To the 5 Boroughs
First Appeared in The Music Box, September 2004, Volume 11, #9
Written by T.J. Simon
It was 18 years ago when the Beastie Boys first broke into the mainstream with License to Ill, but who would have guessed that these goofballs would still be musically relevant nearly two decades later. Fight for Your Right to Party was a fun enough song for its time, but it didnít exactly spring from a creative force with a seemingly long-shelf life. Nevertheless, To the 5 Boroughs, the latest endeavor from the ensemble, draws heavily from the back-to-basics, beats-and-rhymes, old-school hip-hop approach popularized by the band so very long ago.
Although To the 5 Boroughs was produced by the three members of the Beastie Boys, it sounds a lot like the production work of Rick Rubin circa 1985. The disc is also a sonic-twin to LL Cool Jís debut Radio, and the Beasties sample a bit of that album on the 3 the Hard Way. There are no punk-rock experiments or rap-rock anthems (Š la Sabotage) on the new disc, but listeners will find it to be the most dance-friendly collection from the group thus far. This makes sense since old-school rap evolved from disco, and many of To the 5 Boroughsí songs , including Triple Trouble and Thatís It Thatís All, will sound at home in dance clubs as well as boominí from car stereos.
Lyrically, many of the songs are a tip-of-the-hat to New York City life, most notably the affectionate An Open Letter to NYC. The boys also bust out a battle rap that disses an unnamed Sucka MC on Hey Fuck You. There are plenty of progressive political sentiments throughout the record, as well, and many of them are directed at President Bush, which gives To the 5 Boroughs about a 50-50 shot at being at total obsolescence come November. The albumís packaging embeds lyric sheets with funny "editorís notes" that have the boys commenting on the quality and accuracy of their own rhymes.
For those who canít stand hip-hop or the Beastie Boys on general principle, thereís nothing on To the 5 Boroughs thatís going to change that perspective. However, those seeking a nostalgia trip through the good old days of rap ó think Run-DMC, LL Cool J, and Slick Rick ó thereís plenty to enjoy on this fine collection. Ĺ
To the 5 Boroughs is available
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1 Star: Pitiful
2 Stars: Listenable
3 Stars: Respectable
4 Stars: Excellent
5 Stars: Can't Live Without It!!
Copyright © 2004 The Music Box