A/V Room









Beastie Boys - To The 5 Boroughs

Review: Jack Foley

GEORGE Bush seems to be taking flack from all sides, of late, as more and more artists see fit to deliver pot-shots at his administration and its policies (most notably on the environment and the war on terror).

Having been forced to watch as Michael Moore’s Fahrenheit 9/11 made cinema history by becoming the highest-grossing documentary of all-time, the US president is now ‘taking shit’ from The Beastie Boys, the no-less controversial hip-hoppers, who have a penchant for telling it like they see it.

Their latest album, which takes the form of a love letter to New York, post 9/11, is fittingly entitled To The Five Boroughs, includes a sketch of the Twin Towers on its cover, and, almost inevitably, contains some explosive commentary on the political situation.

Hence, listeners can expect to hear lyrics such as 'We've got a president we didn't elect/the Kyoto treaty he decided to reject/and still the US just wants to flex...', on tracks such as Time To Build, which show the boys have lost none of their famed lyrical dexterity.

The same sort of sentiment is echoed in Right Right Now Now, which contains the frustrated lyrics, I'm getting kind of tired of the situation / The U.S. attacking other nations, and narration, and every station.

But while they may be approaching 40, and their subject matter may be more mature, the good news is that the Beastie Boys still no how to party, and their sound remains as essential as it did all those many moons ago.

And where once they were fighting for their right to party, they now seem content to fight to be heard, having become intolerant of the political situation in a battle-scarred America.

To The Five Boroughs packs quite a provocative punch, while also harking back to the sound we grew up… and which helped to make them famous.

Gone is the electronic sound of Hello Nasty (which found them at their most experimental), and back is the freestyle, cheeky rhymes of old, combined with the trademark drum-heavy loops. This is old school hip-hop which attempts to recall the Beasties at their finest.

That said, the album isn’t purely about the politics, opting, at times, to extol the virtues of New York City, and coming across as a fond appreciation of their home city (never more so than during the sentimental lyrics of An Open Letter…).

The old-school style is also apparent in tracks such as Triple Trouble (which features a timeless sample of a hip-hop classic), as well as former single, Ch-Check It Out, which effortlessly rediscovers the Boys’ style of old, and has subsequently been picked up as bedding music for many a TV montage.

To The Five Boroughs may possess an air of familiarity about it, and the novelty value of the Boys may have diminished, but it remains an excellent album - and one which emphasis the gulf between the all-time hip-hop elite, and those who continue to strive for success by opting for cheap shock tactics.

The album may carry some serious messages, but it never forgets to provide some fun along the way.

Track listing:
1. Ch-Check It Out
2. Right Right Now Now
3. 3 The Hard Way
4. Time To Build
5. Rhyme The Rhyme Well
6. Triple Trouble
7. Hey Fuck You
8. Oh Word?
9. That's It That's All
10. All Life Styles
11. Shazam!
12. An Open Letter To NYC
13. Crawlspace
14. The Brouhaha
15. We Got The

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