On Ill Communication, the Beastie Boys continued the direction of their previous album Check Your Head, growing from strictly a rap group to a band that had its own distinctive sound. Once again they played their own instruments on many of the tracks and continued to expand their musical palette. While the vocal tracks are not as consistently strong as their first three albums, it's the eclecticism that makes this a great album that becomes more rewarding with repeated listens.
There are several excellent tracks here with some of the vocal tracks such as "Root Down", "Sure Shot", "Get It Together", which features Q-Tip, and the hit single "Sabotage" being among their best rap songs. On these tracks, they continue to shine lyrically using their trademark old school references, especially on "Sure Shot." But just as they've matured musically, one only need to listen to the lyrics on "Bodhisattva You", in which MCA speaks of his Buiddhist faith, to see that the band has matured lyrically as well. The tracks "Heart Attack Man" and "Tough Guy" show the band recalling their early punk roots. However, it's the instrumentals here such as the jungle rhythms of "Shabala" and "Bobo On The Corner", the chaotic "Futterman's Rule", the warped "Eugene's Lament", and the slow jazz of "Ricky's Theme" that make the album a cohesive whole. The tracks "Sabrosa", "B-Boys Makin'With The Freak Freak", "Flute Loop", and the solemn album closer "Transitions" are also very good. Further illustrating the mood and diversity of the album is that the vocals are often distorted and dominated in the mix by the music, especially on the second half of the album. All told, this is the sound of a band evolving, a band that continues to challenge themselves with each release. Highly recommended.