1994, Music

Ill Communication (1994) by Beastie Boys

The Beastie Boys confuse the hell out of me on this record, but that’s probably by design and likely what endears so many people to them. I have only heard a few of their other albums but this is the most traditionally “musical” of those, so it’s the one you’d think I’d like the most.

This record combines their particular brand of (punk-influenced) hip hop with hardcore and jazz funk and world music-influenced tracks, most of which don’t have lyrics. It is extremely diverse compared to most hip hop I’m familiar with, which should be a plus for me. The reason it isn’t quite as much of a lure as it would be if this was a rock record is because, at bottom, I don’t particularly like rap and it has taken me literally tens of hip hop records before I’ve really clued in that there are some rappers I like more than others in terms of “flow”. (Those quotes are because I’m an old white guy, and that’s just what you do.) The Beastie Boys are not rappers that I particularly like if I’m going to like rappers. What I’m saying is, if this was a post hardcore record instead, I might be in love with it.

But the record is too long and there is a lot of filler, or semi-filler. Particularly with instrumental tracks late in an hour-long album, it’s easy to dismiss anything that doesn’t immediately appeal to you. I appreciate that these tracks are here, and I appreciate that they try really hard to do many different things, I’m just not sure I’m all the way there yet. I can imagine a future when, after I’ve listened to another 20 hip hop records, this one is a lot more appealing to me. But a shorter record probably would have been more immediately appealing.

I still think I like this the most of any of their records that I’ve heard, as it has more things I like than the other two. I just wish it was a little consistent, especially in the middle. A little shorter too.


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