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Beastie Boys

Beastie Boys

Rap group

They started out as a young trio who wanted to fight for their right to party, but the Beastie Boys have grown into socially-conscious rappers in more than 15 years of producing their own rap/punk blend. But even as their lyrics became more mature over time, they still maintained their loud, aggressive, and rebellious sound. The group's success allowed expansion into other business ventures, including owning their own record company, publishing a magazine, and creating a specially designed line of clothing.

Michael "Mike D" Diamond, Adam "King Ad-Rock" Horovitz, and Adam "MCA" Yauch met as teenagers hanging out in New York clubs, and they all grew up in New York in families that were no strangers to creativity. Horovitz was the son of playwright Israel Horovitz. His parents divorced when he was just three years old and his mother Doris, who was a painter and managed a thrift store, raised him. Adam Yauch grew up with a father who was a painter and an architect and a mother who was a social worker. Michael Diamond's father worked as an art dealer, but died when Michael was just 16 years old. His mother was an interior decorator.

The Beastie Boys started out playing in a hardcore band called the Young and the Useless. While still in high school they released their first punk album on Ratcage Records, called Polly Wog Stew, and the following year released a single called "Cooky Puss." Without the band's permission, British Airways used a portion of the single in a commercial. The group won the subsequent lawsuit, and was paid $40,000. The money helped them focus on their music full-time, and a contract with Def Jam Records' head Rick Rubin led to greater exposure. The single "She's On It" was released on the soundtrack for Krush Groove in 1985.

Fought for Their Right to Party

In 1986, the Beastie Boys released their debut on Def Jam Records titled Licensed to Ill. The album included the hit singles "Fight for Your Right (to Party)" and "No Sleep Till Brooklyn," and earned multi-platinum sales. It later became the first rap album to reach number one on the Billboard album charts. As a result, the Beastie Boys had earned great success with a less-than-respectable image. But soon, the members began to fall prey to their own "party boy" media hype. "It wasn't until "Fight for Your Right (to Party)" came out that we started acting like drunken fools," Adam Yauch told Akiba Lerner and Mark LeVine in Tikkun. "At that point, our image shifted in a different direction, maybe turning off the kids that were strictly into hip-hop. It started off as a goof on that college mentality, but then we ended up personifying it." Their bad-boy image was fueled by reports that the group had made a music journalist cry during an interview, and that they had been banned from the executive offices of CBS Records for allegedly stealing a camera. The group didn't win much respect on the music front either. David Handelman wrote in Rolling Stone, "When the Boys weren't being called Monkees for not playing instruments, they were being called Blues Brothers for plundering a black music form and making more louie off it."

The Beastie Boys vigorously performed a lengthy tour in support of the album, and Licensed to Ill became the first rap album to surpass the four million copies sold mark in 1987. "We started getting sick of each other and of being on the road, even sick of the band and what it represented, like we were ashamed to be a part of it," Yauch told (need first name) Light in Spin."We decided to take some time apart from each other." Yauch spent his time away from the group on a side project called Brooklyn, and performed in clubs around New York.

Branched Out in Style and Business

During this same time, the members of the Beastie Boys got into a dispute with Rick Rubin and Def Jam Records over royalty payments. The argument ended in a split with the record label. "Leaving Def Jam was kind of a blessing in disguise," Michael Diamond told Alan Light in Rolling Stone, "because we can make whatever record we want." To further change the pace of their lives and music, the trio moved from New York to Los Angeles and signed a new record contract with Capitol Records.

In 1989, the group released their next album, Paul's Boutique, named after the Brooklyn store that appears on the cover. The Beastie Boys also recorded the store's radio advertisement on the album. On Paul's Boutique, the group moved in a slightly more mature direction. David Hiltbrand wrote in People, "With their second album, the New York trio has created a prodigiously inventive, genre-bleeding, free-for-all style." But this unfamiliar musical mix was not well received by fans, and the group's popularity waned. The album barely sold 500,000 copies—a significant drop from the multi-platinum sales of Licensed to Ill.

For the Record …

Members include Michael Diamond ("Mike D," born on November 20, 1965, in New York, NY; married to Tamra Davis; children: two), vocals, drums; Adam Horovitz ("King Ad-Rock," born on October 31, 1966, in New York, NY), vocals, guitar; Adam Yauch ("MCA," born on August 15, 1967, in Brooklyn, NY; married to Dechan Dangdu; children: one daughter), vocals, bass.

