Whereas Licensed to Ill
was an album for moronic keg-standing college frat boys (and those who realise most of the album was a joke that makes fun of said moronic keg-standing college frat boys, like me), and Paul’s Boutique
was for Indie hipsters with interesting haircuts who're down with its goofy 70's TV show references and obscure 70's soul samples, Check Your Head
is for pot-smoking college hippies who wear wool hats.
So this is another complete change in artistic priorities for my three favorite skinny Jewish MCs (by the way, the idea of 'trying to expand as artists, and change one’s artistic priorities from album to album' is something that every single rapper bar possibly OutKast, maybe the Roots, should take a cue from), as Mike D, Ad-Rock, and MCA try out the incredibly novel idea of playing their own instruments.
As a result, the Beasties craft a very interesting stew of distorted basslines, marijuana, butt-shaking funk instrumentals, relaxing soul grooves, marijuana, and fuzzy guitar yumminess, all with a smidgeon of interesting rapping on top. And marijuana.
OK, it’s not just one 54-minute soundtrack for Charlie Q. Pothead to go smoke a bowl to, but Check Your Head
is a fundamentally different type of music from the Beasties’ first two albums. Those were active, upbeat, and fun releases that made me appreciate how interesting old-school hip-hop could be in the hands of talented MC’s backed by a wonderful production.
If you think about it, “Gratitude” and “So What’cha Want” are essentially the same song - both feature hard hitting drumming, fuzzed-out guitars, a rippin’ solo, and hardcore raps yelled through some sort of distortion device - and they represent the only times where the adrenaline and rump-shaking are turned up to levels approaching the band’s last two albums. The only other moment that might make you sit up and put down your bong being the decidedly mediocre cover of some hardcore punk tune called “Time For Livin’”, possibly the worst track on the album.
by Reviewer: BRAD