“I listen to wax, I’m not using the CD,” Mike D tells us on “Sure Shot,” the opening cut to the Beastie Boys’ superb ’94 record Ill Communication. Whether or not an updated version of the cut would have included a discharge about MP3s is for you to decide, but the Remastered Edition of Ill sounds as funky-fresh today as it ever did.
Originally dropped a full five years after Paul’s Boutique, Ill Communication builds on the same tones and methods the Boys used all along. Chock-full of samples and maddeningly sick beats from a host of live instruments used to mingle the basics of hip hop and punk into one enchanting sound, this is a record that yields limitless rewards.
The Ill Communication Remastered Edition comes neatly packaged with 2 discs, original cover art and lyrics for those inclined to follow along – just remember to turn the page when you hear the chimes.
Ill marked another step on the boulevard away from the hard-partying frat boy personas that Mike D, Ad-Rock and MCA had worked so hard at in their early years. In the middle of the sharp rhymes and diabolical beats is a hardcore sense of growing up that signals that things are rather far removed from the trio’s early days as New York punkasses.
“Sure Shot” presses the premise early on. Over the celebrated flute loop and reverb effects, the Boys tell us that “the disrespect to women has got to be through.”
That’s not to say that the Boys grew all the way up, of course, as the same lawless vibe rifles through the record in the form of innumerable witty, strange and stupid rhymes. The anarchic lines about a basketball opponent on “Tough Guy” speak to the same glorious absurdity fans of the Beastie Boys have come to adore.