Beastie Boys – To The Five Boroughs Review

Beastie Boys - To The 5 Boroughs
Rating: 9.0

It’s been over 6 long years since the Beastie Boys have graced our cd players and turntables with a new album. It was well worth the wait. What is a review of the Beastie Boys doing on a website about experimental electronic art? Well, in my opinion, Beastie Boys is one of the most experimental groups that I have come across as an avid music listener. Not in a sense of how many snares can you fit into a single bar without it sounding like white noise, but in their mastery of a very diverse group of genres. They can’t be classified; they are the Beastie Boys.
To the 5 Boroughs is somewhat different from every previous release of their’s to date, but they still manage to come with the signature Beastie sound, minus the obvious (vocals). This album is reminiscent of Paul’s Boutique feel and similar to the futuristic, electronic hip hop joints on Hello Nasty. Basically, it’s a good mix of their older and newer hip hop. There is no chilled, jam songs like the album of In Sound From Way Out which was somewhat disappointing.

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I could go through the whole album, but I will highlight a few of the gems. The album starts out with the popular radio track “Check it Out”, which has a great, old school style breaks over the infamous brass stabs. When I dropped it in the car stereo, I also found that the sub bass is deep and super heavy because “nothing sounds quite like an 808.” That brought a smile to my face and I never should have doubted these geezers. “Rhyme the Rhyme Well”, has my favorite beat on the album, and the song is a bit dark which is somewhat new to the Beastie Boys. They also drop plenty of fresh lines such as “I’m not even asking, yo what’s crackin’ / serving mc’s on a platter like a baked alaskan.”

“Oh Word?” and “The Brouhaha” are just plain bangers that could get any party started. Both start out with infectious, simple electronic melodies and progress into some nice body moving business. I can barely call any of the songs fillers, they seem to blend nicely together. The crystal clear production on this album is also amazing. To the 5 Boroughs won’t let down the fans of the goofy, bizarre lyrics that the Beastie Boys are well known for. For example, “I got more rhymes than Carl Sagan’s got turtlenecks” and “I got a baddazler so my outfit’s tight.”

Here is a little criticism. As mentioned before, there was not a great mix of genres in this record; they stuck through the hip hop tempos the entire album. While this isn’t a huge problem, it was strange to see them focus on one genre and leave it at that. Some of the political stances that they take make them sound a bit whiny, regardless of if you hang to the left or right. The songs with political views still have amazing beats and rhymes.

I can’t see any real Beastie Boys fan, who has grown up with them for years, not liking this album. Except for the ones that only dug their hardcore like Aglio E Olio and think everything since then is a sell out record. Listening to this album makes me want to put on a walkman and go skateboarding (or fail miserably at trying), like in the old, nostalgic days of Check Your Head and Ill Communication. I knew I would like this album before even listening to the first track, so it’s quite hard to give it a bad review. I have one question. How many crews can fit kugel or Ron Popeil into their rhyme scheme? Not many. These guys could make an entire record out of kitchen appliance sound effects and it still would be amazingly funky.