Rolling Stone - p.1205 stars out of 5
- "[T]wo decades after turning from hardcore punk to homeboy jollies, the Beasties are still the best rap band in the biz - three voices swinging like a jazz trio, racing like Bad Brains..."
Rolling Stone - p.141
Included in Rolling Stone's Top 50 Records Of 2004 - "[T]he Beasties soar with heart and chutzpah."
Entertainment Weekly - p.83
"There's plenty of the usual pure, dumb fun here....Think of BOROUGHS as license to chill." - Grade: B+
Q - p.1083 stars out of 5
- "Rooted in New York's hip hop past the album sees them looking to the future and voicing their humanist concerns."
Uncut - p.1083 stars out of 5
- "The Boys are still hooked on media detritus, and their food-obsessed rhyming has hit dizzy, linguistically dextrous new heights."
Mojo (Publisher) - p.1124 stars out of 5
- "[T]he vision of ultimate human amity encoded in the telepathic understanding between Mike D's punky squawk, MCA's gruffly humourful drawl and Ad-Rock's dynamic alto is more desperately needed now than it's ever been."
Beastie Boys: Adam Horovitz, Adam Yauch, Mike D .
Additional personnel: Mix Master Mike (turntables).
In the six years following 1998's HELLO NASTY, the Beastie Boys watched their hometown of New York City endure dramatic changes, most of them direct repercussions of the September 2001 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center. The trio's response is TO THE 5 BOROUGHS, an album that prominently features the WTC on its cover illustration of the Manhattan skyline (circa 2000), and lovingly looks at the past, present, and future of both NYC and the Beastie Boys themselves.
"Ch-check It Out" opens the album in classic Beasties style, with Ad-Rock, MCA, and Mike D trading rhymes over a deft old-school hip-hop beat. However, things quickly get topical on "Right Right Now Now" with MCA declaring, "I'm getting kind of tired of the situation/The US attacking other nations..." over a slightly ominous backing track. The funky "Time to Build" furthers these sentiments, addressing political, economic, and ecological issues, while wisely noting "It takes a second to wreck it/It takes time to build." Those fearing that the Beasties have lost their party vibe need not worry, though; even the lyrically heavy songs feature tight rhythms and booty-shaking bass. Nowhere is this better exemplified than on "An Open Letter to NYC," a loving celebration of the dynamic city that shaped the Beastie Boys and their eclectic hip-hop sound.