My understanding is that this is the Beastie Boys’ best record. But I have come at it a super weird way, having heard three other records of theirs first, completely out of chronological order. So whatever awe I might have experienced hearing this immediately after Licensed to Ill is just not happening because of this, having listened to other, later records of them in the meantime, but also being fairly familiar with their biggest singles throughout their career.
Musically it is, as far as I know, extremely diverse for hip hop in 1989. It’s not quite as diverse as at least one of the later records of theirs I’ve heard, but that album stopped being hip hop at times. This record doesn’t go that far, but it sure goes further out than the little bit of hip hop I’ve heard from the 1980s (including their debut).
The lyrics are also more sophisticated, or at least significantly different, than most of the rap I’ve heard from this era, at lot of the time. They come at it from a very different perspective than most rappers of their era, to the best of my knowledge.
But I still really don’t like the delivery. I can intellectually appreciate how sometimes it was pretty unique – I suspect that when they each take a word, that was pretty strange – but it still sounds so dated to my ears. At least this is still the ’80s. They’ll just never be rappers I love, as far as I can tell.
So I find myself thinking this is one of those records which I intellectually know is good but I just can’t get into. It’s probably even a landmark, though I do not have the context to really assert that claim. I just don’t love them as vocal performers so I find that I like the aesthetic but they bug me, and so I just can’t get into it.