Beastie Boys - To The 5 Boroughs (Cover Artwork)
Staff Pick

Beastie Boys

To The 5 Boroughs (2004)


The first thing you have to realize when listening to a Beastie Boys record for the first time is that everything that you hear on it is crafted with love and affection. While some may bash the Boys for extreme lengths between releases, the product given to us is always a work of art, molded by three men who share a love for music and the power that lies within it. And their newest effort is no different. As an avid fan since I first heard their tunes all those years ago (10, maybe more?), I tore in the packaging as soon as I could, and popped the CD in my car stereo for the ride home.

The most striking difference on this album, immediately that is, are the beats. Plenty of hi-rhythm hi-hat beats, tight snares, and funky bass licks. This isn't the funk/punk inspired backdrop of the last few albums. This is taking the futuristic and modern lyrical styles from Hello Nasty and transforming that into a chilled, relaxed, and beautiful backdrop over which the 3 MC's can weave their poetry. The lyrics and the style of delivery are pure Beasties. Their love of the great city of New York is shown in greater detail than ever before, their political prowess and intelligence is highlighted in their calls for change, and their humor manages to stay intact through all of that. Moreso than previous albums, the lyrics and the beats change places and intertwine with each other, with words providing the rhythm for melodic sounds, and beats providing the canvass against which they redraw their broken New York skyline.

The most important way to enjoy this record is to buy it now. Don't wait a year. Or six months. Or six weeks. I waited a couple days and am already paying for it. While the music is timeless, and let's never forget that, the Boys craft songs that exemplify the moments in time that they were written about. Throughout their history, this has been a common thread. This is hip hop for the year 2004. This is New York, three years after 9/11. This is the world in a time of crisis. And this is the Beastie Boys aging gracefully amongst a sea of sucka mc's trying to bite their style.