Beastie Boys

The Beastie Boys and their buddies.
Being a skateboarder in the mid nineties it was nearly impossible to avoid Beastie Boy’s music. I recall being too young to drive and getting rides around town from a friend’s older girlfriend. Almost every ride was scored with Paul’s Boutique. It’s those kinds of experiences that really cement certain music in my mind. I can remember all sorts of specifics from those rides in that white Ford Topaz with a failing paint job. The car was real piece of crap, the kind of car you’d see burning on the side of the highway on the first hot day of the summer. It was permeated by the smell of mango air fresheners from The Body Shop. I gotta say being a young lad discovering my masculinity at the time I was slightly embarrassed to ride with this girl but heck, a ride is a ride and that age riding anywhere without a family member at the helm was empowering. But enough of talking about hippie stoner girls and their crappy cars. Beastie Boys is the topic at hand!

Beastie Boys are a hip hop group that was formed in 1979 on the island of Manhattan(a borough of NYC), New York. I find that fact to be interesting since you don’t really hear of too many groups coming from Manhattan itself. Most of the rap groups in the area are from the Bronx, Queens, Brooklyn or Staten Island and then play at Manhattan venues but Manhattan born and bread, you don’t hear of that so much. Beastie Boys originally got their start as a hardcore band. They achieved mild success as a hardcore act and recorded some material that appeared on a handful of compilations in the early eighties. In 1984 they switched over to rap. I have no idea how such a change took place but I can’t recall any other acts making such a drastic switch five years into their existence. Whatever their reasoning a divine hand was at work because they turned out to be a gift to the Hip hop world. Their music opened up the world of hip hop to people who may have passed it by. At the time much rap music was very serious discussing some intense social topics of the day but not the Beastie Boys. Their song topics were about partying, mischief and lighthearted stories just the angle that hip hop needed to show the world that it can present more then one image.

The group is made up three MCs, Mike D, MCA and Ad-Rock. In the late nineties they added a dedicated DJ by the name of Mix Master Mike. They’ve had a decent number of albums through the years. Not too many though. Enough to keep fans salivating for the newest release whenever it drops. The core of the group, the three MC’s has remained the same through the band’s 25+ year existence. Truly a feat for a band in any genre. Trey have amassed a large following here in the United States selling out all sorts of shows from single events to nation wide concert tours.

Beastie Boys currently have eight albums released. I’d say of those eight, any first five are pretty good. The later three are hit and miss. I find that with their newer material in some cases they have changed up their formula, rather then cool sounding tunes about pop culture and having fun they have added a political message. While talking politics may make sense for a speech at an awards show it really turns me off in a tune. Mainly because it dates a song, in a negative way. Sure there are examples where politically motivated tunes are timeless but the Beasties political tunes are not of that ilk. Let see, so my faves would have to be, Check Your Head and Hello Nasty but the others are fantastic too. They also have some really good DVD releases out there. *One of them has their entire video catalog remixed in DTS format and I’d highly suggest it if you have a nice home stereo. They even have an album slated to come out this year or next, should be interesting.

1) Licensed to Ill [1986]
2) Paul’s Boutique [1989]
3) Check Your Head [1992]
4) Ill Communication [1994]
5) Hello Nasty [1998]
6) To the 5 Boroughs [2004]
7) The Mix-Up [2007]

*Beastie Boys DVD Video Anthology – Criterion Collection

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