Group formed as Young and the Useless in the early 1980s; changed name to Beastie Boys and released Polly Wog Stew EP on Ratcage Records, 1982; signed record contract with Def Jam Records, 1985; released multiplatinum Licensed to Ill, 1986; signed record contract with Capitol Records, 1988; released Paul's Boutique, 1989; released Check Your Head, 1992; founded Grand Royal Records and Grand Royal magazine, 1992; released Ill Communication and Same Old Bullshit, 1994; released Hello Nasty, 1998; closed Grand Royal record label, 2001; released To the 5 Boroughs on Capitol Records, 2004.

Addresses: Record company—Capitol Records, 1750 North Vine St., Hollywood, CA 90028, website: http://www.hollywoodandvine.com. Website—Beastie Boys Official Website: http://www.beastieboys.com.

The maturation of the Beastie Boys' music also revealed itself in its members' lives. The 'bad boy' party image they had maintained began to slow down to a more low-key pace. "Just as we were finishing Paul's Boutique, we got our own places, and I was going to clubs a lot less," Yauch told Joe Levy in Rolling Stone. "I got a bit more introverted and spent a lot more time on my own, reading. I would just go down to the esoteric bookstore and wander around." After the release of Paul's Boutique, the trio took more time off and entered into some outside business ventures. They started their own record label and began publishing their own magazine, both under the name Grand Royal. They signed artists they wanted to support to their label, and broadcast news about the band, their lifestyle, and their world view in the magazine. They also went on to produce their own line of street wear clothing called X-Large to match their stage image.

Played Own Instruments

In 1992, the Beastie Boys decided to return to the studio to record Check Your Head. This time, in addition to their rap vocals, each member of the band played his own instrument instead of relying on technological wizardry and sampling to provide the music. Adam Horovitz played guitar, Adam Yauch picked up the bass, and Michael Diamond pounded the drums. The singles "Pass the Mic" and "Whatcha Want" helped boost the sales of Check Your Head beyond platinum.

But critics had a mixed response to the album. Hiltbrand wrote in People, "The sound is murky and messy, the music sloppy and uninvolving. The lyrics certainly contain none of the smartass cleverness that marked the trio's earlier work." Light had a different outlook in Rolling Stone, "They won the fight for their right to party, and then, while no one was looking, the Beastie Boys turned into one of today's most consistently creative bands."

Maintaining an easy-going recording pace, the Beastie Boys waited until 1994 to release their next effort, Ill Communication, which included "Get It Together" and "Sabotage." They reclaimed their popularity and high sales when the album debuted at number one on Billboard's album charts. David Browne wrote in Entertainment Weekly, "Call it novelty, slacker rap, or sheer white urban noise—whatever the tag, it's the most tantalizing ear candy in years, the incessantly inventive sound of brats dismantling pop and trying to reassemble it in their own ingeniously klutzy ways." During that summer, the Beastie Boys co-headlined the popular Lollapalooza tour with alternative rock band Smashing Pumpkins. The trio also released a compilation of the group's earliest recordings, including their lucky charm "Cooky Puss," titled Same Old Bullshit.

Fought for the Rights of Others

In the early 1990s, Adam Yauch began exploring Buddhism, and eventually exclusively studied Tibetan Buddhism. He co-founded the Milarepa Fund to raise the awareness of China's oppression of the Tibetan people. The Beastie Boys donated all the publishing proceeds from "Shambala" and "Bodhisattva Vow" on Ill Communication to the Milarepa Fund. Following the tour for the album, Yauch organized several Tibetan Freedom concerts and a film documentary to increase awareness of Tibet's struggle.

The Beastie Boys took nearly four years off before they returned to the studio again. All three members moved back to New York, and each spent their time pursuing their own interests. Yauch worked on the Milarepa Fund, Diamond managed Grand Royal Records and the magazine, and Horovitz sought out talent to sign to the label and produced and recorded with other artists. "It's been four years between records, but it wasn't like we were sitting at home," Horovitz told Light in Spin. "We basically saw each other almost every day."

In 1998, the trio returned with the release of Hello Nasty and the single "Intergalactic." Within the first week of its release, the album soared to number one on Billboard's album chart and sold a whopping 681,500 copies. "Hello Nasty jumps from rap to easy listening to Latin to noise to soul to opera to rock without pausing for a breath," wrote Neil Strauss in the New York Times.

