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Published: 2007/07/22
by Brad Farberman

The Mix Up – The Beastie Boys

Capitol Records

On The Mix-Up, the seventh full-length from punk rockers-turned-hip hop pioneers the Beastie Boys, we are returned to the year 1996, when a little Beasties compilation dubbed The In Sound From Way Out! was released by the now-defunct Grand Royal label.

On said compilation, there was no rhymin’. Or stealin’. Just funk: greasy, nasty Shaft-type-shit. Tunes that might have come from a Pam Grier flick or something. But here’s the real dirt: all of the tracks were written and performed by the Boys themselves, not a sample to be found. MCA on bass, Mike D. behind the kit and Adrock on guitar, plus Money Mark on the keys (he’s on the new record, too).

And it cooked. It was real good. It sounded like the stuff that the Boys liked to sample in the first place. And now, ten years later, we have a fresh batch of the stuff. The Mix-Up features twelve new instrumentals, and not a drum machine in sight.

Be forewarned, however: the disc starts strong, but doesn’t quite finish that way. Songs like “Off The Grid” and “The Kangaroo Rat” jam with good intentions, but don’t really go anywhere. The Beasties are hip, and they’re funky, but they’re not great musicians, and sometimes they just don’t have much to say on their axes.

But when they’re ready to burn, look out! “B For My Name” is an organ and clav-fueled journey into the deepest caverns of white boy groove. “14th St. Break” is a driving, indie-rock steamroller. “The Gala Event” is a foggy, languid take on Uninvisible-era MMW. If you’re looking to dig on the instrumental side of the Beasties, start with The In Sound From Way Out! But check out The Mix-Up, too.

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