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Beastie Boys

As the first white rap group of any importance, the Beastie Boys received the scorn of critics and strident hip-hop musicians, both of whom accused them of cultural pirating, especially since they began as a hardcore punk group in 1981. But the Beasties weren't pirating -- instead, they treated rap as part of a post-punk musical underground, where the D.I.Y. aesthetics of hip-hop and punk weren't that far apart. Of course, the exaggerated b-boy and frat-boy parodies of their unexpected hit debut album, Licensed to Ill, didn't help their cause. For much of the mid-'80s, the Beastie Boys were considered macho clowns, and while they dismissed that theory with the ambitious, Dust Brothers-produced second album, Paul's Boutique, it was ignored by both the public and the press at the time. In retrospect, Paul's Boutique was one of the first albums to predict the genre-bending, self-referential pop kaleidoscope of '90s pop. The Beasties refined their eclectic approach with 1992's Check Your Head, where they played their own instruments. Check Your Head brought the Beasties back to the top of the charts, and within a few years, they were considered one of the most influential and ambitious groups of the '90s, cultivating a musical community not only through their music, but with their record label, Grand Royal, and their magazine of the same name.

It was a remarkable turn of events for a group whose members demonstrated no significant musical talent on their first records. All three members of the Beastie Boys -- Mike D (b. Mike Diamond, November 20, 1966), MCA (b. Adam Yauch, August 5, 1965; d. May 4, 2012), and Ad-Rock (born Adam Horovitz, October 31, 1967) -- came from wealthy middle-class Jewish families in New York and had become involved in the city's punk underground when they were teenagers in the early '80s. Diamond and Yauch formed the Beastie Boys with drummer Kate Schellenbach and guitarist John Berry in 1981, and the group began playing underground clubs around New York. The following year, the Beasties released the 7" EP Pollywog Stew on the indie label Rat Cage to little attention. That same year, the band met Horovitz, who had formed the hardcore group the Young and the Useless. By early 1983, Schellenbach and Berry had left the group -- they would later join Luscious Jackson and Thwig, respectively -- and Horovitz had joined the Beasties. The revamped group released the rap record "Cookie Puss" as a 12" single later in 1983. Based on a prank phone call the group made to Carvel Ice Cream, the single became an underground hit in New York. By early 1984, however, they had abandoned punk and turned their attention to rap.

In 1984, the Beasties joined forces with producer Rick Rubin, a heavy metal and hip-hop fan who had recently founded Def Jam Records with fellow New York University student Russell Simmons. Def Jam officially signed the Beastie Boys in 1985, and that year they had a hit single from the soundtrack to Krush Groove with "She's on It," a rap track that sampled AC/DC's "Back in Black" and suggested the approach of the group's forthcoming debut album. The Beasties received their first significant national exposure later in 1985, when they opened for Madonna on her Virgin tour. The Beasties taunted the audience with profanity and were generally poorly received. One other major tour, as the openers for Run-D.M.C.'s ill-fated Raisin' Hell trek, followed before Licensed to Ill was released late in 1986. An amalgam of street beats, metal riffs, b-boy jokes, and satire, Licensed to Ill was interpreted as a mindless, obnoxious party record by many critics and conservative action groups. That didn't stop the album from becoming the fastest-selling debut in Columbia Records' history, however, as it sold over 750,000 copies in its first six weeks.

Much of the album's success was due to "Fight for Your Right (To Party)," which became a massive crossover single. In fact, Licensed to Ill became the biggest-selling rap album of the '80s, which generated much criticism from certain hip-hop fans who believed that the Beasties were merely cultural pirates. On the other side of the coin, the group was being attacked from various factions on both the left and the right, who claimed the Beasties' lyrics were violent and sexist and that their concerts -- which featured female audience members dancing in go-go cages and a giant inflatable penis, similar to what the Stones used in their mid-'70s concerts -- caused even more outrage. Throughout their 1987 tour, they were plagued with arrests and lawsuits, and were accused of inciting crime.