The members' individual personalities also made their distinct mark on the album as Ann Powers noted in the New York Times, "Attentive listeners will notice an unresolved split between the group's attempts at egoless expression and the consummately ego-driven boasts essential to its raps."

Michael Diamond explained how their personal divisions worked into their own cohesive style to Levy in Rolling Stone. "On this record, we went back to the three of us just getting together and sharing ideas, then piecing something together and spreading it out," he said. "So it's much more of a collective where we're all saying each other's lyrics, like on Paul's Boutique."

Closed Grand Royal

Aside from the requisite touring that followed the release of Hello Nasty, the Beastie Boys remained relatively quiet over the next few years, focusing their attention away from the band and more towards their label, Grand Royal, Grand Royal Magazine, and their X-Large clothing company. Over the years Grand Royal, headed up by Gary Gersh, John Silvam, and Mike D, had put out countless releases by the likes of Sean Lennon, Luscious Jackson, At the Drive-In, and Beastie Boys side projects like BS2000. In 2000, the label even inked a deal with Virgin Records for American distribution. In 2001, however, the label was put to rest. In a statement made on the Grand Royal website, Diamond explained that, "Our intentions were always simply to create a home for exciting music and the people who were passionate about it. It really sucks that we can't continue to do that." The last release, At the Drive-In's Relationship of Command sold over 1 million records.

Though the loss of the Beastie's label was an obvious blow, the group began to show up on the musical map a bit more often, starting in 2003, when they released an instrumental version of Hello Nasty. In 2004, they issued an expansive coffee table book, entitled Beastie Boys Anthology: The Sounds of Science, which featured photos and commentary by the boys on various songs and subjects.

It would be almost 6 years, however, until the Beasties finally returned with an album of new material. In the summer of 2004, Capitol Records issued To the 5 Boroughs, the Beasties' open love letter to their hometown of New York City. The new album also questioned American foreign policy and the war in Iraq. Besides political commentary, however, To the 5 Boroughs was a chance for the Beastie Boys to return to the more simplistic days of being three MC's rapping over straight up hip-hop beats. The Cincinnati Post said the album "isn't just a love letter to New York, it's also a love letter to old-school hip-hop. Compared with Hello Nasty, or the instrument-laden Ill Communication and Check Your Head, the new album is a sparse affair built on break beats, drum loops, samples, scratches, and keyboards."

After nearly two decades of making music together, the Beastie Boys continue to push the limits of rap and hip-hop music into new directions. They took their musical influences and blended them into their own style, ignoring the praise and the criticism to pursue their own creative path. "It would be nice to look at ourselves as innovators," Horovitz told Chris Mundy in Rolling Stone. "I think we are creative, but in terms of being masterminds, no. We're just making music that we like."

Selected discography

Licensed to Ill, Def Jam, 1986.

Paul's Boutique, Capitol, 1989.

Check Your Head, Capitol, 1992.

Ill Communication, Grand Royal/Capitol, 1994.

Same Old Bullshit, Grand Royal/Capitol, 1994.

Hello Nasty, Grand Royal/Capitol, 1998.

To the 5 Boroughs, Capitol, 2004.

Sources

Periodicals

Billboard, November 14, 1987; April 18, 1992; April 23, 1994; August 1, 1998; August 5, 2000.

Cincinnati Post (Cincinnati, OH), October 14, 2004.

Entertainment Weekly, March 18, 1994; June 3, 1994; July 22, 1994; July 17, 1998; July 31, 1998; June 18, 2004.

Hollywood Reporter, September 4, 2001.

Interview, August 1994; August 2004.

Newsweek, August 3, 1998.

People, August 28, 1989; June 1, 1992; July 20, 1998.

Playboy, April 1987, June 1987, July 1987.

New York Times, July 14, 1998; July 19, 1998.

Rolling Stone, February 12, 1987; December 17, 1987; August 10, 1989; May 28, 1992; June 2, 1994; August 11, 1994; October 30, 1997; May 28, 1998; August 6, 1998.

Spin, September 1998.

Tikkun, November-December 1996.

Time, May 18, 1992; July 4, 1994; August 10, 1998; June 14, 2004.

Online

"Beastie Boys," All Music Guide,http://www.allmusic.com (May 19, 2005).

