Hot Sauce Committee Part Two - Capitol
FILTER Grade: 88%
By Marty Sartini Garner on May 27, 2011
Don’t call it a comeback. Skipping Part One altogether, Hot Sauce Committee Part Two arrives as the true follow-up to the Beastie Boys’ 2004 spotty To the 5 Boroughs. That record’s N.Y.C. tributes and old-school leanings fell flat, and although 2007 jammer The Mix-Up won the Grammy for Best Instrumental Record, it only managed to make the Beasties’ absence from the hip-hop scene feel that much larger. Between Adam “MCA” Yauch’s cancer scare and the leisure with which the group began to reissue their back catalog—not to mention their 2007 nomination for induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame—it began to seem reasonable, even respectable, to expect the Beastie Boys to fade contentedly into their futures as legendary ex-emcees. (Not for nothing do Will Ferrell, John C. Reilly and Jack Black appear as plumped-up, not-so-future-Beasties in their recent Yauch-scripted Fight For Your Right Revisted short film.)
But don’t let their interest in their old videos fool you; these are not (and have never been) your frat brother’s Beastie Boys. With its techno-shock, hardcore buzz and jive-stepping live funk, Hot Sauce Committee Part Two is the strongest work the Beasties have put out in over a decade and comes close to replicating the dizzy highs of 1994’s Ill Communication. That record bumped G-funk up against D.C. hardcore with no apologies, hung together by virtue of the Beasties’ considerable charisma. While just as willing to stomp the distortion pedal or engage in lengthy jams, Hot Sauce Committee is a more cohesive record that comes together under the sonic authority of scattered electro squarking and a cabal of filtered and delayed microphones. The three emcees are on-point and spit with youthful fire; gone are the botched flows and clumsy deliveries that bogged down 5 Boroughs. Yauch is in particular high form, referencing CNN’s Wolf Blitzer hologram on the Nas-guesting “Too Many Rappers” and sounding as though cancer was just another sucker emcee that didn’t know its place. The sketchy beat on “Say It” is built on reconstructed samples of Ad-Rock’s fed-back guitar, while instrumental jam “Multilateral Nuclear Disarmament” sidesteps both the polemic potential of its title and the cheese-funk of past records and ends up the stronger for it. On hardcore-aping standout “Lee Majors Come Again,” the trio trade vocal leads over thick riffs, tagging their trademark group-shouts onto the ends of their lines, riding a Fugazi-thick bass groove and generally acting as if rap-metal never happened.
It’s only a matter of time before the Beasties become the third group of hip-hoppers to be inducted into the Rock Hall. But Grandmaster Flash only ever put out two studio records, and Run DMC petered out years before Jam Master Jay was murdered, which makes Beastie Boys the first group with a catalog thick enough and a fanbase large enough to risk their becoming rap’s premiere dinosaur act. Hot Sauce Committee not only confirms the Beasties to be as essential now as they were in their twenties, but it suggests that hip-hop—that young man’s swagger—can be made just as vital in middle-age as it is in youth.