Hello Nasty

Beastie Boys

Grand Royal / Capitol Records, 1998


REVIEW BY: Sean McCarthy


In all likelihood, Hello Nasty will have a huge first week of sales. Ever since Check Your Head, interest for the next Beastie Boys album has grown considerably since their Paul's Boutique heyday. For the half- million people who were blown away with Paul's Boutique, that magic worked again with Check Your Head. By that time, the Beasties had regained their commercial clout and the result was Ill Communication, a great album but not a groundbreaker like the brilliant first three albums the Beasties did.

Now comes, Hello Nasty. And I have to give thanks to Bob for giving me a few days to review this album, because it's a dense 65 minute ride. It's sort of like being forced to read "Ulysses" for one night and then answering a question like, "Well...did you like it?". Or, "Was it as good as 'Dubliners'?"

Seven listens and I'm nowhere near a verdict. So far, it's the most challenging listen I've listened to this year and probably without coincidence, the most rewarding listen of this year. You're hooked with the first two songs. The big, sparse beats that harken back to the "When the Levee Breaks" sample that they did on "Robbin and Stealin"- off their License To Ill album. That's not the only nostalgia on the album. With Run-D.M.C. samples and an appearance by Lee Perry, it's a full claim to the old school guard of rappin' on my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250 Hello Nasty.

To an extent. On they very much played, "Intergalactic" and the extremely uneven middle half of the album, the Beastie Boys explore techno and industrial. As the album begins its superior close with "Unite", you hear, "Ravers of the world...unite!". And on the pensive, "I Don't Know", it seems like Sean Lennon rubbed off them while he was recording his solo album on the Grand Royal label.

I can not think of any rap group that has been as consistant as the Beastie Boys have been. Even though Hello Nasty does have its slow moments and some spots where it seems like Mario C injested a bit too many fungal friends, it still is an impressive statement for one of the most innovative groups in the past 20 years.

Need a reason to keep listening until this album feels just as natural as Check Your Head? Try the sweet sound of Jill Cunniff (Luscious Jackson) on "The Negotiation Limerick File". Or how about a song in which Lee "Scratch" Perry has full control over (Dr Lee, PhD). The occasional dabbling into the jazz/lounge sound that the Beasties have been seeking out since they left the Old Style drunken odes of License To Ill pop up in "The Grasshopper Unit (Keep Movin') and "And Me". About the only thing that the Beastie Boys don't do that you've come to expect is go back to their trash metal roots. Not a thrasher in the 22-song bunch.

Like Public Enemy, the Beastie Boys have been constantly trying to re-define their image and their sound. While Public Enemy have stumbled doing this (although seriously check out the excellent He Got Game soundtrack), the Beasties have been able to keep up this pace for a solid twelve years. One more solid album from these guys and they're elevated into a category that includes the Beatles for artists with exceptionally long creative streaks.

Unfortunately, Hello Nasty is not a barrier-smasher. It is only a really good release among some of the best music rap has ever created. And for being such innovators, the Beastie Boys have every right to make an album that will no doubt be debated by fans for decades to come.

I guess the only thing that the Beastie Boys could have used on this album, save an editor, is a producer. Mavericks such as Rick Rubin and the Dust Brothers were used by the Beastie Boys a full ten years before they became the choice of producers for the Rolling Stones and Tom Petty. Maybe their next they can hire a producer that can match their artistic reach and focus it. For now though, keep listening to the most ambitious album of the summer: an album that you won't feel guilty for leaving in your player for the next three months.

Rating: B+

User Rating: Not Yet Rated



© 1998 Sean McCarthy and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Grand Royal / Capitol Records, and is used for informational purposes only.