By LA Weekly
By Henry Rollins
By Weekly Photographers
By Shea Serrano
By Nate "Igor" Smith
By Dan Weiss
By Erica E. Phillips
By Kai Flanders
But it's the frighteningly sarcastic "Just a Test," with its relentless almost-rock chord changes, that's worth the price of submission, as it reassures would-bes, coulda-beens and contenders not to worry, even if they're "Like a broken clock that can't tell time/Like a thick-ass book filled with wack rhymes." No matter, these three stooges grin, this is just a test . . .
Actually, this is not just a test, it's an emergency the likes of which Randolph Mantooth never sank his teeth into - and whatever else you can say about them sunny beaches, Beastie Boys always emerge unscathed from whatever emergency they fall into. As much popularity as they've cultivated, as much of pop culture as they've molded with their bare hands like God Himself made man from clay, there will always be something vulnerable about Beastie Boys. They're always on the hot seat, never entirely accepted by not so much the know-nothing Neanderthals of the mosh pit but their classic-rocker older brothers and the like.
Because in the end, you're either on the bus or off, Beastie Boys being not just a band but a way of life. Neither rap nor rock, mod or rocker, old-school or new-, East Coast or West, AM or FM, MTV or VH1: Beastie Boys are all these and more, none of these and less. Which is to say, they are pure perfect pop - not in the Paul Westerberg way, but in an Andy Warhol sense of the term.
It's words, rhymes, acrobatic verbiage that Beastie Boys paint with. Now, you may feel too mature to allow yourself to love a line like "I got the spice/You bring the sauce/You can kiss my ass/You funky boss!" But ludicrous as their lyrics may seem, they slyly admit, "A slight distraction can get you paid/And at that type a shit I paved the way."
And however flaky Beastie Boys can afford to be, don't be fooled. They're not just dreamers, they're doers: "There's no time like the present to work shit out/That's what I'm going on and on and on about." You, too, could be as cool as them; all you need is the willpower: "There's no difference between you and me/But I rock the mic so viciously." How many kids will take that challenge? Too many, all of whom will find out, the hard way, that this is not just a test. It's a pop quiz, and you'd better be prepared.
Ironically, both my peers (mid-30s) and the swifter early-20s young-'uns I know agree that what they like about Hello Nasty is the music, that the words are beside the point. After all, they believe, how can someone their age relate to kids half as old, and how can someone their age tell a young adult anything but what they already know?
Perhaps only something personal, such as the disturbing references AdRock makes to wanting to join his friend Dave "Shadi Rock" Skilken in the hereafter, and his wish to die an instant death: "All I wanna know is when is check-out time/So I can be in heaven with the rhythm rock rhyme/And when I'm with my man Shadi Rock at the gates/We'll be rockin' rhythms over disco breaks."
Until then, these poets who know it (all too well) will have to endure their fair share of doubters. But before you pick up the mic and try to bust your own rhymes, let me tell you a little story.
When I worked for Mike as the editor of the first two issues of the now defun(k)t Grand Royal magazine - a conflict of interest you should take into account now that you've finished this article - I complained to our mutual friend Eli that Mike was a bad speller, as opposed to Thurston Moore.
Eli replied that, nevertheless, Mike D is probably a better speller than I am a rapper.
A couple of days after that, I came across a Jewish proverb that seemed to make a similar point. "All cantors are fools," it said, "but not all fools can sing."