While much of the Beasties' exaggeratedly obnoxious behavior started out as a joke, it became a self-parody by the end of 1987, so it wasn't a surprise that the group decided to revamp its sound and image during the next two years. During 1988, the Beasties became involved in a bitter lawsuit with Def Jam and Rick Rubin, who claimed he was responsible for their success and threatened to release outtakes as their second album. The Beasties finally broke away by the end of the year and relocated to California, where they signed with Capitol Records. While in California, they met the production team the Dust Brothers, and they convinced the duo to use their prospective debut album as the basis for the Beasties' second album, Paul's Boutique. Densely layered with interweaving samples and pop culture references, the retro-funk-psychedelia of Paul's Boutique was entirely different than Licensed to Ill, and many observers weren't quite sure what to make of it. Several publications gave it rave reviews, but when it failed to produce a single bigger than the number 36 "Hey Ladies," it was quickly forgotten about.

Despite its poor commercial performance, Paul's Boutique gained a cult following, and its cut-and-paste sample techniques would later be hailed as visionary, especially after the Dust Brothers altered the approach for Beck's acclaimed 1996 album, Odelay. Still, the record was declared a disaster in the early '90s, but that didn't prevent the Beasties from building their own studio and founding their own record label, Grand Royal, for their next record, Check Your Head. Alternating between old-school hip-hop, raw amateurish funk, and hardcore punk, Check Your Head was less accomplished than Paul's Boutique, but equally diverse. Furthermore, the burgeoning cult around the Beasties made the album a surprise Top Ten hit upon its spring 1992 release. "Jimmy James," "Pass the Mic," and "So Whatcha Want" were bigger hits on college and alternative rock radio than they were on rap radio, and the group suddenly became hip again.

Early in 1994, they collected their early punk recordings on the compilation Some Old Bullshit, which was followed in June by their fourth album, Ill Communication. Essentially an extension of Check Your Head, the record debuted at number one upon its release, and the singles "Sabotage" and "Sure Shot" helped send it to double-platinum status. During the summer of 1994, they co-headlined the fourth Lollapalooza festival with the Smashing Pumpkins. That same year, Grand Royal became a full-fledged record label as it released Luscious Jackson's acclaimed debut album, Natural Ingredients. The Beasties' Grand Royal magazine was also launched that year.

Over the next few years, the Beasties remained quiet as they concentrated on political causes and the machinations of their record label. In 1996, they released the hardcore EP Aglio e Olio and the instrumental soul-jazz and funk collection The In Sound from Way Out! Also that year, Adam Yauch organized a two-day festival to raise awareness about the plight of Tibet, and the festival went on to become an annual event. The Beastie Boys' long-awaited fifth LP, Hello Nasty, finally appeared during the summer of 1998 and became their third chart-topping album. A longer wait preceded release of their next record, To the 5 Boroughs, which appeared in mid-2004. In 2005, Capitol issued Solid Gold Hits, a 15-track survey of the Beasties' lengthy career. One year later, the band released a concert film titled Awesome: I F**kin' Shot That!, which had been pieced together from footage shot by 50 DV and Hi-8 cameras that had been distributed to fans. The DVD version appeared in July of that year.

An instrumental album, The Mix-Up, continued the band's prolific activity in 2007 and garnered a Grammy Award the following year. The Beastie Boys returned to rap with Hot Sauce Committee, Pt. 1, parts of which were previewed during the band's performance at the 2009 Bonnaroo festival, but the album ended up unreleased in the wake of Yauch's announcement that he had cancer. He underwent successful surgery and radiation treatment, and the band announced late in 2010 that Hot Sauce Committee, Pt. 2 (including virtually all the material intended for the first volume) would be released in 2011. They made good on their promise; the album appeared in May, and was positively received both critically and commercially. One year later, however, in May of 2012, Yauch finally succumbed to his cancer. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine
full bio

Selected Discography

x

Track List: Hot Sauce Committee Part Two (Explicit)

