Friday, March 25, 2011

90's Hit Parade #77

Beastie Boys - Pass the Mic

The Beastie Boys were at their most adventurous on Check Your Head, doing a little bit of everything (from reviving their old punk rock sound to trying to play funk instrumentals, while still delivering some great rap tunes) and somehow making it all fit together. "Pass the Mic" is like Check Your Head in microcosm. Loops created out of an instrumental jam session, a sample from an old Bad Brains cassette, old school rapping, all tweaked and rearranged until it somehow not only makes sense, but makes enough sense to be the lead single. Which is odd, considering it doesn't really have a chorus hook. Every time I mention the song to Bobbie, I have to remind her how it goes by reciting the closest thing to a hook in the song: "M-I-K-E to the D." For that matter, the other single, "So Watcha Want," doesn't seem to have had a hook either, until they looped the most catchy phrase in the rap to create an artificial chorus at the end.

I don't usually care much about bonus tracks and b-sides, but for Check Your Head, the deluxe version is absolutely necessary, as some of the most experimental tracks are taken from the 12" single released at the time, and they really build the case for the album as an exploration of sound. My favorite is "Dub the Mic," which is, as the title implies, the dub version of "Pass the Mic."

This post is a bit of a milestone: it's maybe the first truly GREAT song on the countdown (probably artificially low on the list because, well, I'm doing a lot of Beastie Boys songs, because fuck you it's my list).


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