Beastie Boys - Hello Nasty (9)
This, the fifth album proper from the highly respected Beastie Boys, arrives with an accompanying tidal wave of awe and expectation. Since their humble beginnings as a gang of New York slackers hoping to achieve some measure of success with their white-boy hip-hop, the Beasties have reached the point, with 'Hello Nasty', where any new album from them is going to be received with the respect accorded similar new product from the giants of the genre, Public Enemy and Wu Tang Clan.
Besides their four previous albums, the Beastie Boys have formed their Grand Royal record label and produced and released albums by artists such as Luscious Jackson, Sean Lennon and BIS. They have also poured all their energies into their Geldof-ian aim of drawing attention (and funds) towards their worthy Tibetan Freedom Concerts cause (the brainchild of Adam Yauch aka MCA), convincing all their music chums to contribute their time and work towards the series of concerts organised to raise awareness and money for the beleaguered Buddhist victims of Chinese oppression.
'Hello Nasty' has been received with the slavering devotion usually accorded a new Bob Dylan album and it doesn't disappoint. Twenty-two tracks containing enough sounds, styles and ideas to keep even the most ardent hip-hop devotees and samplers satisfied for quite a while. The Beastie Boys have put out a selection of songs that run from your basic, bland and seemingly boring by-the-book hip-hop to some of the most innovative music available on CD today. The reams of rappy lyrics on this album have been reprinted on the CD booklet, for those who feel a need to know exactly what it is they are shouting about.
The few songs that jump out immediately include the first single 'Intergalactic' that, as with most of these tracks, doesn't attempt to do too much or include too many diversionary tactics. A basic beat with the song title mentioned regularly soon becomes infectious thanks to the small sliver of screechy strings that beef up the otherwise ordinary chorus. 'Super Disco Breakin'' kicks off the album with its car alarm in the background and its call-to-arms chorus of "BBoys to the break of dawn, BGirls be rockin' on and on".
'Remote Control' works off a simple and repetitive guitar riff and 'Song For Junior', a nod towards Herbie Mann and Santana's 'Evil Ways', provides a breezy, Latin catharsis in the middle of the album. This is followed by the unexpected Britpoppy, soft, acoustic feel of 'I Don't Know' before the Boys get back to the beats they do best.
'Hello Nasty' is an album that demands patience and repeated listenings to grasp all the elements lurking within its widescreen ambitions. It is probably pumping out of every beat-box in the Manhattan and Brooklyn parks where the kids from 'Kids' hang out. Listening to it quietly in an office is as effective as trying to appreciate the Sex Pistols while sipping wine on the veranda of a Bantry Bay apartment. But this is the cutting edge of pre-millennium New York hip-hop and as such deserves respect and attention. Fortunately it rewards such devotion with an album that is long on creativity and enjoyment and short on the "ho-hum" factor.
'Hello Nasty' is one of the most important releases of 1998 and may yet prove to be the best.
Stephen "Sugar" Segerman
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