Album Review: Beastie Boys – Hot Sauce Committee, Part 2

Originally slated for release in September 2009, the Beastie Boys’ Hot Sauce Committee, Part 2 finally arrives tomorrow. After their 2004 tribute to New York, To the 5 Boroughs, and 2007’s instrumental The Mix-Up, fans and critics alike have eagerly awaited a return to form. The group’s strongest record since 1998’s Hello Nasty, Hot Sauce Committee Part 2 is well worth the wait.

Sonically, Hot Sauce Committee* harks back to the group’s post-Paul’s Boutique period, when the boys picked up their instruments – a decision that was equal parts creative and necessary (sampling your own instrumental diversions is much easier than clearing a hundred-odd samples). Sinister riffs on “Say It” and “Long Burn the Fire” are reminiscent of “Sabotage,” in style if not substance. Funky basslines range from the subtle and upright (“Nonstop Disco Powerpack”) to the metallic and slinky (“Funky Donkey”). Drum lines are straightforward and old school, a reassuring constant on a musically varied record.

As for guest spots, the album bats .500. “Too Many Rappers” features Nas, but the two-year gap between its original release and this one doesn’t do the boastful space jam any favors. However, Santigold (who appears poised for a big return after her 2008 dominance and subsequent hiatus) is a perfect fit on the dubbed-out “Don’t Play No Game That I Can’t Win.”

Comprising most of the soundtrack for Fight For Your Right (Revisited), “Make Some Noise” opens the record on a triumphant, nostalgic note. Wah wah guitar, pass-the-mic battle rapping, and blasts of synthesized noises provide a deep well for the Beasties throughout the entire album; they’re in their comfort zone. A welcome break from this formula is “Lee Majors Come Again,” a nod to their hardcore roots and late 70s coming of age.

Hip hop relevance is hard enough for artists half their age, but the Beastie Boys seem to manage it with ease. They have such a trademarked style, both lyrically and musically, that Hot Sauce Committee is immediately familiar but never boring.

*Dropping the “Part 2” for convenience. This release is comprised of the songs that were supposed to be Part 1, which is now in musical limbo.

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