Twenty years ago, when the Beastie Boys first hit the nascent rap scene like an M-80 in the school bathroom, there were few who thought the three white boys from New York City were anything more than a one-hit wonder. Their breakout single, "Fight for Your Right to Party," ensured them a lasting legacy at frat parties and keggers for all eternity, but come on...who really thought the Beastie Boys would have endured this long, let alone become one of the most seminal groups in hip-hop?
In a world where pop music fame is measured in minutes, fame in the rap game can be measured in seconds. Only a small handful of performers have created any sort of lasting legacy, continued to create music, and managed to hold on to a fan base that never seems to diminish.
The new concert film Awesome; I Fuckin' Shot That! serves as a testimony to the lasting legacy of the Beastie Boys, who returned home for a sold-out show at Madison Square Garden in October 2004. In the audience were 50 people who had been given video cameras to record the concert, the footage from which would be used to create an official bootleg video.
"It was an idea I got from this kid," said director Nathaniel Hornblower (a.k.a. Beastie Boy Adam "MCA" Yauch) during a phone interview. "This kid had posted some footage online, on our message boards. He had shot part of a concert on his cameraphone, and then uploaded it, and I thought it looked really cool, and I just had an idea to document a concert like that."
Shot from 50 different points of view, Awesome is a nonstop, kinetic kaleidoscope of imagery that is sure to get Beastie Boys fans excited. At times the film moves at breakneck speed, and occasionally risks becoming more about visual dynamics and editing style than the actual concert. But it takes a lot to distract fully from what the Beasties throw down on stage. The trio is at their best when they stop rapping and take off on a super-funkified musical interlude accompanied by Alfredo Ortiz and Money Mark. And when hip-hop legend Doug E. Fresh joins the Boys for a little human beatboxing, you can't help but have a great time.
Awesome; I Fuckin' Shot That! is not as spirit-lifting as Dave Chappelle's Block Party, which serves as cultural time capsule as much as concert film. But on its own, Awesome works not only as a concert but also as an exercise in creative filmmaking, and as a great addition to the Beastie Boys' oeuvre.