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BEASTIE BOYS - TO THE 5 BOROUGHS - EMI
Record Rating: ***

Beastie Boys - To The 5 Boroughs As the first white rap group of any importance, the Beastie Boys received the scorn of critics and strident hip-hop musicians, who accused them of cultural pirating, especially since they began as a hardcore punk group way back in 1981 before white boys rapping was cool. Say what you want about their politically charged lyrics, their age, or the way they behave - none of that should matter once you pop their music into your CD player.

Their first new album in more than six years - To The 5 Boroughs - seems to continue into that newly focused old school hip-hop direction that their last album took. And just incase you were wondering about the album title - a borough is the name used to describe the subdivisions of a city and there are five of them in New York City. If you're sick of the mindless, manufactured 'gangster rap' out there that's dominating the mainstream, have no fear the Beastie Boys seem to be here. But be warned - the fifteen tracks are not radio and pop friendly material like Eminem's album was with the rapping here getting dark, fowl and dirty. And unlike the previous Beastie Boys albums like Ill Communication and Hello Nasty (which reveled in genre breaking rap borrowing from salsa, dub and disco) the boys Adrock, MCA and Mike D seem to be letting their worldly views personal this time around. From rapping about girls and beer on All Lifestyles - they move on to tripping on US President Bush and bashing him about the war in Iraq. The politics of their messages are relevant only today, which makes replay value of the album diminish.

Secondly, if they spent half as much time coming up with unique rhymes as they did trying to let people know the Iraq situation is a mess - they may have proved they still could rock a party like they did with the music of Licensed to Ill and Paul's Boutique. If you're the casual listener that liked their past few efforts then you will probably hate this album. Still Eminem and Dr. Dre fans could expand their mind by getting this one. You have been warned.

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