SonyaSheltonand

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Beastie Boys

Beastie Boys

Rap group

For the Record

Fought for Their Right to Party

Branched Out in Style and Business

Played Own Instruments

Fought for the Rights of Others

Selected discography

Sources

They started out as a young trio who wanted to fight for their right to party, but the Beastie Boys have grown into socially-conscious rappers in more than 15 years of producing their own rap/punk blend. As their lyrics became more mature, they maintained their loud, aggressive, rebellious sound. The groups success allowed expansion into other business ventures, including owning their own record company, publishing a magazine, and creating a line of clothing.

Michael Mike D Diamond, Adam King Ad-Rock Horovitz, and Adam MCA Yauch met as teenagers hanging out in New York clubs. They all grew up in New York in families that were no strangers to creativity. Adam Horovitz was the son of playwright Israel Horovitz. His parents divorced when he was just three years old, and he was raised by his mother Doris, who was a painter and managed a thrift store. Adam Yauch grew up with a father who was a painter and an architect and a mother who was a social worker. Diamonds father worked as an art dealer, but died when Michael was just 16. His mother was and interior decorator.

For the Record

Members include Michael Mike D Diamond (born November 20, 1965, New York, NY), vocals, drums; Adam King Ad-Rock Horovitz (born October 31, 1966, New York, NY), vocals, guitar; Adam MCA Yauch (born August 15, 1967, Brooklyn, NY), vocals, bass.

Group formed as Young and the Useless in the early 1980s; changed name to Beastie Boys and released Polly Wog Stew EP on Ratcage Records, 1982; signed record contract with Def Jam Records, 1985; released multiplatinum Licensed to III, 1986; signed record contract with Capitol Records, 1988; released Pauls Boutique, 1989; released Check Your Head, 1992; founded Grand Royal Records and Grand Royal magazine, 1992; released III Communication and Same Old Bullshit, 1994; released Hello Nasty, 1998.

Addresses: Record company Grand Royal, P.O. Box 26689, Los Angeles, CA 90026.

The Beastie Boys started out playing in a hardcore band called the Young and the Useless. While still in high school they released their first punk album on Ratcage Records, called Polly Wog Stew, and the following year released a single called Cooky Puss. Without the bands permission, British Airways used a portion of the single in a commercial. The group won the subsequent lawsuit and were paid $40,000. The money helped them focus on their music full-time, and a contract with Def Jam Records head Rick Rubin led to greater exposure. The single Shes On It was released on the soundtrack for Krush Groove in 1985.

Fought for Their Right to Party

In 1986, the Beastie Boys released their debut on Def Jam Records titled Licensed to III. The album included the hit singles Fight for Your Right (to Party) and No Sleep Till Brooklyn, and earned multiplatinum sales. It later became the first rap album to reach number one on the Billboard album charts. As a result, the Beastie Boys had earned great success with a less-than-respectable image. But soon, the members began to fall prey to their own party boy media hype. It wasnt until Fight for Your Right (to Party) came out that we started acting like drunken fools, Yauch told Akiba Lerner and Mark LeVine in Tikkun. At that point, our image shifted in a different direction, maybe turning off the kids that were strictly into hip-hop. It started off as a goof on that college mentality, but then we ended up personifying it. Their bad-boy image was fueled by reports that they made a music journalist cry during an interview, and that they had been banned from the executive offices of CBS Records for allegedly stealing a camera. The group didnt win much respect on the music front either. David Handelman wrote in Rolling Stone, When the Boys werent being called Monkees for not playing instruments, they were being called Blues Brothers for plundering a black music form and making more louie off it.

The Beastie Boys vigorously performed a lengthy tour in support of the album, and Licensed to III became the first rap album to surpass the four million copies sold mark in 1987. We started getting sick of each other and of being on the road, even sick of the band and what it represented, like we were ashamed to be a part of it, Yauch told Light in Spin. We decided to take some time apart from each other. Yauch spent his time away from the group on a side project called Brooklyn that performed in clubs around New York.

Branched Out in Style and Business

During this same time, the members of the Beastie Boys got into a dispute with Rick Rubin and Def Jam Records over royalty payments. The argument ended in a split with the record label. Leaving Def Jam was kind of a blessing in disguise, Michael Diamond told Alan Light in Rolling Stone, because we can make whatever record we want. To further change the pace of their lives and music, the trio moved from New York to Los Angeles and signed a new record contract with Capitol Records.

