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Hot Sauce Commitee Part Two
Sizzling comeback from The Beasties
Peter Murphy, 21 Apr 2011
Don’t ask why they’re releasing Part Two before Part One: it’s a long and convoluted story involving re-recording and sequencing and so on. The point is, HSC2 is the first Beasties album in seven years, not counting the instrumental interlude The Mix Up.
Sixteen bars into ‘Make Some Noise’ and you figure little has changed: a whole heap of hooting and hollering set against gymnastic breakbeats spiced with superfly 70s ornamentation courtesy of the usual suspects: Mike D, MCA and Ad Rock, plus Mixmaster Mike and Money Mark (and, this time out, walk-ons from Nas and Santigold). But stick with it and the agenda goes dayglo. HSC2 often sounds like Maggot Brain meets Bambaataa’s graffiti futurism meets Herbie Hancock meets white dopes on punk.
So what’s the problem? None, save this: after six, seven, eight Beasties albums, even the most dedicated listener must concede they’re a mood thing. The Boys do block parties, skip-rope rhymes and tenement hootenannies. They do great party music. Great housecleaning music. Great cardio-vascular workout music. But they don’t float during twilight hours.
Gumbo analogies are best. There’s a passage in Cormac McCarthy’s play The Sunset Limited in which a black ex-con explains the tenets of soul food to a suicidal white professor: “You got many parts of the world in that pot yonder... You know these French chefs in these uptown restaurants? You know what they like to cook? Sweetbreads. Tripe. Brains. All that shit they don’t nobody eat. You know why that is? A challenge. That’s right. The stuff they cook is dead cheap. Most folks throw it out. Give it to the cat. Poor folks don’t throw nothin’ out.”
Nor do the Beasties it seems. If HSC2 does nothing else, it highlights how generic most hip-hop has become. Here are subsonic dub basslines, hip-shaking lovers’ rock skanks (‘Don’t Play No Game That I Can’t Win’), snotty punk rock (‘Lee Majors Come Again’), more slogans about rockin’ the house until the break o’dawn, synth pop novelty sounds, broken stereo sounds, vocoder transmissions, sounds like dentists drills and space invaders games, whipcrack trap-kit beats. Titles like ‘Nonstop Disco Powerpack Problem’, ‘Funky Donkey’, ‘Crazy Ass Shit’ and ‘The Lisa Lisa/Full Force Routine’. Throw it all in the pot. Cook it up. Leave to simmer three days or more. I’ll have seconds when I’ve walked this one off.