3 MCs and 1 DJ
“Now here’s a little story I got to tell about 3 bad brothers you know so well. It started way back in history with Ad-rock, MCA, and Mike D.”
The clash of punk rock, rap, flavored with humorous lyrics made The Beastie Boys stand out to me amidst my dad’s other records when I was very young. Their unique sound is comprised of many different elements such as heavy guitar riffs, usage of looped beats and turntables, as well as the distinct vocals of all 3 Beastie Boys not only allowed them to capture my attention, but also the music industry throughout their career.
When the band formed in 1979 its members were Adam Yauch popularly known as “MCA” and Mike Diamond “Mike D.” and another two members John Berry and Kate Schellenbach that eventually left and allowed Adam Horovitz “Ad-Rock” to land his place as the third member of the band.
During the 1980s when the Beastie Boys made their first major album release of Licensed to Ill, this album could be found amidst other by pop artists like Madonna, whom they toured with and received minimal attention from her fans. However, their tour with groups like Run-D.M.C. and LL Cool J on their Raising Hell tour allowed them to gain exposure from rap fans allowing them to eventually land them a single on Billboard’s national R&B and Dance charts.
Many of the Beastie Boys’ hits came off Licensed to Ill including “(You Gotta) Fight for Your Right (To Party!)”, “Girls”, and “No Sleep Til Brooklyn”. With no surprise, this album was the first Rap LP to hit the Billboard charts including one of the fastest selling albums as well, selling over 9 million copies in the US. One of my favorite Beastie Boys songs “Brass Monkey” also came off this album. Holding the foundation beneath their rap is the sample “Bring It Here” by Wild Sugar and a Roland TR-808 drum machine.. This video was released later in their career of their performance live in Madison Square Garden. The chemistry between the Beasties is rather undeniable in this video as they show their well-known charisma. Even though this is years after the release of Licensed to Ill, I don’t think the Beastie Boys lost the high-intensity spirit by any means. They trade verses effortlessly as if they have the tight close-knitted relationship found between brothers. I think this close relationship adds to the appeal of their music because they sound like they’re having a good time rapping and making music together. Even live, the verses they rap together are extremely tight, and they don’t miss a single beat. And as always, Adrock’s unique voice and jokester-esque rap never fails to be amusing.
Their third single off the same album “Paul Revere” is also a Beastie Boys classic song. Adrock being my favorite Beastie Boy, it’s difficult not to mention this single. The song was supposedly written after the Beastie Boys were waiting around for Run-D.M.C. outside of a recording studio when Simmons runs out of the studio yelling, and when he finally reaches the Beastie Boys he says “Here’s a little story I got to tell” and he encouraged the Beastie Boys to write a song including these lyrics. This song is a fictional story about how the Beastie Boys got together in the Wild West. Again, they always are entertainers with their ridiculous and quirky lyrics–when running away each member grabs something different: Mike D. makes the money top priority, MCA snatches the gold, and Adrock grabs two girls and a cold beer. This song also captures a more hip-hop-y vibe than some of their other songs with a stable drum beat and a record scratching solo section toward to end to add some flavor.
On their fifth album Hello Nasty, their song “Intergalatic” was released. “Intergalatic” won a Grammy Award for Best Rap Performance by a Duo or Group. In this music video, the Beastie Boys wear their famous “Intergalatic” construction worker-esque attire, and it also features an over-sized robot attacking a city. In Hello Nasty, the Beastie Boys are firmly planted in the hip-hop genre with only minimal rock influence. They again use turntables to demonstrate more record scratching prowess. The lyrics of this song are, too, rather silly and light-hearted–they don’t really demonstrate the serious aspect of rap music, but rather incorporate their own style and bring something else to the hip-hop/rap genre.
The Beastie Boys legacy continues to live on even after the early death of their member Adam Yauch in 2012, the same year they were inducted into the Rock n’ Roll Hall of Fame as the third hip-hop group ever. The Beastie Boys were able to master the genres of rock, hip-hop, and rap, and brought a completely new sound to the music world. Their ability to trade verses, pick samples, and write humorous lyrics is unparalleled. Although I will never see them play live, the charisma and sheer quality captured in all their songs and albums is still enough to keep them on all my iPod’s best playlists.