In 1989, the group released their next album, Pauls Boutique, named after the Brooklyn store that appears on the cover. The Beastie Boys also recorded the stores radio advertisement on the album. On Pauls Boutique, the group moved in a slightly more mature direction. David Hiltbrand wrote in People, With their second album, the New York trio has created a prodigiously inventive, genre-bleeding, free-for-all style. This unfamiliar musical mix was not well received by fans and the groups popularity waned. The album barely sold 500,000 copiesa significant drop from the multi-platinum sales of Licensed to III.

The maturation of the Beastie Boys music also revealed itself in its members lives. The bad boy party image they had maintained began to slow down to a more low-key pace. Just as we were finishing Pauls Boutique, we got our own places, and I was going to clubs a lot less, Yauch told Joe Levy in Rolling Stone. I got a bit more introverted and spent a lot more time on my own, reading. I would just go down to the esoteric bookstore and wander around. After the release of Pauls Boutique, the trio took some more time off and entered into some outside business ventures. They started their own record label and began publishing their own magazine, both under the name Grand Royal. They signed artists they wanted to support to their label, and broadcast news about the band, their lifestyle, and their world view in the magazine. They also went on to produce their own line of street wear clothing to match their stage image called X-Large.

Played Own Instruments

In 1992, the Beastie Boys decided to return to the studio to record Check Your Head. This time, in addition to their rap vocals, each member of the band played his own instrument instead of relying on technological wizardry and sampling to provide the music. Adam Horovitz played guitar, Adam Yauch picked up the bass, and Michael Diamond pounded the drums. The singles Pass the Mic and Whatcha Want helped boost the sales of Check Your Head beyond platinum.

The critics had a mixed response to the album. Hiltbrand wrote in People, The sound is murky and messy, the music sloppy and uninvolving. The lyrics certainly contain none of the smartass cleverness that marked the trios earlier work. Light had a different outlook in Rolling Stone, They won the fight for their right to party, and then, while no one was looking, the Beastie Boys turned into one of todays most consistently creative bands.

Maintaining an easy-going recording pace, the Beastie Boys waited until 1994 to release their next effort, III Communication, which included Get It Together and Sabotage. They reclaimed their popularity and high sales when the album debuted at number one on Billboards album charts. David Browne wrote in Entertainment Weekly, Call it novelty, slacker rap, or sheer white urban noisewhatever the tag, its the most tantalizing ear candy in years, the incessantly inventive sound of brats dismantling pop and trying to reassemble it in their own ingeniously klutzy ways. During that summer, the Beastie Boys co-headlined the popular Lollapalooza tour with alternative rock band Smashing Pumpkins. The trio also released a compilation of the groups earliest recordings, including their lucky charm Cooky Puss, titled Same Old Bullshit.

Fought for the Rights of Others

In the early 1990s, Adam Yauch began exploring Buddhism, and eventually exclusively studied Tibetan Buddhism. He co-founded the Milarepa Fund to raise the awareness of Chinas oppression of the Tibetan people. The Beastie Boys donated all the publishing proceeds from Shambala and Bodhisattva Vow on III Communication to the Milarepa Fund. Following the tour for the album, Yauch organized several Tibetan Freedom concerts and a film documentary to increase awareness of Tibets struggle.

The Beastie Boys took nearly four years off before they returned to the studio again. All three members moved back to New York, and each spent their time pursuing their own interests. Yauch worked on the Milarepa Fund, Diamond managed Grand Royal Records and the magazine, and Horovitz sought out talent to sign to the label and produced and recorded with other artists. Its been four years between records, but it wasnt like we were sitting at home, Horovitz told Light in Spin. We basically saw each other almost every day.

In 1998, the trio returned with the release of Hello Nasty and the single Intergalactic. Within the first week of its release, the album soared to number one on Billboards album chart and sold a whopping 681,500 copies. Hello Nasty jumps from rap to easy listening to Latin to noise to soul to opera to rock without pausing for a breath, wrote Neil Strauss in the New York Times.

The members individual personalities also made their distinct mark on the album as Ann Powers noted in the New York Times, Attentive listeners will notice an unresolved split between the groups attempts at egoless expression and the consummately ego-driven boasts essential to its raps.

