Beastie Boys - To The Boroughs

First the obvious; America has problems. One of the more minor ones I have stumbled upon is an unwillingness to offend. Yes, gentle reader, it may surprise you that the most violent nation on earth should quake at the thought of hurting the feelings of their fellow humans but there it is. I could go into the whys and wherefores (or my theories thereon) but what would you care? The fact is that a significant portion of the American middle class is frightfully careful not to tread on any toes as they go about their business. This is where the true sorrow of political correctness (sic and ©) lies. Now the more normally noticed effects of political correctness (sic and ©) refer to the fact that it is no longer possible for people to talk about ‘niggers’ without being told to stop it. Of course you can talk about Arabs any way you like and legislate against gay people but you just can’t say degrading things about certain, carefully selected groups of people. Which is a good thing as far as it goes. But now it seems that the reluctance to insult people has spread to a reluctance to offend the sensibilities of those most in need of having their sensibilities offended. I’m talking about Bushco here.

And so it is with Beastie Boys I know, I know but their press release said that any use of the word ‘the’ before their name will result in immediate carpet bombing or some such and so Beastie Boys it is. And Beastie Boys have gone all glazed over. I’m sure I used this figure of speech before. A band starts out setting the world aflame, throwing beds, TVs and fans out of hotel windows and insulting cripples and then, a mere twenty years later they have become neither one thing nor the other. Just going through the motions and thinking your talent will carry you through and everyone is so in awe of you that you can get away with not even really trying.

To the 5 Boroughs is fine. It’s loud, poppy and it bounces along. It’s just fine though. No longer do they sound like they are breaking any musical boundaries. No longer are they pistol whipping the drab breaks and beats of the lackluster posses, no longer are they sampling a mooing kids toy and most importantly, no longer are they insulting cripples. Of course, they never did insult any differently challenged people, it was a tabloid fiction but you know what I mean.

I will always remember License to Ill as the rip roaring childish snotty nosed rich kid whining pop collision that first got my childish snotty nosed rich kid arse into hip hop in the first place and Paul’s Boutique as one of the most unusual and astounding albums in my collection but time moves on. We all mellow and change. Perhaps it’s time MCA and Mike D hung up their boots. Time moves on and it has been proved that the money in rap will always lie in a steady stream of niggas, bitches, hos, pimps and money, that talent will lie in melding the socially conscious with the big noise and sidestepping the Democratic-nominee-style niceness that so easily can tar you if you ain’t niggabitchho-ing. Time has moved on and Disposable Heroes, The Coup and The Streets have pushed the limits and left Beastie Boys floundering in a morass that is far too mellow, all inclusive, middle class and Buddhist. They’re still on the island of Mundanity that the Manics visited to record Gold Against the Soul and This is My Truth and managed to set sail from for The Holy Bible and Know Your Enemy.

Of course, there are moments of funkiness, moments of righteous anger ‘I’m a funky-ass Jew and I’m on my way, And yes I gotta say fuck the KKK’ but then it’s lost in watery nonsense such as ‘It’s too far gone, we gotta work together it’s been too long’. Work together? All of us? Why, where do you work? What time should I turn up? Lyrics by numbers just don’t do it unless you have a really funky-assed groove going on. And this just didn’t make me shake my booty.

OK, that’s your lot. Now you can go and have a shave.

Phil Rose esq