The Beastie Boys’ Hot Sauce Committee Pt. 2 comes out Tuesday. But beyond the trio’s newest collection of raffish rap japes, Adam “Ad-Rock” Horovitz–the Beastie who isn’t going gray and who isn’t rumored to be related to Saved By The Bell‘s Screech Powers–has been steadily carving out a niche for himself as the unthreatening hip-hop figure to approach when an artist wants to swaddle a song in a classic coat of downtown New York chic. His latest effort, an electronically muted tweaking of fellow New Yorkers Rival Schools’ “69 Guns,” is a fine prompt to delve into ten of his most varied remix jaunts.
Bosco Delrey, “Evil Ones”
There are cases both for and against Diplo as a musical anthropologist, but his latest Mad Decent signing at least avoids the typecast of being a female of cloudy ethnic origin. Instead, Bosco Delrey–nope, it’s not a name nabbed from an episode of The Dukes Of Hazard–combines a hillbilly sensibility with a predilection toward the type of dance-floor-friendly beats favored by the post-Stone Roses Ian Brown; Ad-Rock then took the song in a scuzzier direction.
Norah Jones, “That’s What I Said”
Not just the owner of Cobble Hill’s most notorious windows, Norah Jones has a strong hip-hop subtext to her career–if you take hip-hop lyrics at face value, she once nearly collaborated with hirsute white rapper R.A. The Rugged Man. Here Ad-Rock repositions Jones’s soothing vocals over what sounds like a not-entirely-awkward marriage between mid-’90s trip-hop and the deep subtones of drum ‘n’ bass.
Beck, “Shake Shake Tambourine”
In this collaboration–which was pretty much waiting to happen since the inception of Beck’s career–a funky/possibly stoned white boy calls on a similarly cast Caucasian to revamp his melancholy musings. Ad-Rock naturally obliges, upping the atmospherics by adding some dubby echoes.
Lady Sovereign, “A Little Bit Of Shhh!”
Oh, the career of Louise Harman, who spent a couple of years rapping in a cringe-inducing ragga twang before deciding to spread the gospel of grime to the US only to end up being dumped on a reality TV show. As if to heap insult on a pretty calamitous career, Ad-Rock’s remix does little more than add the holler, “New York City, what? Let’s do this!” to the intro and boosts the beats a bit. The ensuing “Sorry!” ad lib doesn’t exactly smack of compassion.
Ad-Rock’s version of the Jewish reggae artist’s uplifting call to the kids is one of his more extensive musical re-workings, with the original track’s lolling vibe replaced by some late-’80s-style dance beats. The ensuing ditty really needs a guest rap from Betty Boo.
2005 was presumably a bumper year for Ad-Rock’s savings account; his major label work for Lady Sovereign and Beck was followed up by a chance to remix Universal’s German cash cow Rammstein. Ad-Rock plays it by the book with this remix, adding harsh, abrasive and stripped-down beats to the group’s demonic rants. (He probably could have got away with pairing this song with the same beat used on the Lady Sov remix, to be honest.)
M.I.A., “Paper Planes”
In the interests of not adding to the always-growing mass of critical musings on M.I.A., let’s just say that Ad-Rock infuses a smart skank to her most Grammy-friendly hit; the results are much more tolerable than a certain preening diva’s shenanigans.
Fatboy Slim, “Praise You”
After notching up a few decent hip-hop remixes for esteemed hip-hop figures like Eric B & Rakim, The Real Roxanne, and Stetsasonic, Norman Cook stumbled on the idea of combining breakbeats with simple slogans. It proved to be a winning formula, and one that Ad-Rock–this time in cahoots with fellow Beastie Mike D–smartly tempered, turning a song aimed for the dance floor into a more laid-back and, at times, sorta-psychedelic affair.
Mexican Institute Of Sound, “Alcatel”
Atmospheric? Sure, at least before Ad-Rock falls back on his standard remix tactic of simply layering punching kick-drums underneath whatever vocal track has been palmed his way. Creative salvation comes around the two-minute mark here, where the beat is briefly but perkily switched up.
Ralph Nader, “Countdown”
Allegedly, this song is the result of Ad-Rock cutting-and-pasting snippets of presidential rabble-rouser Ralph Nader’s speeches. (The learning comes from the insight “America is losing.”) Hillary, it is said, was not amused, apparently preferring Steinski’s similarly styled “The Motorcade Sped On.”