In the ’80s and ’90s, hip-hop’s premier party advocates built a cache of seemingly infinite cool. But for the past 10 years, the Beasties have been in limbo, turning out sleepy albums like 2004’s To the 5 Boroughs and dealing with Adam ”MCA” Yauch’s cancer diagnosis. The spark of classic joints like 1992’s Check Your Head seemed like it might be gone forever.
Thankfully, Yauch is now in remission, and the group’s eighth album gets back to the business of being, to paraphrase their ’98 classic ”Body Movin’,” sweet like a nice bonbon. Although the trio is now collectively 135 years old, the Boys don’t spend Hot Sauce Committee Part Two pondering their own mortality. They’re too busy laying down noisy, minimalist funk (the glitchy ”OK”), rhyming former NBA star John Salley with Vogue editor André Leon Talley (”Here’s a Little Something for Ya”), and crafting a perfect reggae-kissed summer jam (the Santigold collab ”Don’t Play No Game That I Can’t Win”). And in case you forgot, the Boys are happy to remind you that there is a considerable amount of lyrical diesel left in their tank (”I’m running wild like rats in the Taco Bell,” declares Ad-Rock on ”Long Burn the Fire”). Hot Sauce is a lot like Daniel Craig’s übercool James Bond — another stripped-down return to a franchise’s best virtues after a decade or so of wandering the desert. It took a little time, but the Boys are back with a license to ill. A-