Michael Diamond explained how their personal divisions worked into their own cohesive style to Levy in Rolling Stone. On this record, we went back to the three of us just getting together and sharing ideas, then piecing something together and spreading it out, he said. So its much more of a collective where were all saying each others lyrics, like on Pauls Boutique. After nearly two decades of making music together, the Beastie Boys continue to push the limits of rap and hip-hop music into new directions. They took their musical influences and blended them into their own style, eventually ignoring the praise and the criticism and pursuing their own creative path. It would be nice to look at ourselves as innovators, Horovitz told Chris Mundy in Rolling Stone. I think we are creative, but in terms of being masterminds, no. Were just making music that we like.

Selected discography

Licensed to III, Def Jam, 1986.

Pauls Boutique, Capitol, 1989.

Check Your Head, Capitol, 1992.

Ill Communication, Grand Regal/Capitol, 1994.

Same Old Bullshit, Grand Regal/Capitol, 1994.

Hello Nasty, Grand Royal/Capitol, 1998.

Sources

Billboard, November 14, 1987; April 18, 1992; April 23, 1994; August 1, 1998.

Entertainment Weekly, March 18, 1994; June 3, 1994; July 22, 1994; July 17, 1998; July 31, 1998.

Interview, August 1994.

Newsweek, August 3, 1998.

People, August 28, 1989; June 1, 1992; July 20, 1998.

Playboy, April 1987, June 1987, July 1987.

New York Times, July 14, 1998; July 19, 1998.

Rolling Stone, February 12, 1987; December 17, 1987; August 10, 1989; May 28, 1992; June 2, 1994; August 11, 1994; October 30, 1997; May 28, 1998; August 6, 1998.

Spin, September 1998.

Tikkun, November-December 1996.

Time, May 18, 1992; July 4, 1994; August 10, 1998.

Sonya Shelton

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"Beastie Boys." Contemporary Musicians. . Encyclopedia.com. 21 Aug. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Beastie Boys." Contemporary Musicians. . Encyclopedia.com. (August 21, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/education/news-wires-white-papers-and-books/beastie-boys-0

"Beastie Boys." Contemporary Musicians. . Retrieved August 21, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/education/news-wires-white-papers-and-books/beastie-boys-0

Beastie Boys

BEASTIE BOYS

Formed: 1981, New York, New York

Members: Michael Diamond/Mike D, lead rapper, drums (born New York, New York, 20 November 1965); Adam Horovitz/King Ad-Rock, lead rapper, guitar (born New York, New York, 31 October 1966); Adam Yauch/MCA, lead rapper, bass (born Brooklyn, New York, 15 August 1967).

Genre: Rap, Alternative Rock

Best-selling album since 1990: Ill Communication (1994)

Hits songs since 1990: "So What'cha Want," "Sabotage"


The Beastie Boys proved to be the most unlikely force in pop culture twice in their relatively sprawling career. Originally, they were the first white rap group of note, and for a period, regardless of their race, the most popular and controversial. The second time around, they reinvented themselves as the soul of genre-bending mid-1990s pop. Their chart presence seemed all but depleted at the start of the 1990s, the result of a backlash against their explosive popularity and drunken frat boy antics. Then seemingly out of nowhere, they re-emerged as a more sensitive and organic band with the release of their third album, Check Your Head (1992). They brought together an audience that liked hip-hop just as much as rock, and dabbled in disco kitsch to kick-start the 1990s fascination with the 1970s. This potent mixture made the group party favorites once again, but with a new social conscience that brought politics to the mainstream in an otherwise apathetic decade.


Rock to Rap to Riches

The Beastie Boys grew up in middle-class New York families, and like other kids of their age and class, they immersed themselves in the city's eclectic underground music scene. Diamond and Yauch formed the Beastie Boys as a hardcore punk band in 1981, and released Polly Wog Stew (1982) before Horovitz joined the band the following year. Exhibiting an early knack for absorbing influences, the band released the rap-inflected Cooky Puss in 1983, which caused a minor stir in the downtown scene. As a result, the band decided to shift gears and concentrate on the hip-hop sound. They attracted the attention of Def Jam Records founder Rick Rubin, who signed them to the label and produced their first notable single, "She's on It" (1985). The single solidified their high-concept sound and image: prankster rappers, who combined the beats and rhyming of hip-hop with the heavy metal guitars of white suburbia.


