Beastie Boys eased naturally into their role as hip-hop elder statesmen a long time ago. These days the Boys are so far removed from trends in contemporary hip-hop that they’re practically Paleolithic—and that seems to suit them just fine. On Hot Sauce Committee Part Two, Ad-Rock, MCA, and Mike D. perform old school bits with telltale names like “The Lisa Lisa/Full Force Routine” and “The Larry Routine” with the cheesy élan of grandparents telling cornball jokes to their indulgent grandkids. Like the Boys’ curiously underrated last album, 2004’s To The 5 Boroughs, Hot Sauce is rooted in the good-time party-rocking rhymes and dusty grooves of old-school hip-hop, though the group finds ways to expand its sound without deviating from retro fundamentals.
On previous albums, the proud dilettantes’ genre-hopping sometimes felt like experimentation for experimentation’s sake, but here the forays sound both purposeful and fitting, whether the Beasties are going reggae alongside Santigold on “Don’t Play No Game That I Can’t Win” or fusing hip-hop with cranked-up rock guitars on “Lee Majors Come Again.” The sparky, electronic “OK” leans to the new wave side of the ’80s and Nas slides easily into the old school cadences he last rocked on Ludacris’ “Virgo” on “Too Many Rappers,” a long-in-the-works—and worthy—teaming of legends.
Hip-hop remains a fountain of youth for true believers like the Beasties. At this point, part of the joke comes from proudly juvenile rhymes emerging from such ancient, respected minds. This is the music Beastie Boys love whether it’s trendy or not. Three decades in, they continue to school the kids.