These days, the word “classic” is thrown around as loosely as a Nerf ball at a picnic. However, we at TRU consider classics to be something which stand the test of time and have a resounding influence on their respective fields. But how do albums considered classics sound to the ears of TRU’s young blood? Aaron J. McKrell was born in 1990 and we’ve convinced him to turn his scope on a classic from the rich history of hip-hop to view it through a contemporary lens in a weekly series we call…
Phew! I made it out of ’88 safe. That’s saying something, seeing how I had to go through armed robbery, police brutality and a prison riot to make it to ’89. Well, I made it, and I chose The Beastie Boys’ Paul’s Boutique to be the sixth album of the series. TRU’s editor, Jaap aka J Monkey, warned me that I would either love it or hate it; the album was very polarizing. He was right. But which one was it? Read on to find out.
In short, I found this album to be an ear-sore. The Beasties choose to obnoxiously shout out their lyrics, much like Run and DMC did. However, unlike the Hollis Duo, the Beasties’ voices don’t sound good when shouted. Their shouts and screeches are hard on the ears, and detract even some of the album’s more solid rhymes and narratives. The production is equally coarse; it’s metal-inspired and sample-heavy, with over 100 different samples from every freaking genre in the book, courtesy of the Dust Brothers. The samples themselves aren’t always the problem; it’s the awkward and abrupt placing of samples (extremely evident on the album’s closer, “B-Boy Bouillabaisse”) that make the production fall far short of desirable.
As far as content goes, the Beasties devote much of their rhymes to raising hell, getting with girls and stealing cars. They seem to have a fetish for the latter; they mention it on multiple tracks and even have a song entirely devoted to the topic: “Car Thief.”
This album clearly rocked its fair share of frat parties in ’89 (even if it was far less well-received than Licensed to Ill), but in 2011, it would kill a party vibe quicker than campus police. However, the Beasties do bare resemblance to frat boys; they’re obnoxious loud-mouths with little brawn to back up their brash. Their humor is sometimes funny, sometimes not, but it’s always obnoxious. While I realize that was the point, it doesn’t sound good if the music itself is very obnoxious, also.
I admire the Beasties’ creativity and daring; they were not at all afraid to kick down doors musically. I also respect their place in hip-hop as the first white act to make it big. However, I feel the music itself is, frankly, wack. In a nutshell, Paul’s Boutique is like the movie Grown Ups: it seems like they had a lot more fun making it than I did experiencing it.
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