Artist: Beastie Boys
Album: The Mix Up
Comments: The Mix-Up has got a lot more in common with recent Beastie Boys records than one might think.
The Beastie Boys have been putting out music since 1986, but in my opinion, they haven't put out anything truly worth while since Ill Communication. Hello Nasty was overwrought, and Through The Five Boroughs took itself too seriously to be any fun at all (although “Intergalactic” was a ballin' ass song). Still, a hip hop act with this kind of longevity is a rare thing, especially considering how the Beastie Boys have been able to evolve (almost to a fault) and avoid tarnishing their legacy with really terrible records. Even on bad albums, the Boys have been able to maintain a level of credibility and sincerity that many top 40 rap acts could never hope to achieve. As on of the most successful rap groups of all time, they have nothing to prove to me or anyone else.
At the same time, not many people are rushing to Wal-Mart to listen to three 50 year old men rap about women's rights and equality. As noble as those pursuits are, they don’t sell too well. So on The Mix-Up the Beastie Boys have fallen back on what has supported them throughout their career, which is their musical abilities. What we get is an instrumental record that is not bad, but totally unnecessary.
Something interesting about the Beastie Boys; since their days as a punk band in the early 80s, the boys have been using their own instruments to make beats for their music (not to forget the whole sampling debacle of 2003, but a lot of their stuff is self made). Which is why The Mix-Up makes more sense than people think. It isn’t like the Beasties just picked up instruments for this record, they’ve been playing for years. And to their credit, it plays through on the Mix-Up. The band works as well together as a funk-soul-rock trio as they do as a rap trio.
Still, The Mix-Up is not really anything too special. It makes for good background music, and I think it would sound good as the soundtrack to a 70s kung-fu movie, or maybe a classy remake of “Debbie Does Dallas”. The whole album is just minimal funk lounge music, never straying into uncharted waters and pushing itself, and never sounding sloppy or slack. Really, it is a pleasant album to put on while you do something else, which is a compliment in itself in some circles.
So what does an instrumental soft-funk record that features no rap what-so-ever have in common with records from one of music’s longest running and most successful rap groups? All of them are good records that don’t embarrass the artist, and both are totally non-essential. If you get The Mix-Up, you wont be disappointed and you won’t be overwhelmed. Still, if there was one act in all of hip hop that has earned this right, it is the Beastie Boys
Rating: 5 out of 10
Key Tracks: There’s no reason to single out a track, but I did like the opening track “B For My Name” more than most.
Worth The Money: No