Beastie Boys- To The 5 Borough’s

June 13th, 2004

Writing this review has been a tough job. Not because I’ve struggled to find anything good to say about it, rather the opposite. There’s so many moments that I’m extremely fond of, that it’s a daunting task to narrow my opinion down to a few concise paragraphs. Should I ramble on about the mix of polished new skool production with the three mc’s awesomely retro and old skool flows? Or perhaps I should dwell on the mature lyrical moments, the use of sampling and scratching at just the right place, the great art work, or the fact that this is the best states side release in hip-hop for a long time?

Stand out moments, although this seems to change with each listen, are ‘Right Right Now Now’ and its great haunting atmosphere, ‘Triple Trouble’ with its entertaining borrowing from Sugarhill Gang and the English accent, and ‘An Open Letter to NYC’ which has a great intro and even greater chorus. Every person you talk to about the release is likely to say different, as the quality control employed by the three decades old act has clearly produced a product of much depth.

Unlike recent Beasties albums (the release before this being eight years old) this affair is strictly hip-hop, stearing away from the instrumentals and more left field tracks found on Hello Nasty. This, along with the fact that there’s not one interlude track is sure to make the playback value high, with not one need to press the forward button on your remote between track 1 and 15 of this well balanced affair.

If I took look back at the hip-hop being produced twenty odd years ago and predicted how a new release would sound, the use of producers of the moment like Kanye West and The Neptunes and songs sampling female Asian vocals or using hand claps would come to mind. That’s why this release is so good. They could have gone the easy way, hired a team of musicians currently making a buzz and ended up with a huge selling album. Instead, they’ve contained their creativity in house and have still ended up with a fantastic end result, likely to sell huge numbers. But then, isn’t that what they’ve always done?