Beastie Boys: The Series – To The 5 Boroughs (2004)
6 years. 6 years between Hello Nasty and this record.
I did some digging, to see what they were up to in all that time, and they were not entirely idle. 1999 saw the release of Beastie Boys Anthology: The Sounds Of Science compilation, as well as the Scientists Of Sound (The Blow Up Factor Vol. 1) 12”. In 2000, they followed up with the Beastie Boys Video Anthology (Criterion). They did tour Hello Nasty into 1999 and 2000, then fewer dates in 01-03. So, while those anthologies are awesome, and touring is always a good idea, 6 years is still a stretch.
Whatever. I think it was worth it.
Of course, there’s more info right here.
Ch-Check It Out was a single, you’ll know it. It’s a monster track, super-fun. A real return to form, and as album opener!
Right Right Now Now was another single, and it sounds (to me) like the RZA did the music for it. That’s a cool thing! “It’s been too long” works on so many levels, here. This track has a great groove, and a great message. Yum.
3 The Hard Way is funky slinky and a little wonky-sounding, but it’s all good. Oh man it’s good to hear these guys having fun.
It Takes Time To Build has a really tight sound – in the 80s, it would have been done on a Casio keyboard. This is a very political track, openly questioning the leaders and their choices. Some funny alien advice at the end, too.
Rhyme The Rhyme Well is nother tight-sounding track, and it has a big fat ass. Cool song, and a fun outro.
Triple Trouble was a single, another old school B-Boys romp that samples big-time from Rapper’s Delight. Yes, Yes, YES!
Hey F*?# You is a funny little track bashing other rappers. A cool jam, too. Usually I get tired of rappers posturing, but when the Beasties do it, well, that’s OK by me.
Oh Word is a funky jam slathered in weird electronic noises. It definitely fits the record, if saying that makes any sense at all. It made sense when I was typing it…
That’s It That’s All keeps that old school ball rolling. I’m lovin’ it.
All Lifestyles picks up the pace quite a bit, turns the bass lower yet and makes you need to move your ass. Also, it has a great message of inclusion. I’m with it, y’all.
Shazam! is so simple, musically. Almost thin. But it’s refreshing. It sounds like they could jam this one on a street corner.
An Open Letter To NYC was a single, and deservedly so. It’s an ode to their hometown, and mentions 9/11 and the fallout. I love the Dead Boys Sonic Reducer sample – my ears perked right up.
Crawlspace is a funky mover, a little silly, but hey who cares? Just move!
The Brouhaha is yet another old school jam. Man, I’m loving these tracks. It’s just FUN.
We Got The is an electro dance-style track. Interesting, and a bit of an odd way to end an album. Nevermind, it’s a real party jumper.
In sum: This is a very different record. It’s still goofy, it’s still sassy, they’re still on top of their game and they sound as good as ever (though MCA sure sounded rough). But there’s a lot of heavy stuff here, too. A sign of maturity, surely. And don’t forget, their beloved hometown went to hell on 9/11, and frankly the city’s still feeling the aftereffects of that even now, so there’s that, too.
Also, I don’t think it’s fair to compare this to Hello Nasty, though that’s what people would inevitably do since this is HN’s (belated) follow-up. HN was so full, so big-sounding. Lots of extras. Whereas, TT5B is (especially in comparison) more sparse… looking back, perhaps, at the earlier days.
Perhaps most interesting is the lack of instrumental and/or hardcore tracks. I don’t know why they left them out, if there were any recorded for it.
So? Honestly, we didn’t have to wait 6 years for this. But we did, and it’s a truly cool record. I loved it.