Beastie Boys, Hello Nasty (music review) | Gregory McNamee

Beastie Boys, Hello Nasty (music review)

Beastie Boys
Hello Nasty

So I’m driving my sports utility vehicle down a near-northside boulevard, earring and fast-graying ponytail shining in the morning sun, feeling too old and pure to be a yuppie despite my general affect and material surroundings, then feeling, well, just a little bit glum about the whole matter, when a couplet rises from the crisp mix of Hello Nasty, piercing into my consciousness like a diamond bullet: “I don’t mean to brag, I don’t mean to boast / but I’m intercontinental when I eat French toast.” Aha, I think, feeling clued in at last, Zeitgeist-wise: so that’s what the kids mean when they talk about World Beat. I mean, here are these three nice Jewish boys from Scarsdale by way of the East Village, orating as if they’d gone to school in Compton, backing their tracks with Afro-Cuban polyrhythms and Jamaican dub and Latino pop stylings—and if there were any doubt of their global credentials, well, they’ve worked international cuisine into the formula to boot. Very cosmopolitan, that, and very funky, and commercially shrewd; there’s an IHOP ad in these hip-hoppers’ future. Now, the liner copy doesn’t say a word about this World Beat stuff; instead, it makes mention of “heavy rock.” Chalk that up to the trio’s youth, I grumble, nosing said SUV into the parking lot of a fashionable café where rap music is definitely not well represented on the jukebox. Let the kids hear Blue Cheer’s Vincebus Eruptum; then they will know heavy rock for what it is. But I’m not inclined to fuss over small-scale semantics, now that my superannuated cochlea have feasted on “Super Disco Breakin’,” “Body Movin’,” “The Grasshopper Unit,” “The Negotiation Limerick File,” and twenty-odd other tunes on this massively wonderful disc. These beasties can rock. And rhyme, too.

The world exists in order to be made into a book.      – Stéphane Mallarmé