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Beastie Boys

To the 5 Boroughs

By Jim Fester

Fort Wayne Reader

2004-06-28


I suppose if youíre out of the spotlight for six years and come back sounding like youíve never left, thatís sort of a triumph, isnít it? The Beastie Boysí To the 5 Boroughs picks up where their last major release, Hello Nasty, left off in 1998, which is to say it sounds a bit like it came from the 80s, but a bit more interesting 80s than the decade I remember. All the things that made the Beastie Boys one of rapís few cases of longevity are here: the goofy/funny rhymes, the left-field pop culture references, the juvenile sense of humor, the old-school beats. They slam George Bush, praise New York, and swear. But thereís something missing here. The sonic innovation that was one of the groupís hallmarks, the adventurousness that made License to Ill, Paulís Boutique, and Check Your Head so distinctive from one another and from any other rap, rock, or pop album of their time, is gone. Thereís nothing on To the Five Boroughs that you havenít heard before, which doesnít necessarily make it bad, but does make it pretty boring in spots. Itís like a reunion album from a group that never broke up in the first place. Of course, that may be the point: the Beastie Boys release albums so infrequently that itís easy to forget theyíve been with us for nearly two decades ó not bad for a group many dismissed as a circus act. Maybe after nearly 20 years, itís more about maintaining your status than breaking new ground.

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