lay-Z-Boy recliner)

"MAKE SOME NOISE:" First single. Catchy with plodding analog synths and dissonant samples. This album's version of To The 5 Boroughs' "Ch-Check It Out" but better.

"DON'T PLAY NO GAME THAT I CAN'T WIN": Guested by Santigold, recalls sunny reggae and dub numbers; perfect hot summer jam.

"MULTILATERAL NUCLEAR DISARMAMENT":  Amazing title. No lyrics. Lovely slow-burner perfect for sparking up and sinking into an old plushy couch.

"OK":  Bouncy and whimsical with full, rounded beats and a really cool distorted vocal bridge at 1:22.  Potential for really good remixes and hot breakdance sessions but kind of obnoxious with an "OK!" hook that should've died with Lil' Jon's relevance.

"SAY IT": Another aggressive one that sounds like Check Your Head on steroids.

"LEE MAJORS COME AGAIN": Remember Some Old Bullshit or Aglio E Olio? Punk influences resurface with high-speed riffs, chaotic beats and in-your-face lyrics.

"THE LISA LISAFULL FORCE ROUTINE" - Half instrumental with backspun samples and fuzzy beats.  Ends as the closing track and under 30 seconds long with all three yelling "NEW YORK CITAAAAY!"   

"TADLOCK'S GLASSES": Apparently a reference to Elvis' old bus driver, of all things, and was to originally be the project's title. Crawling arcade-style beats and funneled vocals make this one of the more experimental tracks on the album. The kind of track you'd expect to be "hidden" on the CD (remember those?).

"FUNKY DONKEY": Just like the title sounds. Silly and fun but nothing incredible. 

"TOO MANY RAPPERS feat. NAS (NEW REACTIONARIES VERSION)": A lesser version debuted in summer 2009 and as an appetizer to the album does quite well. Set against the other tracks seems lacking, out of step and lyrically disappointing (Is Nas seriously rapping about Christian Leboutins and did Adrock just say "crap rappers" twice?).

Overall we're super excited about this release and about the Boys' seemingly unwavering longevity. The Beastie revolution continues.

Album rating: A very solid B+

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