Beastie Boys’ “Ill Communication” (1994)

(Originally Published February 5th 2013)
I think the world might have given me the wrong impression of the Beastie Boys. An unfortunate series of events in my youth just created this unfounded dislike of the Beastie Boys within me. A science teacher who I looked up to and respected called them out as being a stupid, sexist band (based on “Girls”). A girl I didn’t care for embraced “(You Gotta) Fight For Your Right (To Party!)” as the temporary anthem for a club I didn’t care for. “Sabotage” appeared in Guitar Hero III, and I look back at my Guitar Hero years in mild disgust – which is enough for me to feel weird about the song. Long-short is that a bunch of things that didn’t have to do with the Beastie Boys made me dislike the Beastie Boys, but college is a fresh start, so let’s throw all by past experiences out the door and look at Beastie Boys’ “Ill Communication” (1994).
The world never told me how relaxing the Beastie Boys were. The distant vocal quality, the down-low jazz samples; it doesn’t matter what they’re singing about, or how exciting and funky some of the songs can get – I’m very relaxed during “Ill Communication” (Sans “Tough Guy”, and “Sabotage”, and “Heart Attack Man”). The Beastie Boys made a pretty incredible album here with generous servings of wah-pedal, catchy-songs, smile-inducing lyrics and although it might contradict the whole “relaxing” statement I made before, I found it very easy to “feel” the album. “Ill Communication” lends itself to head-nodding and foot-tapping, it’s very rhythmic, which you could argue is a horrible quality to attribute to music, so I’ll elaborate.

What makes the Beastie Boys’ “Ill Communication” rhythmic? Everything underneath the rapping is infectiously catchy, and while I’ll forget what was being sung and by whom, I’ll never forget the instrumentals of “Ill Communication”. The backing jazz samples, the original backing tracks, the record scratches, the wah-guitars. It’s very unique, to me at least, I’ve never listened to anything like this before – and I love it. What makes it rhythmic? Well, there’s a quality to their music that would make me want to add a little bob to my walk, no matter how embarrassing I might look. Only so many albums can make me actually want to put the security of my outer appearance at risk to further my enjoyment of the music by moving to it.

“Ill Communication” makes me want to move. It’s relaxing, it’s therapeutic, it’s catchy, it’s fun. It’s a great album.

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