Recent legal cases in which rappers like Biz Markie have been successfully sued for sampling other performers’ music have hamstrung a number of heavy-borrowing rappers, none more than the Beasties. Their response—composing and performing 70 percent of the music on this record—is sadly amateur. (Next time, guys, hire a band.)
The sound is murky and messy, the music sloppy and uninvolving. The lyrics contain none of the smartass cleverness that marked the trio’s earlier work. Then, too, their rap delivery has grown annoyingly wheedling in tone, particularly the yelps of Mike D.
Some songs, such as “Something’s Got to Give,” are atmospheric but stunted, suggesting something that U2 might have thrown out from the early takes of Achtung Baby. Only a pair of selections recall the rappers’ former uncaged energy: the beat-dizzy “Jimmy James” and a subterranean swirl, “So What’ cha Want.”
Other than that, the Beasties are leasties. This punky, thin, unripe and tame record sounds more like the studio noodlings of the Lost Boys. (Capitol)