Thursday, April 23, 2009

Beastie Boys – Ill Communication

Beastie Boys
Ill Communication
Grand Royal/Capitol

Ill Communication provides a glimpse of what could have been. Back in 1994, rap had a choice. It could have followed the Beastie Boys model of live band, rock-based hip-hop. Instead, rap chose the easy cash of keyboard-driven pop and we, the listeners, are all worse off for this betrayal. Ill Communication is more than just a successful album. Did it sell millions of copies? Yes. Did it spawn a popular MTV video? You bet. Large arena tours? Totally. Cultural and critical respect? Just a smidge. More impressive than all of these accolades is the window that Ill Communication provides into a world where hip-hop didn’t sell out.

The Beastie Boys provide far more than the brand of lyrical wordplay they patented on Paul’s Boutique. The punk side of the Beastie Boys, not seen since the Polly Wog Stew days, reappears. True, the punk stuff showed up on Check Your Head but Ill Communication seems largely driven by punk rock. This would explain the jam band feel of the instrumental songs peppered throughout the album. Songs such as “Sabrosa” and “Futterman’s Rule” have a stoner-fog, spiritual punk quality that, musically speaking, is far more in line with Santana than anything with the dreaded emo label.

What’s the best Beastie Boys record? That’s a matter of debate; to be debated during internet-fuck-off time at work. Ill Communication gets my vote for the Beastie’s best. The record is powerful, timeless and a modern classic.

Beastie Boys – Ill Communication

EDIT: The Beastie Boys are a bunch of lame-os who took the link down. They now join the ranks of Landmine Marathon, Death, and Hatebreed as a bunch of sour-grape spoil sports.\\


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