Beastie Boys

You won't catch me listening to rap, unless it's the Beastie Boys! I first heard about the Beastie Boys from MAD magazine, of all things, but couldn't have named any of their songs. I saw one of their albums in the library and figured I'd give it a listen, not knowing what to expect. As soon as I heard "Rhymin' and Stealin'" I thought "wow this is awesome" (after thinking wait, isn't this a Led Zeppelin song).

The Beastie Boys are not your average rap group. They extensively sample a variety of music, and often times their songs are goofy, satiric, or just plain strange. Originally founded as a punk group, they transitioned to rap before releasing their first album. However, their non-rap roots are evident on many songs where they play instruments in addition to their vocal parts. They even released a purely instrumental recording (The Mix-Up). Although early albums had recordings that some considered misogynistic or homophobic, they've apologized publicly and on subsequent albums.

The Beastie Boys are made of Ad-Rock (Adam Horovitz), Mike D (Mike Diamond), and MCA (Adam Yauch, RIP). On later albums, they were joined by Mix-Master Mike (Michael Schwartz).

Nate's Epic Beastie Boys Playlist

  1. Sabotage (Ill Communication 1994)
  2. Intergalactic (Hello Nasty 1998)
  3. Rhymin' and Stealin' (Licensed to Ill 1986)
  4. 3 the Hard Way (To the 5 Boroughs 2004)
  5. So Whatcha Want (Check Your Head 1992)
  6. Super Disco Breakin' (Hello Nasty 1998)
  7. No Sleep Till Brooklyn (Licensed to Ill 1986)
  8. Body Movin' (Hello Nasty 1998)
  9. Long Burn the Fire (Hot Sauce Committee Part Two 2011)
  10. Ch-Check It Out (To the 5 Boroughs 2004)
  11. Shadrach (Paul's Boutique 1989)
  12. Shazam! (To the 5 Boroughs 2004)
  13. Lee Majors Come Again (Hot Sauce Committee Part Two 2011)
  14. The Sounds of Science (Paul's Boutique 1989)
  15. Professor Booty (Check Your Head 1992)
  16. Make Some Noise (Hot Sauce Committee Part Two 2011)
  17. Too Many Rappers (Hot Sauce Committee Part Two 2011)
  18. Brass Monkey (Licensed to Ill 1986)
  19. An Open Letter to NYC (To the 5 Boroughs 2004)
  20. She's Crafty (Licensed to Ill 1986)
  21. Gratitude (Check Your Head 1992)
  22. Unite (Hello Nasty 1998)
  23. Sure Shot (Ill Communication 1994)
  24. Shake Your Rump (Paul's Boutique 1989)
  25. Paul Revere (Licensed to Ill 1986)

Licensed to Ill (1986)


The first album, this one contains the most raw sound and has the purest "rap" quality. There's a lot of talk about girls, partying, and alcohol, as they posture to show they're the new game in town. My favorite songs are "Rhymin' and Stealin'," "No Sleep Till Brooklyn," and "Brass Monkey."

Rhymin' and Stealin' Any time you sample Led Zeppelin, you get my vote. There's a ton of literary and cultural references, and I love it. This song is a little rougher than most of the future tracks but that's okay.

She's Crafty: Another Led Zeppelin sample! This song tells a great story about bringing a girl home from the bar, which he eventually regrets.

Girls: This song has an ABA format. The first part talks about girls, then there's a section where Ad-Rock tells a story about a girl, then it's back to talking about girls.

Fight For Your Right: I hate this song. The music video is funny, but otherwise I hate this song.

No Sleep Till Brooklyn: A way better song than that "Fight for your Right" junk. No idea why they're not sleeping until Brooklyn but the guitar riff is awesome. I like this music video, where the group makes fun of hair metal bands.

Paul Revere: A made-up story about how the band originally got together. It has the band's favorite things: girls and beer.

