Beastie Boys To The Five Boroughs Review

Released 2004.  

BBC Review

As befits a bunch of wealthy, intelligent guys in their 40s the lyrics about girls,...

Chris Jones 2004

Parlophone have played this one fairly close to their chests. A blanket of security has surrounded recent publicity bashes by the Beasties. This smacks less of fears about piracy and more that the band has either veered off in a radical direction or, after 6 years, have produced a turkey. The good news is that neither outcome has occurred. This is just, well, a Beastie Boys album. It's old skool, it rocks and (and I never thought this could be said about the Beasties) it's rather sweet.

The crazy electronic experimentation of Hello Nasty has been swept under the carpet and Mike D, Ad Rock and MCA have returned to the freestyle, knockabout rhymes and drum heavy loops of old. As befits a bunch of wealthy, intelligent guys in their 40s the lyrics about girls, beer, lyrical prowess and parties are now transmuted, via the alchemical touchstone of age and Buddhism into raps concerning politics ("Time To Build"), food, lyrical prowess and erm...parties. In other words they still want to rock the house but the only people they want to offend these days are the powers that be. As they say in the aforementioned "Time To Build": 'We've got a president we didn't elect/the Kyoto treaty he decided to reject/and still the US just wants to flex...'

Taken as a whole To The 5 Boroughs is just that: an ode to their home town of New York and a celebration of its continued vivacity and diversity post 9-11: 'Brooklyn, Bronx, Queens and Staten/ from the Battery to the top of Manhattan/ Asian, Middle-Eastern and Latin/ Black and white, New York make it happen...'

Of course the best way they can do this is to liberally spice the political commentary and world-saving philosophising with the playful lyrical shenanigans that made them far more than just another white hip hop act. Little tics and stutters make it a joyous noise, as when someone shouts 'What the Helen of Troy is that?' on "Triple Trouble". On this evidence they're still not too old for the epiphet 'Boys'. And the party is still going on...

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