Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide by Review Date: 2011-05-10

2011-05-10

The Beastie Boys: Hot Sauce Committee Part Two (Capitol, 2011) More light-hearted than their Gotham-cheering album of 2004, and if you think light-hearted means shallow--especially for a rapper with a tumor threatening his salivary glands at age 42, which was where MCA found himself last July--you've come to the wrong art form. With a push from Nas and a whoosh from Santigold and new life from their chorusing kids, the beats spritz and submarine in signature Beasties style as the rhymes claim contexts high-living and low-life. But when they need to state their business, here come two old reliables: "Like Willis Reed or Elton John/We done been in the game and our game's still on." A-

Raphael Saadiq: Stone Rollin' (Columbia, 2011) One problem with dropping a tour de force out of the blue is that it sends expectations skyrocketing. So as we should have figured, the hook density is down three years after The Way I See It as the former Ray Wiggins declines to provide another dozen perfect Holland-Dozier-Holland songs. In fact, the born bassist now seems obsessed with groove rather than song. More Prince than Ray Parker Jr., he plays with himself to beat the band, and makes these 10 tracks bump and pulse. And then you notice even the less pneumatic ones connecting as songs. Fearing hell or working two jobs or fixing to buy what he can't afford, Saadiq sounds something like natural. Only when you do the math--three tracks a year, hmm--do you remember that natural's not in it. A-

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