Hold It Now, Hit It: This is a weird song, and the music video is even weirder. Just a bunch of cool dudes making faces, talking in weird voices, and bouncing around.

Brass Monkey: The dissonant staccato sax (at least I think it sounds like a saxophone) riff makes the song. Other than that, the song is pretty straightforward.

Paul's Boutique (1989)


"Paul's Boutique" didn't make waves when it initially came out, but it has been acknowledged as some of the Beastie Boys' best work after the fact. There's plenty of rap but there's more jazz, rock, pop, and loads of other stuff. My favorite songs are "Shake Your Rump," "The Sounds of Science," "Hey Ladies," and "Shadrach."

Shake Your Rump: The fast beat is perfect for nodding your head along with the song. And how can you not like a song where they should "Shake Your Rump-aaaaaaah!"

Egg Man: I like the simplicity of this song, as the Boys rap over a repetitive riff, but include other samples (including the theme from Jaws).

High Plains Drifter: Usually they rap in unison or one at a time, but there are some parts of the song where they rap slightly off from each other. I also like the use of "Those Shoes" by the Eagles.

The Sounds of Science: The beginning of this song is super weird, with electronic moos (just give it a listen). Suddenly, the song picks up, sampling the riff from The Beatles' "The End." My favorite line is "Ponce de Leon / Constantly On!"

Hey Ladies: Similar to the songs on their first album. It's a song about ladies, and a catchy one at that.

Looking Down the Barrel of a Gun: This is a much darker-sounding song, and I enjoy the guitar riffs.

Shadrach: This song is great. I like the female backups, twist on a Sly and the Family Stone song (Loose Booty), and the fast lyrics. The title/chorus is in reference to a biblical story from the Book of Daniel. The music video is an animation of paintings, you can check it out here.

Ill Communication (1994)


This album's best song, "Sabotage," shows how far the Beastie Boys have come since their first album. There's a lot more rock influences but still plenty of rap. My favorite songs are "Sure Shot," "Sabotage," and "Bodhisattva Vow."

Sure Shot: I like the flute part combined with the drum beat. It's like a mature version of "Hold it Now." Watch the music video and you'll see what I mean. My favorite part of the song is when MCA apologizes for previous offensive remarks about women, stating "I want to offer my love and respect to the end."

Root Down: This song is kinda funky, especially with the heavy bass.

Sabotage: This song is freakin' awesome. It's in your face with borderline-obnoxious sound. I'll admit that I was very confused by the music video as a younger child; was this the theme song for an old school cop show? It took much too long to get the joke.

Get It Together: This song is more like a straightforward rap song, featuring Q-Tip. Yeah that's his name.

Futterman's Rule: An instrumental track, I like the funky sound, with a sound that builds up then dissipates.

Alright Hear This: I love the cowbell riff in the background, really helps move the groove along.

Do It: I like the strange voice that just repeats "lessss do itttt" a bunch of times.

Bodhisattva Vow: I'm pretty sure there's some Tibetan throat singing in the background.

Hello Nasty (1998)


This is the last album for a few years, and for some reason my brain considers it the last "original" Beastie Boys album. Lots of great samples on these tracks. My favorite songs are "Super Disco Breakin'," "Body Movin'," "Intergalactic," "Three MCs and One DJ," and "Dr. Lee, PhD."

Super Disco Breakin': The perfect bumpin' song to open the album, it has a great beat that makes you want to get up and dance like you're at a live concert. I like the occasional use of siren, it adds a lot for some reason.

Song for the Man: This song has a dissonant, dragging sound. I think its unappeal makes it appealing.

Body Movin': What's better than using "Oye Como Va" for a sample? Using the steel drum version, of course! To me, this song always goes along perfectly with "Super Disco Breakin'." They both sound like songs that make you want to nod your head and groove along. It has a super weird music video which I highly recommend.

