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Music
September 2, 1998
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The Beastie Boys Suck!!!


I don't know if any other genre of journalism encourages spouting the party line the way writing about music does. Someone somewhere sets an opinion--this record is brilliant, so-and-so is a genius, etc.--and everyone falls into line, which is why you can't tell "Spin" from "Rolling Stone" from anything else. And no one has them giving up their unanimous sheeplike approval more than the Beastie Boys.

Well, meet my middle finger, fellows, because I'm crashing your party line. "Hello Nasty" is their weakest, most self-indulgent chunk of plastic and, no, the boys are NOT the greatest musical geniuses of our time. Why must I rain on the parade, laugh at the funeral, pass around nude photos of Carol Channing at the circle jerk? I'll give you 17 reasons....

1. First, foremost, and most maddeningly: OVEREXPOSURE! Is there any magazine they haven't been on the cover of within the last two months? (Then again, it probably has something to do with their record being named after their publicist. And it has provided me with plenty of scurrilous information to feed my tirade....)

2. Two words: jazz fusion. The Beasties seem to be devoting more and more disc time to rambling low-energy fake jazz jams.

3. Yauch. What the hell happened with you, man? You used to be cool. You used to be the lord of chaos. Doctor Dre once said "He'd fuck the fish if they were in the fishbowl," which may not be a good thing (I hear it's a bit uncomfortable for the fish), but at least you got to make out with Madonna back when she was still a hootchie. Remember when you threw that tantrum onstage in London and wouldn't go on and then just stood in the middle of the stage in a puddle of beer howling "Bored, bored, bored, bored!!" like Johnny Rotten? Or when you would randomly shoot at cars or throw eggs at people? I don't mean you have to still be smoking dust after you've turned 30 ("I never smoked dust in my life. I was just kidding," is the current party line.) but would it kill you to rouse a little of the old anarchic spirit every now and then? Isn't there some mischievous monkey god you can channel for a few minutes? Christ, the man has even given up snowboarding because he enjoys it too much. I hear MCA don't even want to rap anymore because the energy level is too high for him.

4. Yauch's lame Nathaniel Hörnblower disguise. Whenever he wants to kick back, get a little stoopid, and have a few laughs like the rest of humanity, he has to put on a big fake mustache and stupid hat and hope the Buddha doesn't recognize him.

5. Molly Ringwald pussy-whipped Ad-Rock. Now, I'll be among the first to admit that every man needs a good whipping once in a while--but being a bitch for the bitch from "The Breakfast Club"!? Come on, man. Didn't the giant inflatable penis teach you shit!?

6. Because I'm sick of this Tibet thing. All these people with those little "Free Tibet" stickers on their cars, patting themselves on the back and networking with the other Buddhists over vegetarian food. It's like some kind of upper-middle-class, Ivy League Scientology. Get really involved in something you can't see--weep for the suffering of people halfway across the world so you don't have to think about that poor bastard starving to death on your street because, hey, you've already done your good deed for the day. I'm not going to front that the Tibet situation isn't seriously wrong and that we shouldn't try to do something about it, but there's a lot of people hurting right here in the Beasties' hometown, and I don't recall them ever throwing a concert to benefit a local cause. (I take it as a sign that lightning struck the concert this summer--and yet more proof that jazz fusion is wrong, since it happened while Herbie Hancock was on.)

7. "Grand Royal Magazine." Now the first issue was cool--15 pages on Bruce Lee, dammit. A chat with Q-Tip, a little cell phone parlay with Russell Simmons, and that useful guide of how to disguise the fact that you've just smoked a whole lotta reefer. But, eeeeeee, man, we don't need to read interviews with everyone you went to high school with.

8. Name dropping. The Beastie Boys are the name-droppingest damn people in the world. Laurie Anderson's sister taught Ad-Rock guitar. Lee "Scratch" Perry is a personal friend. Rancid played Yauch's wedding. Even worse is the way half of New York City drops them--an acquaintance of mine who is an associate of theirs used to invite me to go play basketball with him and the Beastie Boys. Not his friends, not some guys, but "the Beastie Boys." He repeated it several times. Listen man, if you want me to shoot hoop with Adam and his pals, I'm down, but I ain't interested in hanging out with the Beastie Boys. (See, I just did the name thing too! It totally sucks!)

9. Now, the Beasties have been rhyming and stealing since 1982. So why is it none of these clowns have developed true flow yet? Sure, their ability to shout in complete unison is impressive and effective, but can any of them really throw an intricate rhyme pattern? Rap about anything but pop-culture name-checking spiced with platitudes about enlightenment? If anything, they've been getting worse over the past few years; "Paul's Boutique" was their pinnacle both musically and lyrically and at least on "Licensed To Ill" it was some kinda new school--vocational new school, perhaps, but a new school nonetheless. Since they toned it down and punked it up for "Check Your Head," their style seems to have grown a bit stagnant.

