Hot Sauce Committee Part II album review

The Beasty Boys’ eighth studio album is as eccentric, ridiculous and pure fun as their previous offerings.

Submitted by on Sunday, 22 May 2011

(C) aftershow

Four years after 2007’s The Mix-Up, The Beastie Boys strut, twist and shake their way back with Hot Sauce Committee Part Two, their eighth studio album. Unlike the wholly instrumental Grammy Award-winning The Mix-Up, Hot Sauce Committee Part Two is business as usual for The Beastie Boys. Utterly unmistakable, eccentric, this couldn’t be anyone else.

As with 2004’s To The 5 Boroughs, this is an album put together against a grim backdrop. 9/11, Bush, Afghanistan and Iraq set the scene for the production of the former, the album cover showing the New York skyline with the twin towers of the World Trade Centre standing tall. Said grimness was closer to home with The Mix-Up.  This time band member Adam Yauch (MCA) was diagnosed with cancer.

Yauch unexpectedly delivered the news on a video he posted on Youtube in July 2009, explaining that the album release would be postponed. In October the following year the band announced Hot Sauce Committee Part One had been scrapped, but said that Part Two would be released in 2011 as planned. Although with the songs from Part One shifted to Part Two, Part Two is basically Part One, and so it’s Part Two that’s actually been scrapped in everything but name. Happily Yauch seems to be on the road to recovery and he, Michael Diamond (Mike D) and Adam Horovitz (Ad-Rock) have launched the album with the silliness fans expect.

Last year Yauch directed Fight For Your Right Revisited, a ridiculous short film featuring alternative line-ups of the band, the first with Elijah Wood, Seth Rogen and Danny McBride, the second with Will Ferrell, John C Reilly and Jack Black. Following various shenanigans around New York, including a break-dancing contest, the real Beastie Boys turn up as policeman and arrest them (with good reason too, as you’ll see if you watch the video). It’s plain ridiculous, but encapsulates the sense of irrascapability and, more than anything, fun, that have been hallmarks of the band since the 80’s. Straight from the off, they make it clear that they’re out to have a good time here as well. Yauch, Diamond and Horovitz are well into early middle-age, but these songs aren’t the lethargic fumblings of a band that has lost its way.

A quarter of a century after the release of their debut album, 1986’s Licensed to Ill, the Beastie Boys continue to rap, sample, and mix their way to the top of the hip-hop tree, or at least to a perch amongst the highest branches. Nobody sounds like them and much of their output is plain odd. Yet they’re kings of the niche they’ve fashioned for themselves and one of the most enduring hip-hop acts on the planet.

Fans and hip-hop aficionados will find plenty to like in Hot Sauce Committee Part Two and it’s already been a commercial and critical success, reaching the top ten of the American and UK album charts in its first week. For everyone else, it’ll be heavier going. Likeable and radio-friendly tunes Make Some Noise, OK, Don’t Play No Game That I Can’t Win and Here’s a Little Something For Ya aside, it’s a decent album, rather than one to fall in love with. Anyone looking for songs the caliber of Sabotage will be disappointed.

Sometimes it’s difficult to tell when The Beastie Boys’ talent ends and their gargantuan hunger to sample others’ talent begins. Beck’s a prolific pilferer of others’ music too, but he always manages to make it obvious he’s holding the reigns. That’s not the case with The Beastie Boys and often you’ll find yourself admiring others’ efforts without realising it, with them playing literal second fiddle regularly, as the extensive sample credits on Hot Sauce Committee Part Two show.

Still, the pilfering has served the men-boys well and they look set to be with us for some time yet. Now they have an expanding business empire of film companies, magazines, record labels, plus Free Tibet campaigning activities (and  even a wine blog – step forward Michael Diamond) vying for their attention, let’s hope they continue to plough their own intergalactic furrow with the same gusto. Hot Sauce Committee Part Two, and Yauch’s uncomfortable but seemingly victorious fandango with the Grim Reaper suggest we should be optimistic, even if hot sauce is more mild spice.