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If Solid Gold Hits were the first Beasties album you’d heard since
Licensed to Ill, you’d probably assume they’d spent the last 20 years discovering that old-school rap’s inclusive, celebratory nature is what excited them, rather than its macho posing. Production styles may have changed over the years, but psychedelic or minimal, liberal or boorish, they never lost the animated edge or gleeful goofs, slipping only when reacting to 9-11 (but who didn’t?). Aside from that track (which I’d replace with “Shadrach” if I were burning this for you), you probably wouldn’t be sure which song was recorded when. Without their indie-acceptable videos, you might worry that “Sabotage” and “Pass the Mic” were pandering to Fred Durst rather than foretelling him. Either way, you’d probably prefer they included “Rhymin’ and Stealin’ ” instead.
Fans might tell you Solid Gold Hits doesn’t tell the whole story, but download the tracks from the two-disc Sounds of Science that aren’t here and, amiable as they are, you won’t find much of the same caliber. This best-of gives you a story that’s better than the truth.