Hello Nasty is my first comprehensive experience with Beastie Boys, and I’m taken aback by the variation on show. Sprightly rap rock is the focus, as expected, but the record delves into a plethora of other genres. Such a sonic assortment makes Nasty a very loose record — mostly for the better, but occasionally for the worse. One could never accuse it of being repetitive, which is impressive given the 65-minute playtime, and the free-spirited nature is presumably why it remains a firm fan favourite.
There’s a sense that Beasties did exactly what they wanted on Nasty, and that translates to some exceptionally joyous music. It contains some of their stone-cold classics (“Intergalactic”, “Body Movin’”), in addition to hidden gems (“Electrify”, “And Me”). Then there are the infamous instrumental tracks, the majority of which are a great success. “Sneaking Out The Hospital” and “Song for Junior” are particular highlights, with the latter sounding like a jazzy Santana tune.
Unfortunately, the record also contains some slight duds. The second half is so slack that it practically feels like an amateur demo reel. There’s a charm to that, for sure, but there’s no question that songs such as “Picture This” and “Dedication” put a slight damper on proceedings. They’re not necessarily bad cuts, but the slow pace of these closing tracks has an undeniable impact on the album’s momentum. “Instant Death” is a good closer, but it would be a great one if the songs that preceded it hadn’t already drained the energy.
Nasty has proven somewhat divisive due to the quirkier songs in the latter half of the tracklist, but if anything it’s the sequencing that really lets the album down. Nevertheless, it’s clear to see why the it holds such a legacy. Whether the Beasties are rapping or singing, an infectious adolescent vigour radiates throughout. Twenty years on and that energy has rarely been replicated. Nasty has been hailed as a great hip-hop album, but I’d sooner call it a great party album.
7 out of 10
This is a super viby record. To an extent that’s why I’ve struggled to process why I don’t enjoy it as much as some other Beastie Boys albums. It can be tricky to separate the Beastie synergy from the quality of what’s going on around them. They could probably make my beatboxing sound hip and cool if they felt so inclined. Their swagger is peerless.
Most of Hello Nasty simmers with that trademark New Yawwk energy, but enough doesn’t to make me take issue with its length. Beastie Boys can be exhausting to listen to, and at their best you wouldn’t have it any other way. Post-listen crashes are just a testament to their quality. On Hello Nasty that payoff isn’t quite there, especially given its runtime. It’s like a rolling house party that’s gotten out of hand: there comes a point where you need to step outside and clear your head.
It seems fitting then that two of my favourite tracks are instrumentals. Attitude is great, but groove a better. That said, Hello Nasty juggles the two well enough to keep my doubts at bay. It’s a party when you arrive, and it’s a party when you leave. What business do I have telling them to turn it down? Maybe I just can’t keep up.
7 out of 10
As a newcomer to Hello Nasty, my time with it has been a welcome surprise. The variety on show right out the gate makes for a captivating, mile-a-minute opening to the album. While Beastie Boys are likely best known for their hip-hop prowess, it’s the instrumentals that bring me back time and again. Unsurprisingly, it’s the best-known tracks that fall into my favourites. “Body Movin'” has such an infectious instrumental, a simple hook, and sampling that really hits the spot. “Intergalactic” follows it with a slightly punchier, though no less entertaining, four minutes.
From here though, I feel as though Hello Nasty veers off the beaten track, and that makes for a patchwork latter two-thirds. Tracks like “Flowin’ Prose”, with an instrumental closer to funky lounge music alongside the likes of “And Me”, an electronic, bleep-filled three minutes make for odd mood changes, and that only continues with the brief interlude of bossa nova around the midway point. Make no mistake, this doesn’t make for a dud of a record. The calmer moments can be welcome breaks, and tracks like “The Negotiation Limerick File” return listeners to a sound resembling the opening moments of the album. However, it does fragment the album a little, and it makes that 70-minute play time slightly more obvious. You reach the end of the tracklist feeling a tad overwhelmed.
The variety and the cartoonish edge in tracks like “Unite” give me strong memories of albums from the likes of The Avalanches, and I think that’s a testament to the influence and timeless nature of this album as I’d be hard pushed to date this as a two-decade-old record. Hello Nasty is a whirlwind ride of fun, hyperactive hip-hop that I’ve really enjoyed my time with. Its downfall is in its top-heavy nature and mood swinging, lengthy tracklist, but for all the enjoyment I’ve had from it, I think I can probably let that slide.
8 out of 10