The creators of a new bread of hip hop, re-innovators of the sample, and the only reason Brooklyn ever became cool in the first place. The Beastie Boys launched their debut album in 1986, and they have been rhymin & stealin ever since. In fact, “Rhymin & Stealin” itself (the opening track off their debut album, License to Ill ) does a pretty good job of describing The Beasties. There is no better move to make you seem like a badass than using the drum intro to Led Zeppelins “When the Levee Breaks” as the intro to you opening song on your debut album. If the rumors are true, they are still being sued over some of the samples used in both License to Ill as well as Paul’s Boutique.
To cut-to-the-chase, last weekend, Adam “MCA” Yaunch passed at 47 years young due to cancer. This leaves Hot Sauce Committee Pt 2 to be The Beastie Boys final album they would record together. We at LxL loved our Beastie’s, and they will be sorely missed. So in honor of MCA, here is a list of our top ten Beastie Boys tracks of all time. Be advised that almost all the videos attached are very worth watching if you have never seen them before.
Note: Unfortunately, no tracks from Hot Sauce Committee Pt 2 made the list, but I wanted to at least mention the necessity of watching the short film they made for release of the album if you haven’t seen it already. You can watch Fight For Your Right Revisited here. Now onto the list …
10. “Ch-Check It Out”
Our only song chosen from the album To the 5 Boroughs is a great choice to lead off with, because in this live Letterman performance, you can see just why we will miss MCA so much. Lively, fun, and on-point. The song also features a sample from Otis Redding’s “Sittin’ On the Dock of the Bay”, and anything Otis touches, or in turn anything that touches Otis, is gold.
9. “Get It Together”
As far as I know, this is about the only track that The Beastie’s really featured another rap artist, which is extremely rare for rap/hip hop albums. Normally hip hop albums are packed like sardines with guests. Beasties could generally hold their own though. They didn’t rely on superstar’s names to help make their tracks successful. That being said, Q-Tips bit on “Get It Together” was a perfect fit for the flow of the track, and the combo between he and the Boys was a match made in heaven.
8. “So What’cha Want”
“This time I’m losin’ my mind!” Check Your Head was the third album released by the white hip hop genius’, and it was the first time they decided to pick up their instruments for the album. This song sums up the album perfectly, and provided us with a new catch phrase for the the 90’s “what’cha, what’cha, what’cha want?”.
7. “Hey Ladies”
This selection was mainly on me. I fought hard to get “Hey Ladies” high up the list. Something about the way the funky guitar riff from the P-Funk Allstars, slips into an excessive amount of cowbell, alongside the way they use the line “She thinks she’s the passionate one” from “Ballroom Blitz” really gets me going. Not to mention the ridiculous lyrics, and a pickup line for the ages … “Hey Ladieeeees!”
“Listen all y’all, it’s a sabotage!” MCA’s performance in this brilliant Spike Jonze music video, can only be trumped by his running onto stage during Michael Stipe’s acceptance speech at the MTV Music Awards in his Nathaniel Hornblower disguise, yelling “Sabotage”. This song is pure amperage. I swear, it could get my Grandma up out of her grave and ready to rob a bank.
5. “Sure Shot”
A flute riff so outta control Jethro Tull literally passes out when he hears this track, and sounds of summertime if they’ve ever existed. MCA became a revolutionary due to his verse in this track that slanders all rappers who slander and disrespect women in their rhymes. What a nice guy.
4. “Shake Your Rump”
Kicking off my favorite Beastie Boys album with a bang. This track gets you to do exactly what the title suggests, and with that many samples from 70’s funk and soul, how could it not?
After it reigning as the highlight track to the infamous “Robot Party” (fairly self explanatory, it’s a party that you dress up like a robot) my friend Tyler and I made the “Intergalactic Planetary Pact”. We promised each other there would never be a week in our lives that we wouldn’t listen to this track at least once. I can’t say that I’ve held up my end of the bargain, but I do promise that I regret it every time I realize a week has been skipped. Notable for two incredible lines, “I like my sugar with coffee and cream” as well as the retooling of their own one-word-line from License to Ill and the one word that jumpstarted Pharcyde’s career, “Drop”. The video is also another instant Beasties classic and was directed by none-other than Adam “MCA” himself under his Nathaniel Hornblower pseudo-name.
2. “No Sleep Till Brooklyn”
Somehow, these white rapper/hip hop/punk nobodies managed to scrounge up guitar legend Kerry King (from Slayer) to perform on their debut album. I have to think it had something to do with Rick Rubin … the result was a track that is essential for any and every late night road trip and the best hair banger song of all time.
1. “Paul Revere”
The accidental recording of a simple drum-line backwards was the birth of a notorious beat that has been stolen but never replicated since. This song is a simple, soft, slow-driving force that is a fictional tale of how the Beastie Boys met. Something about the simplicity of the song and the rawness of the rapping is the perfect storm. It’s hip hop to its core. It was released as a single, and although it didn’t do as well as the other tracks from License to Ill, it holds a special place in our hearts at #1.
The “just missed our list” list …
Wes – “Car Thief”
Here is one song I really wish the Boys would have made a video out of. I think it would have been hilarious. Nonetheless, and despite the audio quality of the link posted, it’s another phenomenal track from Paul’s Boutique. I really connected with Wes back in his reckless middle-school years at Leo High when he was boosting cars on the regular. Now he just listens to it for nostalgia purposes, but occasionally you may see him bumping it in a curious ride.
Austin – “Brass Monkey”
The “Brass Monkey” is many things. A drink, a sex position, a saxophone, for most Leo High Schoolers in the class of 2004, it was a joke. It is impossible to explain the effect this song had on Austin and I’s life through high school. A certain unnamed female schoolmate, with a last name that ever so subtly resembled the word “Monkey” was dating one of our best friends. Disgustingly enough, this female was notorious for having hair greasier than the salisbury steak served at Leo High. Naturally, our tack sharp wit combined with our love for the Beasties evolved inducing the inclination for a punny lyrical re-write to the effect of “Grease Monkey”. You can see why our friend was not of a fan of this while they were dating, and you can equally see why it was necessary to sing it constantly. It should be noted that our friend “Bruce” was especially cruel with it, taking it to the next level by singing it directly to girl while using props in his hair to make it looks greasier as well as lice-infested.
Todd – “Looking Down the Barrel of a Gun”
Sampling Pink Floyd, Mountain, and a driving bass line (performed by MCA) that sounds like a Black Sabbath track. The lines “looking down the barrel of a gun/son of a gun/son of a b*tch” are delivered amazingly. Following those lines is a reference to one of my favorite movies, “A Clockwork Orange”. Pooling together these elements alongside the fact that it is in the middle of a fantastic 4 song cluster on one of my favorite albums … damn I’m gonna miss these guys.
So there is the list. Let us know what we unforgivably missed, or got right, but still feel free to just rip on us in general …