To the 5 Boroughs Album reviews.
Release Date: 06.15.04
Record label: Capital Records
Genre(s): Rap, Hip-Hop, R&B, etc.
The Hiatus is Back Off, Again
by: tom reiter
So it's been six years since the Beasties put out Hello Nasty, which, for all it was worth, was O.K. During that time, fans patiently waited to hear what the trio was inventing in their lab this time around. To be perfectly honest...nothing! While Mike D, Adrock, and MCA are well known for their forays into funkadelic instrumentals, rock/punk-infused gender benders, and experimental DJ sets (thanks to Mix Master Mike), they forgoe all of the afformentioned for some straight up, old-school, DJ-Mic-M.C. hip-hop. Not since Paul's Boutique has there been a Beastie Boy album quite like To the 5 Boroughs.
Starting things off is "Ch-Check It Out", which represents in full Beastie form with uptempo beats, horn blasts, and easily understood lyrics. It also happens to be the first single from the album. "Right Here Right Now" is the first evidence of the Boys taking on a political agenda that exists throughout Boroughs ("Columbine bowling, childhood stolen, we need a bit more gun controlling."and "I'm getting kind of tired of the situation/the U.S. attacking other nations...") But then again, what else do three late 30yr olds have to talk about? The Beasties are above and beyond their young years of partying, so they use this as an opportunity to raise the hip-hop community's awareness of what's going on, and personally, I think that's o.k. We can all choose to agree with them or not, but we SHOULD think about it. For more details on their opinions, check out "Time to Build" which is entirely devoted to political issues.
But Boroughs isn't all business, there's plenty of representin' of old-school rhymin' as well. "3 the Hard Way" samples LL Cool J's "Radio" for it's base, and the 3 flex their skills on top. Also in this same vein is "Triple Trouble", which is the same stuff but over a sample from "Rapper's Delight". Boroghs doesn't stray far from this forumla, with big programmed beats, tight hi-hats, and rim shots on top of simple loops ("Oh Word" being the best example).
The Beasties pay tribute to the boroughs with "An Open Letter to NYC". If you aren't from NY, this song doesn't mean much, but it's still good none-the-less. "Crawlspace" is the low point on the album. The funky bass doesn't seem to quite fit the beats and rhymes well, and the refrain break is awkward. But things bounce right back with an "Intergalactic" flashback on "The Brouhaha". "We Got The" finishes things up with a reminder that we still have the power to fight for what we believe: "who got the power to make a difference? who got the power to make change? who got the power to make a difference? we got the-we got the-we got the..."
So sit down (when you don't have the urge to dance), enjoy some old-school hip-hop, and think about what's goin' on. 13-Jul-2004 11:47 PM