Thursday, August 13th, 2009

Beastie Boys ft. Nas – Too Many Rappers

Rap’s “Not On My Lawn” movement continues…


Anthony Miccio: Weary forty-something rappers team up with a boring thirty-something rapper to tell us how they’re better than all those twenty-something “crab rappers.” I guess showing us wasn’t an option.

Jonathan Bradley: A squelching synth line is not enough, particularly when paired with rattling, trebly drums that remind only how much better the same sounded on “Rhymin’ and Stealin’.” None of the rappers particularly aquits himself well, either — even if you excuse them as emcees — and that includes Nas. Four points for namedropping Wolf Blitzer and, in “these crab rappers — they’re rapping like crabs!” the most bafflingly stupid Beastie Boys lyric since “Everybody’s rapping like it’s a commercial/Acting like life’s a big commercial”.

Chuck Eddy: I don’t totally disapprove of the “we’re good because we’re old” baloney (in fact I kind of subscribe to it), and I hope MCA’s salivary gland improves. But this song feels three times as long as it actually is, MCA’s and Ad-Rock’s voices just get more painful to listen to as time goes on, and Nas is so dull he almost makes Mike D sound compelling in comparison. Also, the Brothers Johnson did “Strawberry Letter 23” better than Shuggie Otis, tartar sauce or no.

Spencer Ackerman: Meh. The song’s refrain, “too many rappers and not enough MCs,” pretty much sums up the Beastie Boys. As ever, the beat — raucous and rock-influenced — is the most interesting thing here. Nas delivers a disinterested and sub-par performance that outshines anything from the Beastie veterans by orders of magnitude. MCA, suffering from cancer, has the wittiest line, inverting a classic Nas lyrics to produce, “Stay up all night and I MC/and never die/’cause death is the cousin of sleep.”

Martin Skidmore: I’m not sure about the sub-thrash music here – possibly played by the Beasties rather than sampled: it’s all kind of clumsy and underpowered. Nas seems a touch out of place here – the group have always been best on the dumb stuff, and he’s at the other end of the scale, but he seems to be enjoying himself. This isn’t bad, but I wish it had a more solid punch.

Briony Edwards: Should I have worried? I should not have worried. Do they still have it? They still have it. If anything, this song shows massive benefits from developed technologies and matured minds, retaining the trademark healthy cynicism and humour, and executing it with more sophistication than ever. Oh, and Nas is all right, too.

Michaelangelo Matos: The fact that this isn’t horrifying is kind of a shock. It’s not as if the Beasties have dick to say, or as if Nas isn’t on autopilot, or that Mike D. could have stood to limit his use of the phrase “crab-rappers” to once and once alone, but I really like the track: a B&W photo of graffiti turned 3D, sort of “Jimmy James” plus “Intergalactic” sonically. I wonder what it’d be like if they made beats for other people; they certainly couldn’t be any worse at it than, oh, I dunno, Eminem.

Al Shipley: The fact that the Beasties have continued to hew closer to good old-fashioned beats & rhymes in recent years, despite the fact that alt-rock radio is the only place where they’ll never run out of goodwill, suggests that they’re following their passion. It’s a shame that doesn’t show much in the music; the “my skills still grow” boast might be true for all I know, but it’s not like they ever had anywhere to go but up in that regard.

John Seroff: “Too Many Rappers” is halfway into a self-declared victory lap when you realize there’s really no song here at all, just a lot of messy drumwork that everyone is assiduously ignoring. Nas is straight freestyling to less than scintillating effect and the Boys all sound real TIRED; their energy is at only a fraction of even Hello Nasty levels. I would be at the front of the line for any self-proclaimed “grampa-rap” movement, but it ain’t starting here.

Alfred Soto: The snares do a better punctuation job than Mike-D and Ad-Rock, Nas sticks to tried-and-true, and the helium synth break is an annoyance. But if you ignore his awful Stax/stacks rhyme, MCA’s flow is pretty good, and the whole thing accrues momentum. Who’s doing who a favor here?

Additional Scores

Richard Swales: [8]
Edward Okulicz: [3]

2 Responses to “Beastie Boys ft. Nas – Too Many Rappers”

  1. So I probably just missed it, but does anybody understand what exactly Mike D believes makes other rappers so crab-like? (Do they rap sideways? Are they really grumpy? Do they cause embarrassing itching beneath undergarments?)

    Also, in case anybody’s interested, here’s something else I wrote about the Beastie Boys once, several lifetimes ago:

  2. He’s just not down with crabcore.