1. Because MCA has survived the cancer that put the band on hiatus and the Beasties are back, with their long-awaited new album Hot Sauce Committee Part Two (the album’s original release was put on hold after his diagnosis). And after the disappointment of To The Five Boroughs, it’s brilliant to have them not just in fine health but back on musical form. ““Oh my God, just look at me / Grandpa been rapping since ’83” raps Ad-Rock, but he still sounds as fresh as ever. Hot Sauce Committee is a gloriously funky, funny mix of yappy, fluid rapping, great samples, innovative sounds and filthy beats that will have you shaking your booty around your kitchen and put a strut in your step as you listen to it on your iPod. At least, it will if you’re me. You can listen to it here and dance around at your desk.
2. Because they’re living proof that being a sexist idiot in your youth (the on-stage cage dancers etc) doesn’t mean that you can’t grow up and learn something. In fairness to the Beasties, they were already rapping against domestic violence (“Why you got to treat your girl like that?”) on Paul’s Boutique, back in their ‘To All The Girls’ and ‘Hey Ladies’ days (I love ‘Hey Ladies’, by the way. It is awesomely funky, it’s more silly and fun then sleazy, and how can anyone not like a song with the line “Beatnik chicks just wearin’ their smocks”? It’s one of my favourite Beasties songs) but as time went on they became more and more actively engaged with spreading a feminist message, both in their songs (“I’m gonna say a little something that’s long overdue/The disrespect of women has got to be through/ To all our mothers and our sisters and our wives and friends/ I want to offer my love and respect to the end” rapped MCA in the fantastic ‘Sure Shot’) and in their public appearances – Ad-Rock used their 1999 MTV Award win to speak out against sexual violence at music festivals rather than engage in the usual industry backslapping. Oh, and he’s married to Kathleen Hanna, one of the most significant American feminist voices of the last two decades and an awesome musician in her own right. Funny feminist boys FTW!
3. Because Ad-Rock is still ridiculously attractive. I’ve fancied him since I was about 12 and saw him in Smash Hits, back in the Licensed to Ill days. Of course, I’d love the Beasties even if he weren’t so very easy on the eye and would never reduce anyone to their physical charms alone etc etc, but still, I’m only human.
4. Because they are genuinely, properly cool, in a way today’s Morrissey-circa-1987-haired hipsters can only dream of. This is because they are unafraid to be both very smart and very goofy. They may be in their 40s now, but they have no interest in trying to be (sigh) down with the kids – they’ve stayed confidently true to their own idiosyncratic tastes. They’re also keen to share their ridiculous jokes and passions with the world, rather than hoarding them up for themselves in a poncy elitist fashion.
5. Because, as part of this sharing of the love, they gave the world the word mullet to describe the horrendous haircut that previously had no real name. Having written a song about the infamous ‘do and its fans, ‘Mullet Head’, they expanded on the topic in the second issue of their sadly shortlived magazine, Grand Royal. I still have my copy of this issue, and the mullet piece is very, very funny.
6. Because, as the promotional video they made to celebrate their return shows, they still don’t take themselves very seriously.
7. Because they created, with Spike Jonze, what is still possibly the greatest music video of all time. I’ll never forget you, Nathan Wind (as Cochese).