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ARTIST – Beastie Boys
ALBUM – Ill Communication
YEAR – 1994

The Beastie’s fourth release, in my view, evidently, is their best – actually, make it my favourite. It’s always a matter of judgment whether a record is a band’s best or not. So, in order to prevent heated debates, I consider this to be the trio’s most appealing, again, in my opinion.
This 1994 release has got such an urban sound. It’s raw and powerful, even if it has elements of buddhist hymns mixed in. I have detected a pattern in my posts. It’s the fact that the albums I choose are the most complete, in the sense that they can be listened to from start to finish without fast-forwarding or song skipping. The selections have all been based on personal motives and this pattern I guess represents the reason why I chose these particular recordings.
Nowadays, the Beasties are more mature and their albums are evidence of that. Their material has volume and depth and range. But the one that most pleases these ears is ILL COMMUNICATION.
It was produced by Mario Caldato Jr., a native of Brazil and master mind behind other great releases. It had the Grand Royal label behind them, now extinct – a pitty. It’s got some wicked collaborators, such as A Tribe Called Quest’s Q-Tip and Biz Markie. The songs, one after the other, seem to follow no logical flow. In fact, the mix-up is what’s appealing. From the first track, “Sure Shot” to the fourth, instrumental, “Bobo On The Corner”. It’s really a great compilation of these artist’s talents. A quick reminder, that I’m afraid not many people are aware of, is that the three man group play real instruments – yes, believe it or not, Adam “MCA” Yauch, Adam “Adrock” Horovitz and Mike “Mike D.” Diamond play the fuck out of the bass, guitar and drums, respectively. And what sounds, man.
The personal feel of Ill Communication represents a very urban, very cosmopolitan sound. It’s got a rough-cut, vinyl, scratchy sound. The beats, therefore, seem to stand out through the static. The rhymes are, as always, grand. You must listen to this album, start to finish. The, and only then, can you have a reasonable understanding of what I’m blabbering about.
The 70s funky grooves are also thrown in there. And yes, I do love the 70s. The discoesque vibe on some of the instrumental tunes are brave, crammed in the album among big, heavy tracks.
I love this album. One that goes on my all-time top 10 list. Yeah, I think it’s that fucking good.
It also has a close to home feel ’cause of the time I acquired it. It was during my last year living in Canada, while I was in my teens. It was a good time – nostalgia has once again kicked in. Sorry about that. I don’t wanna get all emotional and shit. So, let’s move on.
To the songs. Number one: “Sure Shot”, “’cause you can’t, you won’t and you don’t stop.” is the chorus on the first track, and perfectly introduces this talented trio of rappers/rockers/posers/tibetan freedom fighters/producers/musicians, etc. The next track, “Tough Guy” is a rare specimen nowadays, that brings back earlier recordings, in particular their first “Licensed to Ill” – it was their rock/rap interpretation. The french woman on the, I believe, answering machine is great, that kicks off “B Boys Makin’ with the Freak Freak”. The flowing beats and distorted vocals, together with the samples… Damn… “Root Down” became a classic, along with “Sabotage”, also thanks to Spike Jonze and his awarded and celebrated music video. Probably my top selection is “Get It Together”. I imagine you’re probably thinking “that’s obvious”. Well, it is. Q-Tip’s vocals and demeanor sums it all up. He’s the shit! This song’s got a particular sweet feel, sort of 70s alcoholic good cop movie – whatever the fuck that means. You figure it out! “Sabrosa” is the 70s tribute, for real. The guitar riffs in the intro are there, man, check it out. It’s like the theme song for some cheesy TV show. Moving on, “Alright Hear This” is cool, it’s got these wicked scratches and big ass bass, coupled with fast, brutal vocals – awesome! But then, it gets better. It’s “Flute Loop”, with Adrock’s screechy and almost angry and matter-of-fact rhymes. The flute moves the song along through the chorus. Really good tune. The outro, “Transitions” has a brilliant build-up. It’s an instrumental song, but a damn fucking good one. The drums coming in at the intro is sweet – almost accoustic. This closes a perfect Beastie Boys album. What a transcendental song. A top marks production and recording.
Cheers…

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