10. Mike D. belongs to the same gym as Princess Superstar. He has skinny little legs and big shorts and does lots of yoga. As she says, "Maybe if I had a sack o White Castles and some Brass Monkey I could wave it all under his nose and he would become Mike D again." If you must know more, she'll tell you the whole story.

11. Mike D. also denies his roots and his family, namely he has disowned his brother Dustin for being uncool. You know Dustin Diamond. Screech from "Saved By the Bell." He's D.'s little brother and the bastard actually denies it! (Of course, back before there were wives, they'd be riding the kid all over town, fixing him up with Adidas and bong hits in hopes of an intro to Elisabeth Berkely who, as we all know, is a stone cold freak.) And sure, then Screech has to insist he's not related either, just to save face. Can't we all just get along?


12. Sean Lennon. Cibo Matto. Bis. Buffalo Daughter. All those chirpy, annoying, happy, happy, happy bands on Grand Royal.

13. Limp Bizkit. Rage Against the Machine. Sugar Ray. Both the old and new Vanilla Ice. All those dreadful rap-thrash bands that exist because some piece of white trash was damaged by hearing "Licensed to Ill" at a too-early age.

14. One word: capitalists. Two words: international corporations. Grand Royal Records. Grand Royal Magazine. X-Large Clothing. X-Girl Clothing. The Milarepa Fund. They're selling a lifestyle: let the Beastie Boys tell you what to listen to, what to wear, what to read, what to believe. They're like goddam Amway. Sure, Yauch rants about how "multinationals spreadin' like a rash" on the new record--and denies that the chant of "money makin'" has anything to do with greed--it's just a nickname for the island of Manhattan. Money is evil. The Beastie Boys don't care about money.

15. Can you say "self-righteous?" Can you say "holier than thou?" During their current tour, the Beasties have taken time out to apologize on behalf of America to the Islamic people of the world for the bombing of Afghanistan and the Sudan--because a) their concerts are heavily attended of fundamentalist Muslims and b) those Muslims know that the Beastie Boys represent America and everyone in it. These little time-outs are usually met with silence and blank stares from the audience. At a recent show in Britain, Ad-Rock took opening act The Prodigy to task for his "Smack My Bitch Up" tune (I'm sure The Prodigy never intended to cause any controversy or draw any attention to themselves with that title and had no idea what they were doing). MCA continued his prolonged recanting of everything he did before 1995.

16. Starbucks. The epitome of the evil empire that sprang out of nowhere and took over your neighborhood. And they love it. Ad-Rock even tried to get a list of every single franchise so, wherever they toured, they'd always know how to get to a latte. Of course they don't have an online listing, so Mr. Horovitz will be grabbing his caffeine in no-name mom & pop joints. Pobrecito.

17. "Hello Nasty" is a boring record. Listen to it and realize that it is weak. Oh, it kicks off mighty, with the freaky sound collage and caffienated rant of "Super Disco Breakin'" right on to the similarly festive "The Move" and the simultaneously scattered and repetitive "Remote Control." But gradually you start feeling as though you're listening to the same beats-and-rhymes, repetitive loop thing over and over, just rant, rant, boggle, rant, rant, Don King, rant, Tibet, scratching noise, rant, B-boys, B girls, rant, rant, rant. Hey--haven't they gone on about "shame in your game" in three songs now and did the "I don't like to brag/don't like to boast" twice? Then they start singing. None of the Beastie Boys can or should sing. Ever. Much less on six tracks. And then the lengthy jazz fusion numbers kick in and Yauch has to start warbling about enlightenment and worthy quests over acoustic guitars.

All that said, I must admit that I really like the Beastie Boys, actually. I have several of their albums, even going as far as to steal a former roommate's vinyl copy of "Licensed to Ill"--and I looked him right in the eye and lied about it. Some of my best friends got dicked by Ricky Powell. And I hear the Beasties are a nice bunch of guys but, damn...complacency has never done anyone any good. Sometimes you've just got to say no, especially when everyone else is saying yes, and sometimes thinking of all the reasons why you hate something gives you a clearer idea of why you like it. I don't know if the Boys appreciate that, but there was a time when they probably would've laughed their asses off at this (that's laughing at, not with). Then they'd egg my house but, hey, it's the price you pay for troublemaking.

 

Previously:

North By Nortwest (Not the Movie)

Ask Mr. Diva

Dead Elvis: Munching The King's Corpse

Fear of a Black Planet: The Goth Revival.

Horoscopes for the Week of July 20.

Spice Girls review, Fourth of July disasters, an obscene love triangle, and all-star hope for our nation's future.

Brooklyn hip hop, Detroit techno, mermaids, zombies, lounge singers, the "Wonderboy Preacher," and full frontal nudity.

Horoscopes for the week of June 22.

Courtney Love sucks and some of the reasons why.

The Jon Spencer Blues Explosion, the Lounge Lizards, and Afrika Bambataa & the SoulSonic Force.

The legendary Ginger Spice rant!

Frank Sinatra & Ava Gardner.



 


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