Beastie Boys – Ill Communication (2xLP)
By 1994 the Beasties had settled into their cultural role as the grand arbiters of cool, and Ill Communication is pretty much a catalog of coolness: live funk, a bit of hardcore, ingenious samples of obscure records, keyboards by analogue master Money Mark, guest shots by Q-Tip and Biz Markie, MCA's cop-show metal number "Sabotage," and the inevitable cascade of witty old-school rhymes. But it's also a surprisingly mature record from a band that had, after all, been at it for 12 years already. The original jazz-funk instrumentals hold their own with the group's favorite sample sources. Their voices are modestly buried in the mix, and they've tempered their old snottiness with lyrical compassion: check out "Bodhisattva Vow," a salute to Buddhist spirituality.