Intergalactic: There's something completely ridiculous about the backbeat of this song, and I love it. It has a groove but it's a little more low key. I love when they let the beat, mmmmm drop? The only thing making this song better would be if it had a ridiculous music video. Well, it does.

And Me: This song is a little weird, but I like the drum beat.

Three MCs and One DJ: This song strongly features Mix Master Mike, with some crazy DJ interludes throughout the song. I like the simplicity of the song, lacking the complex samples and instrument parts of most other songs.

The Grasshopper Unit: I like the backbeat of the song, with its twangy quality.

I Don't Know: This is such a non-Beastie Boys song, with a subdued sound and an acoustic quality. Completely different than most of their other work, but an interesting song nonetheless.

Electrify: I like that they sample Tchaikovsky's "Firebird Suite" towards the end of the song.

Unite: A song with a nice bounce like "Super Disco Breakin'." It's got that great slow groove with emphasized beats.

Dr. Lee, PhD: This song is another level of weird, but something about it cracks me up.

To the 5 Boroughs (2004)


The first album of the new millenium, it is heavily influenced by the post-9/11 state of the world and anti-Bush feelings. My favorite songs are "Ch-Check It Out," "3 the Hard Way," "Shazam!," and "An Open Letter to NYC."

Ch-Check It Out: This song has a really catchy beat, letting you know the Beastie Boys are back. The music video has all the best things. Fish-eye lens, exaggerated gesturing/posturing, getting close to the camera, walking around random places, ridiculous costumes, and weird filters.

3 the Hard Way: The low-key beat makes the lyrics really pop on this song. Every time I see a "Modell's" in NYC, I think of this song. I definitely like the mention of "gnip gnop" (ping pong spelled backwards).

Time to Build: I really like the line "it takes a second to wreck it / it takes time to build."

Hey Fuck You: Shabbadu shabbadee! Who can argue with an excellent name for a song like this, or the use of "put a quarter in your ass / cuz you played yourself."

Oh Word?: I like the beat, but I really like how each member gets their own verse, and their name is announced right before they start. Just sounds cool.

Shazam!: Anytime you sample "Open Sesame," you know it's going to be good. There are too many great lines to even start naming, but the cheese references towards the beginning are pretty great.

An Open Letter to NYC: I love this song. The Beastie Boys profess their love and support for their favorite city, demonstrating how NYC has come together after 9/11. It's one of the few serious Beastie Boys song, but they pull it off.

We Got The: A good beat and song fast lyrics. Can't go wrong there. Weird way of ending the song and the album though.

The Mix-Up (2007)


This is an entirely instrumental album. I can't name any of the songs on here, but they make for some great study or background music, the perfect blend of jazz, funk, and rock.

Hot Sauce Committee Part Two (2011)


The last album before the unfortunate passing of MCA. There's a great variety of music capturing that mixture of sounds that is uniquely Beastie Boys. They also produced a 30 minute music video featuring cameos from numerous comedians, answering the question: what happened after the music video for "Fight for your Right" ended? Its the Beastie Boys music video to end all music videos. My favorite songs are "Make Some Noise," "Too Many Rappers," "Long Burn the Fire," and "Lee Majors Come Again."

Make Some Noise: Some old school Beastie Boys to set the stage, laying down a sick beat and sicker rhymes. Don't miss the cowbell solo!

Ok: Plenty of vocal distortion on this track, with some new-wavey background sound.

Too Many Rappers: I really like the song's beat, with some weird background sounds. The lyrics are pretty great too.

Long Burn the Fire: This song is a little intense but I love the imagery. I wish it had a music video. I think this song emphasizes/focuses on the lyrics more than many of the other songs on the album, with the beat providing support but not overtaking the song.

Lee Majors Come Again: Here the Beastie Boys rock out, similar to the track "Heart Attack Man" but better. My favorite part is when they shout "Lee Majors come again," and the song just goes crazy.

Here's a Little Something For Ya: This makes the list just for the "m-m-m-m-m-m-m-Mike D."