Naming your band after something as transient as youth comes back to bite you if you try to stick around too long. And The Beastie Boys have certainly pushed the limits of absurdity, carrying their moniker into their respective 40’s. It’s beyond ridiculous when you think that these guys came out of the box flanked by women in cages and giant inflatable penises on stage and now preach a very PC brand of passive do-gooderism. Sure, bands can change and mature as they age, but when you’re called The Beastie Boys a certain level of mischief is required.
At the same time these Yankee-hooligans-turned-concerned-activists are responsible for some of the most avant-garde sampling and hip hop in the business. They helped change the rules of the game with their second record, Paul’s Boutique, which pushed sampling into a respectable art form and propelled The Beastie Boys into a stratosphere few hip hop artists ever reach. And introducing live instrumentation to their sound only fueled the trio’s respect from a disdainful establishment ready to dismiss rapping as a fleeting trend.
Since they started out as an extremely crude punk band over two decades ago, The Beastie Boys have always been familiar with organic instrumentation. Around the time of Check Your Head, The Beastie Boys had adopted a formula that co-opted all of their strengths so the record played like a schizophrenic morass of hip hop, punk, funk, and 70’s porn music. It’s the latter that brings us to The Mix-Up– The Beastie Boys first all-instrumental studio album.
The Mix-Up doesn’t exactly break new ground, as this strain of sound stems from the odds and ends collection The In Sound from Way Out in 1996, which lumped all The Beastie Boys’ soul jams and spacey interludes into one bunch. It’s no surprise that The Beastie Boys lack the musical chops to wow anyone with their compositions, which is ultimately why this record falls short. The novelty wears off in a hurry because it’s no longer unique or even very interesting that The Beastie Boys play their own instruments. That’s old news. And these songs are way too laid back and unfocused to hold anyone’s attention for long