Beastie Boys: The Series – Hello Nasty (1998)
It took four years for the B-Boys to follow up the monster of a record that was Ill Communication with another studio album proper (though they were hardly idle in that time), and I can remember a few friends quite concerned that they were done, that they couldn’t/wouldn’t do it. These conversations only happened because these friends really cared what happened to the Boys, and were just hoping they wouldn’t lose it.
Silly people, this is the BEASTIES.
So, Sir Earl Of Swirl, have we reached your chosen point of excitement, with this record? Or have I missed my guess?
Also, there’s lots of info here.
First off, a statement: This Should Have Been A Double Album. Think about it for a minute. What’s the best way to follow the record that gave you your Fuck You money? Hm? Double album. Go big, or go frickin’ home. Music history is littered with bands that went ambitiously into the fray, largely with great success. I’m sure you can name a few.
So, and stay with me here, if you took the tracks from Aglio E Olio (and surely there were even more than those on hand, somewhere), and mixed it all together with what ended up being Hello Nasty, you’d have a well-timed double album that would strip paint, deflower virgins and send satellites off course with its sheer mighty power. Of course, this is just my humble opinion. No one ever asks me how to do these things, at the time. I wish they would, but they don’t.
What we did get, however, was Hello Nasty. (Paint, virgins and satellites remain in peril).
And I have to be honest, at first I didn’t really like it. I don’t know why. I wish I could tell you. But my buddy Brian bought it and loved it and I heard it and passed on it. I’m trying hard to think of what the hell else I could have been listening to in 1998 to make me think that (probably a lot of radiohead’s OK Computer), but whatever it was, it wasn’t too long before I came around. And I was fully aboard once I got there. This is one helluva bomb going off in your stereo. A funk bomb. An awesome bomb. Check it out:
Super Disco Breakin’ skips and jumps in pure Beastie beauty. This is a party track! You know this song. This all folds beautifully into…
The Move, more of the same level of awesome. The bass here is huge. And they shout-out Toulouse-Lautrec, which pleases me. Add the fun Spanish thing at the end as intro to…
Remote Control, which was a single and you’ll know it well. It has that totally memorable riff, which seems so simple. It’s just a great jam, walking-pace perfect.
Song For The Man is a jazzy soul track that plays like an interlude, even though it’s still three minutes long. Cool stuff.
Just A Test is a great club track… just picture flashing lights and a dancehall with everyone jumping in time to the music…
Body Movin’, another single, is one you surely know. It’s a cool groove, complete with dance instructions, scratching, chipmunk-like vocals on the chorus…
Which leads us to the big single…
Intergalactic. I don’t need to say a word about this one, do I? You just got it in your head, didn’t you! Wow. What a huge track, and pure Beasties. It had a great video, too. I love the switch at 2:35… “mmmm drop?” So fun. There’s a silly little tag-on, too, which leads us into…
Sneakin’ Out The Hospital, a simple instrumental line with some noise experiments over top.
Putting Shame in Your Game’s wide open, big room sound, with booming bottom end, gives their raps lots of space. This one is actually pretty trippy.
Flowin’ Prose’s sweet funk groove almost hides the whispered vocals. It’s a cool effect.
And Me has a reggae-like feel, but more electronic. (Duh?) It’s definitely a departure, though, but not unlikeable.
And then we move into another huge song…
Three MCs And One DJ. You know this one. From the Mix Master Mike phone message intro right on down.. Go! Hell yeah.
The Grasshopper Unit (Keep Movin’) shuffles smoothly along, pure Beasties slathered in scratching and noises and, at points, a gospel-like vocal. It breaks down into beat boxing and then outta breath…
Songs For Junior always totally reminds me of Santana’s Oye Como Va. A Sweet instrumental jam, this one.
I Don’t Know’s cool acoustic intro picks up where Songs For Junior left off. Listen to this singer-songwriter ballad-like song, with Miho Hatori on vocals, and be a little disoriented. This is Beasties? Sounds more like the exact opposite. Which is why it works.
The Negotiation Limerick File brings back the Beasties’ forté: sweet groove, all three of them rapping over top. I really like the music, here.
Electrify is a song I’ve always thought sounds like what would happen if you let Tom Waits write a track for the B-Boys. I could be way off, in that thinking, but it’s just wonky enough…
Picture This is a great 70s lounge track, with smooth vocals from a lady named Brooke Williams. A nice interlude, into…
Unite, another great Beastie Boys anthem that’s sure to keep the party hoppin’. I like the feel of this one very, very much. “Ravers of the world unite!”
Dedication is a fun enough track musically, but pretty lazy, lyrically. They’re just shouting out place names. Upper Tasmania? Check. Gloucester, Massachusetts? Check. Ooookay, it’s the equivalent of listening to them read an atlas as they randomly flip pages open and point at places. The only cool one was “Newcastle… where Venom come from (sic)…” Yes, the B-Boys shouted-out Venom. Probably because they sampled them on CYH, as much as they’re hardcore music fans. Anyway.
Dr. Lee, PhD. features Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry and totally sounds like it. A sweet reggae slow jam. At this point in this huge, sprawling, sweaty and dripping record, anything at all would have worked. Instead, they chose greatness. Of course.
And finally, Instant Death is a plinky little number, a slow build of more quiet and whispering that becomes (eventually) a bit of a drum freak-out before fading back out, lightly. Could they have ended this record with Dr. Lee? Probably. Anyway.
In sum: Holy fuck. Anyone worried they wouldn’t be able to follow up its predecessor can rest at ease. This motherfucker of a record is huge, it’s vast, and it’s all kinds of awesome. ALL KINDS.