The Beastie Boys make me smile.
With every record, the Beastie Boys reinvent themselves, even if it is only slightly. Sometimes, they take huge leaps from album to album, like License to Ill
to Pual's Boutique
. That was a big one, wasn't it? The Beastie Boys are the Becks of the hip-hop world, constantly changing and adding different elements to their music, but yet you always know that it's them. Whether it be their call-and-response rapping that they do so greatly, or their fantastic production values, the Beastie Boys are easily one of the greatest hip-hop groups to ever emerge. This album certainly does not go agasint this fact. Here, the Beasties continue their studio experimentations that began with their Paul's Boutique
and Check Your Head
. This time, though, it is a truly eclectic, and sometimes breathtaking, piece of wonderful, wonderful music.
It is evident throughout Ill Communication
that the Beasties are more creative than what you would originally have thought from their previous albums. Genres including trip-hop, 70s pimp-film funk, hardcore, atonal violen pieces, fuzzed-out metal rampages, and choirs are integrated and mized together flawlessly. Sometimes, the songs even blend together and form some sort of long, winding piece of genre-soup. Many of the songs contain studio musicians, and the Beastie Boys themselves, playing instruments. This gives the album a very natural, warm vibe that some of their albums have tended to lack in some cases. Even when they do bust out a few old-schoolers, they bury the rapping so far into the mix that it adds more to the rhythm of the songs and the overall feel. Slightly obscure samples pop in randomly, most sounding very
familiar, the most famous (and controversial) being the flute sample in "Flute Loop". It still amazes me that they can combine so many different styles into one album, and yet they all retain a similar sound and cohesiveness that most bands could never do.
, though, has it's faults, especially when it comes to the two hardcore songs "Tough Guy" and "Heart Attack Man". Though they are powerful and raging pieces of hardcore-punk, they lack that certain feel that the rest of the album has, and this is where the Beasties stumble a little bit. Not only this, but the songs stand out from the other songs. That isn't a good thing. They have also seem to have grown out of (somewhat) the sarcastic, snotty lyrics that they are most well known for. "Bodhisattva View" is a nod to Buddhist spirituality, buried in a dense wall of music, with the vocals mixed way
down, just like the rest of the albu m. The music also serves as an increase in maturity, also. Instrumentals are abundant on this album, ranging from funk that could be in Sahft
to atonal violin pieces (!). Though one would consider these experimentations useless, they allow breaks between the normal songs, and add a good dose of variety too. Many of the songs even have a wall of reverb, similar to the dub stylings of Lee "Scratch" Perry, you could say. Best of all, though, is the most well known song from Ill Communication
, "Sabotage". It rocks with a fiery vengeance, with abrasive shouting and a wall of "noise", and that bass riff
! What's even better about the song is the hilarious cop-show parody video, which is required viewing for anyone.
And as Douglas Wolk stated in his Amazon.com review:
"Ill Communication is pretty much a catalog of coolness