1. Make Some Noise

2. Nonstop Disco Powerpack

3. OK

5. Say It

6. The Bill Harper Collection

8. Long Burn The Fire

9. Funky Donkey

10. The Larry Routine

11. Tadlock's Glasses

12. Lee Majors Come Again

13. Multilateral Nuclear Disarmament

14. Here's A Little Something For Ya

15. Crazy A** S**t

16. The Lisa Lisa/Full Force Routine

x

Track List: The Mix-Up

1. B For My Name

2. 14th St. Break

3. Suco De Tangerina

4. The Gala Event

5. Electric Worm

6. Freaky Hijiki

7. Off The Grid

8. The Rat Cage

9. The Melee

10. Dramastically Different

11. The Cousin Of Death

12. The Kangaroo Rat

x

Track List: Solid Gold Hits

1. So What'cha Want

2. Brass Monkey

3. Ch-Check It Out

5. Hey Ladies

6. Pass The Mic

7. An Open Letter To NYC

8. Root Down

9. Shake Your Rump

10. Intergalactic

11. Sure Shot

12. Body Movin' (Fatboy Slim Remix)

13. Triple Trouble

14. Sabotage

15. Fight For Your Right

x

Track List: To The 5 Boroughs (Explicit)

1. Ch-Check It Out

2. Right Right Now Now

3. 3 The Hard Way

4. Time To Build

5. Rhyme The Rhyme Well

6. Triple Trouble

7. Hey F*** You

8. Oh Word?

9. That's It That's All

10. All Lifestyles

11. Shazam!

12. An Open Letter To NYC

13. Crawlspace

14. The Brouhaha

15. We Got The

x

Track List: Hello Nasty

1. Super Disco Breakin'

2. The Move

3. Remote Control

4. Song For The Man

5. Just A Test

6. Body Movin'

7. Intergalactic

8. Sneakin' Out The Hospital

9. Putting Shame In Your Game

10. Flowin' Prose

11. And Me

12. Three MC's And One DJ

13. The Grasshopper Unit (Keep Movin')

14. Song For Junior

15. I Don't Know

16. The Negotiation Limerick File

17. Electrify

18. Picture This

19. Unite

20. Dedication

21. Dr. Lee, PhD

22. Instant Death

x

Track List: The In Sound From Way Out!

1. Groove Holmes

2. Sabrosa

3. Namaste

4. Pow

5. Son Of Neckbone

6. In 3's

7. Eugene's Lament

8. Bobo On The Corner

9. Shambala

10. Lighten Up

11. Ricky's Theme

12. Transitions

13. Drinkin' Wine

x

Track List: Ill Communication (Explicit)

1. Sure Shot

2. Tough Guy

3. B-Boys Makin' With The Freak Freak

4. Bobo On The Corner

5. Root Down

6. Sabotage

7. Get It Together

8. Sabrosa

9. The Update

10. Futterman's Rule

11. Alright Hear This

12. Eugene's Lament

13. Flute Loop

14. Do It

15. Ricky's Theme

16. Heart Attack Man

17. The Scoop

18. Shambala

19. Bodhisattva Vow

20. Transitions

x

Track List: Some Old Bullshit (Explicit)

2. Beastie Boys

3. Transit Cop

4. Jimi

5. Holy Snappers

6. Riot Fight

7. Ode To...

8. Michelle's Farm

9. Egg Raid On Mojo

11. Cooky Puss

12. Bonus Batter

13. Beastie Revolution

x

Track List: Check Your Head

1. Jimmy James

2. Funky Boss

3. Pass The Mic

4. Gratitude

5. Lighten Up

6. Finger Lickin' Good

7. So What'cha Want

8. The Biz Vs The Nuge

9. Time For Livin'

10. Something's Got To Give

11. The Blue Nun

12. Stand Together

13. POW

14. The Maestro

15. Groove Holmes

16. Live At P.J.'s

17. Mark On The Bus

18. Professor Booty

19. In 3's

20. Namaste

x

Track List: Paul's Boutique (20th Anniversary Edition)

