The Beastie Boys changed a number of things about the rap game. They stepped out with Run-DMC back in the day, breaking beats with the 808 on Licensed to Ill and bringing hip-hop out of the shadows.
But they were able to evolve in a way that Run-DMC (let’s be honest) never did. They had been playing instruments since their earliest incarnation as a punk band, but when they picked them up again for Paul’s Boutique, things changed and they reinvented themselves into something for which most fans (myself included) weren’t prepared. 3 Feet High and Rising was one thing, but this took it to strange new places.
I didn’t get back on board until Check Your Head, but that album was everywhere at New College. A wall wasn’t a wall without at least one cut from the Beasties, usually several. And when Ill Communication dropped two years later, MCA became my favorite of the Boys.
All three had shown their chops as musicians and lyricists, of course. (Ad-Rock gave us an unforgettable performance in Roadside Prophets.) But Yauch seemed to have grown up more than the other guys, adopting a deep involvement with Buddhism as evidenced by his track Bodhisattva Vow (sorry, it’s not on YouTube). And then there was the whole lyric about “the disrespectin’ women has got to be through”.
Just as when Jam-Master Jay died, this is likely to signal the end of the group (though I hope Mike D and Ad-Rock will continue to make music). No trio could have hoped to produce a more impressive collection of albums or more excellent videos — hopefully I don’t need to provide links. But here are some anyway.
What Cha Want
I’ll be honest: By the time of Hello Nasty I was kinda worn out on the Beastie Boys. They were so incredibly popular that I heard the music all over everywhere, and buying their albums felt redundant. I came back for To The Five Boroughs, thanks mostly to Jesse, who never let it go. (Thanks, J.)
I got Diane a copy of Hot Sauce Committee when it came out, but I’ve never listened to it much. Time to get started.
Rest in peace, MCA. Your bodhi essence enriches us all.
The Beastie Boys were cool enough to appear (well, their heads, anyway) on Futurama in 1999.