“Ill Communication” follows the blueprint of “Check Your Head”, accentuating it at some points, deepening it in others, but never expanding it beyond the boundaries of that record. It was the first Beastie Boys album not to delve into new territory, but it’s not fair to say that the band were coasting, since much of the album finds the group turning in muscular, vigorous music that fills out the black-and-white sketches that comprised “Check Your Head”. Much of the credit has to go to the group’s renewed emphasis on their rhyming; there are still instrumentals, but the Beasties do push their words to the forefront, even on dense rockers like the album’s signature tune, “Sabotage”. But even those rhymes illustrate that the group is in the process of a great settling, relying more on old-school-styled rhyme schemes and word battles than the narratives and surreal fantasies that marked the high points on their first two albums. With this record, the Beasties confirm that there is indeed a signature Beastie Boys aesthetic, with the group sticking to a blend of old school rap, pop culture, lo-fi funk, soulful jazz instrumentals, Latin rhythms, and punk, often seamlessly integrated into a rolling, pan-cultural, multi-cultural groove.
Tracklist: Sure Shot / Tough Guy / B – Boys Makin’ With The Freak Freak / Bobo On The Corner / Root Down / Sabotage / Get It Together / Sabrosa / The Update /Futterman’s Rule / Alright Hear This / Eugene’s Lament / Flute Loop / Do It / Ricky’s Theme / Heart Attack Man / The Scoop / Shambala / Bodhisattva Vow / Transitions