1. To All The Girls

2. Shake Your Rump

3. Johnny Ryall

4. Egg Man

5. High Plains Drifter

6. The Sounds Of Science

7. 3-Minute Rule

8. Hey Ladies

9. 5-Piece Chicken Dinner

10. Looking Down The Barrel Of A Gun

11. Car Thief

12. What Comes Around

13. Shadrach

14. Ask For Janice

x

Track List: Paul's Boutique

1. To All The Girls

2. Shake Your Rump

3. Johnny Ryall

4. Egg Man

5. High Plains Drifter

6. The Sounds Of Science

7. 3-Minute Rule

8. Hey Ladies

9. 5-Piece Chicken Dinner

10. Looking Down The Barrel Of A Gun

11. Car Thief

12. What Comes Around

13. Shadrach

14. Ask For Janice

x

Track List: Licensed To Ill

1. Rhymin & Stealin

2. The New Style

3. She's Crafty

4. Posse In Effect

5. Slow Ride

6. Girls

7. Fight For Your Right

8. No Sleep Til Brooklyn

9. Paul Revere

10. Hold It Now, Hit It

11. Brass Monkey

12. Slow And Low

13. Time To Get Ill

x

Track List: Check Your Head: Limited Collector’s Edition Box Set 7"

1. Lee Majors Come Again

x

Track List: Make Some Noise (Radio Single)

1. Make Some Noise

x

Track List: Too Many Rappers (Single)

Comments

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Egg raid on mojo tonite!!*
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rinstyles81
Best evevr
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Thanks Pandora for adding thumbprint
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ktatum18
Om
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You are the coolest!!!
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Rip MCA

Go Mike D and AdRock
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apk42404
Slow and Low an Paul Revere are is my favorite
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livviefredri c k
I love your music
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Play that funky music white boyzzzz!!!!
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sreshwan
Love that Funky Monkey.
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My cause is noble. I want to stop chain posting so I'm gonna fight fire with fire. Copy this to how many songs you would like or don't at all. But the message is this "STOP CHAIN POSTING!" Thank you for your time.
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I moi I j
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Girls! Girls! Girls!
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smortensen11
Extremely difficult to listen to today's 'rap' having grown up listening to this
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hstreetgirl
I miss the 90's��
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If this gonna be that kind of party, I'm gonna stick my d#ck in the mashed potatoes!
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Your crush will kiss you on Friday if you post this on five more songs
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Brass Monkey
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the ill s**t
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GIRLS
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Paul's boutique is the White Albumn of hip hop. RIP MCA!
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bikeday13
The Beatles of hip hop. Legendary. Enough said
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PAUL REVERE
MY FAV. ☺
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Beastie Boys Forever
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Hard as nails. Never forget rootz. "No, my name's Clarence".
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Brass monkey funkey monkey
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@chemshop50 I will take some....... Just kidding I'm not a worthless piece of s**t ������
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@chemshop50 wtf??????
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@chemshop50 are you f**king retarded? Must be to post some illegal s**t like that. Don't worry about snitches. Your stupid enough to tell on yourself lol.
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Beastie boys f**ked their wives
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Mike d mca I forgot the other ones name
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Classic
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Nwa buncha bumba clot Batty boys!!! Spit some conscious lyrics like my man Wise from PRT!
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Run dmc?
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E swift(the liks DJ) flows better than half these Katz in the industry! Then and now! But esp now! All these new young a** Mc's r wack as Fck my boy illy has more lyrical skill in one finger than any industry kat out today an none of y'all heard of em. Wuts that tell u bout hip hop?
Report as inappropriate
When I think of real hip hop legends sorry but nwa don't come to mind. I listened to them when I was in 6th grade cuz they cussed n were bad a**'s.... but as a grown man? I'm str8 with that sht. Chuck D, Tribe, epmd, rakim, beasties, dela, ect all deserve a movie more than those dudes. They ain't even my favorite west coast rap, s**t the liks got that crown in my book or cypress!!!
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Yea someone should have got a flick b4 those Katz for sure man.
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Beasties rule!! They wer a gr8 part of growing up !!!
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Time to get ill
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I did it with a whiffle ball bat SOOOOOOOOOOO
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I love their albums
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Damm good song
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boneleech
Best damn band ever
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Coming from Texas..my Respect to Brooklyn. Bedford-Syut e v s a n t
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eyeshot2pac
More adidas sneakers than a plumber's got pliers
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mic control...
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MaBell she got the ill cmunication. . . .
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B
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E
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A
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