Category: The Beastie Boys

The Beastie Boys – Check Your Head

ARTIST: The Beastie Boys 

TITLE: Check Your Head


CHART ACTION:  #10 US, #106 UK

SINGLES: Pass the Mic (#47 UK), So Whatcha Want (#93 US, #21 Alternative, #122 R&B), Jimmy James (#55 UK), Gratitude, Professor Booty, Something’s Got to Give

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Funky Boss, The Maestro

LINEUP: King Ad-Rock, MCA, Mike D, Money Mark Nishita. Mario Caldato produced. Biz Markie did a vocal, and various percussionists helped.

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: The Beasties evolve again, adding their own instruments into their highly-sampled tracks.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: The Beastie Boys started as a punk band, back in the day, and even after they moved to hip-hop they still had a punk ethos. So after playing their own backing for a couple of tracks on Paul’s Boutique, they created more songs that utilized their own instruments on bass, guitar and drums. (MCA a/k/a Adam Yauch really loves to use pedal effects on his bass). Augmented by keyboardist Mark Nishita and other percussionists (congas and what not), the Beasties add a bit funk and Latin rhythms into their songs.

Meanwhile, they continued to experiment with sounds and samples, and while they weren’t as snotty and misanthropic as before, tracks like “So Whatcha Want” and “Pass the Mic” had plenty of their old attitude. And then, as the album winds down, “Namaste” shines a light on MCA’s journey to Buddhism and peace.

This is an ambitious project and encompasses quite a bit of musical territory. The number of instrumentals really shows the Beasties as serious about their musical chops. It’s not as fantastic as Paul’s Boutique but is impressive just the same.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: Caldato was the third producer in three albums for the Beasties, though he did engineer quite a bit of Paul’s Boutique

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: Yes, a Japanese version and then a big Deluxe version.

 GRADE: A: It’s not Paul’s Boutique, but it’s still pretty fantastic.

Beastie Boys – Paul’s Boutique

ARTIST: Beastie Boys                   220px-BeastieBoysPaul'sBoutique

TITLE: Paul’s Boutique


CHART ACTION: #14 US, #24 R&B, #44 UK

SINGLES: Hey Ladies (#36 US, #18 Alternative, #76 UK), Shadrach

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Shake Your Rump, Egg Man

LINEUP: Mike D, Ad-Rock, MCA, Mario Caldato, the Dust Brothers

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: An incredible tour-de-force of rhymes, beats, and samples. Loads and loads of samples. Perfect.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: There’s still juvenile snotty humor, extolling drugs, ladies, and partying. But, but, this is not the party album that Licensed to Ill was. It’s it’s own thing.

And it’s a good thing.

The production by the Dust Brothers incorporates a great deal of deep, deep samples – mostly from the results of crate digging for funk and soul records of the 60’s and 70’s. The rhymes move somewhat away from the party and are full of obscure references (Harthrone Wingo, FTW!), and the beats by Mario Caldato are spot on. The transitions between tracks are spot on, too, and it’s a looped album (the ending notes and the beginning notes are the same).

Then there’s “B-Boy Boulliabase” – nine snippets of tracks of different styles all sewn together expertly, and it’s 15 minutes well spent.

It’s not a stretch to say that this album is one of the top 5 hip-hop albums of all time and its influence resonates today.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: Mike D. bought the music and rights from the Dust Brothers and they were put on the project to create this. Also, check out


 GRADE A+: Ask for Janice.

Beastie Boys – License to Ill

ARTIST: Beastie Boys                                   220px-Licensed_to_ill

TITLE: Licensed to Ill


CHART ACTION: #1 US, #2 R&B, #7 UK

SINGLES: Hold It Now, Hit It (#55 R&B), The New Style (#22 R&B), Paul Revere (#34 R&B), Brass Monkey (#48 US, #83 R&B), (You Gotta) Fight for Your Right (To Party) (#7 US, #11 UK), No Sleep till Brooklyn (#14 UK), Girls (#34 UK)


LINEUP: Ad-Rock, MCA, Mike D. Kerry King famously played guitar on No Sleep till Brooklyn

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Fun, if problematic, debut long player album from punk group turned hip hop force.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: After “Cookie Puss”, the Beastie Boys went through huge changes, as they decided to turn themselves from a snotty punk band to a snotty hip hop outfit. After a couple of singles and soundtrack appearances, they and Rick Rubin released this opus, which introduced hip hop to snotty suburban bros (ok, maybe not introduced, but made it OK for them to like).

So many great samples, so many great production moments, so so many great one-liners, and yet, it’s problematic. It’s hard, now, to listen to this at times, with the many references to violence and the rampant misogyny. But, were those references tongue in cheek? Maybe so.

I’m going with the tongue in cheek answer. It’s partly a product of the times, a parody at times of the culture of suburban white kids, and dang the rhymes are great. Even now, my best friend and I will bust out “Got six girlies in my Lincoln Continental” when we’re feeling fresh.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: The move to hip hop was the impetus for Kate Schellenbach to leave the band, as there was no room for her anymore.


GRADE: A: It’s got rhymes like Abe Vigoda.

Beastie Boys – Some Old Bullshit

ARTIST: Beastie Boys Beastie_Boys_-_Some_Old_Bullshit

TITLE:  Some Old Bullshit

YEAR RELEASED: Compilation


SINGLES: Cookie Puss


LINEUP: Michael Diamond, Adam Yauch, Kate Schellenbach, John Berry – later Adam Horovitz replaced Berry.

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: NYC punk rock band releases an 8-track EP, PBeastie_Boys_EP_cover_Polly_Wog_Stewolly Wog Stew, then after a subtle lineup change, releases the prank call single “Cookie Puss”.

 SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: I’m starting at the beginning for the Beastie’s, chronologically. This combines their EP and single that they made before turning to hip-hop.

You can tell the snotty attitude is there that would carry them through the first part of their more famous incarnation, but as a punk rock band they were snotty kits with guitars. The future Mike D. is the vocalist, Adam Yauch plays bass. When Horowitz joins, he replaces Berry at guitar.

I don’t think anything much more was expected of them, until “Cookie Puss” becomes an underground sensation. This leads them to adding more samples and rap into their sets, and well…there you go.220px-Cookypuss

The Polly Wog Stew EP isn’t that great, and “Cookie Puss” loses its charm on repeat listening. You don’t really need this whole thing, but “Egg Raid on Mojo” is definitely worth seeking out.

NOTES & MINUTAE: Kate Schellenbach, the drummer (who may be the best musician at this time and place) left the Beasties and later joined Luscious Jackson


GRADE: C-: Laugh at “Cookie Puss” once, keep “Egg Raid on Mojo” and “Transit Cop”. The rest is exile worthy.