After tour stints opening for Madonna and Run-D.M.C., the Beastie Boys were unleashed on an unsuspecting mainstream with the release of Licensed to Ill (1986), which quickly became the best-selling album in rap history. The record features witty raps that satirize frat boys and B-boys alike, all set to Rubin's hard-rocking beats. Sales were driven largely by the single "Fight for Your Right (to Party)," a knuckleheaded anthem driven by crude raps and blaring guitars. The irony of their music was largely lost on their audience, who simply found it great to get drunk and party to. The Beastie Boys responded by becoming the kind of people they set out to mock, mounting a tour that celebrated rock star excess and gross behavior. They were attacked from all sides, accused of demeaning women, corrupting youth, and lampooning black culture. By the time the tour ended, the band was burned out, and retreated from public view.


The New Style

Over the next two years, the group seemed to further self-destruct; in actuality, they began laying the groundwork for their return to mass appeal. First, they split with Def Jam after a feud with Rubin. Then they signed to Capitol Records and released Paul's Boutique (1989), a sprawling album built on the inventive sampling strategy of their new production team, the Dust Brothers. Their fan base balked at the album's sophisticated collage of old-school funk and psychedelia, and the more subtle (but no less comic) raps, which lacked the shock value of Licensed to Ill. The album failed commercially, but its sonic template proved to be wildly influentialthe Dust Brothers went on to produce best-selling albums for Beck, White Zombie, and the Rolling Stones.

In 1992 the Beastie Boys returned to prominence with Check Your Head, a loose and diverse album that saw them combining the wild sampling of Paul's Boutique with live instrumentation. In the three years since its release, Paul's Boutique had found favor with hipsters and college radio DJs, and the Beastie Boys were suddenly hip, not merely popular. Their new image reflected their move to California, complete with 1970s-inspired clothing and a new commitment to women's rights and Buddhist spirituality. Their music was similarly inspired, running the gamut from party funk to old school rap to classic rock and hardcore punk. Check Your Head has something for everyone, all filtered through the Beastie Boys's come-one-come-all party aesthetic. This egalitarian attitude is the glue that holds together its wildly eclectic tracks; thus, the old school thump of "Pass the Mic" flows seamlessly into the Zeppelin-esque rock of "Gratitude." "So What'cha Want" emerges as the definitive track, with the fuzz-distorted Boys rapping goofily over a primal arena-rock drumbeat, and jittery scratches and horn samples providing irresistible texture. Check Your Head is at once catchy and soul stirring, and paved the way for genre-straddling hitmakers like Beck, Kid Rock, and Rage Against the Machine.

The group followed up Check Your Head with the similarly paced Ill Communication (1994). The album debuted at number one on the strength of the single "Sabotage," an infectious rock workout that features the muscular guitar and manic vocals of Ad Rock. The Spike Jonze-directed video for the song, which features the Boys mocking the testosterone-fueled cop shows of the 1970s, proved to be just as popular. The album, by comparison, feels a little too comfortable, especially after the freshness of Paul's Boutique and Check Your Head, but it is just as catchy and worthy in its own right. "Sure Shot" kicks off the album with a slinky flute sample, and includes an apology by MCA for the boorish behavior of their past: "I gotta say a little something that's long overdue / The disrespect to women has got to be through." The raps and backing tracks are more refined, deeper, and less amateurish than those on Check Your Head. They offer classic Beastie humor and weirdness on "B-Boys Makin' with the Freak Freak," and hold their own with the legendary rapper Q-Tip on the hard-bouncing "Root Down."

Spot Light: The Tibetan Freedom Concerts

Despite its classification as an angry youth movement and its punk/independent rock pedigree, the alternative music explosion of the early 1990s was strangely apolitical. The Beastie Boys attempted to correct this by raising awareness of political and social issues at their shows and through their Grand Royal magazine. Their most enduring political act came in 1996 with the massive Tibetan Freedom Concert benefit. Buddhism convert Adam "MCA" Yauch co-founded the Milarepa Fund, a charity devoted to supporting Tibetan liberation from Chinese rule, after witnessing the plight of Tibetan Buddhists firsthand while traveling in the country. The first festival, held in San Francisco on June 15 and 16, 1996, raised funds for the charity, and attracted the participation of wildly diverse acts like De La Soul, Pavement, Sonic Youth, and the Fugees. Concerts in Washington, D.C., and New York followed in subsequent years, culminating with a worldwide event that took place in Chicago, Amsterdam, Tokyo, and Sydney on June 12 and 13, 1999. The concerts raised millions of dollars for the Tibetan cause and treated hundreds of thousands of music fans to the best in forward-thinking pop, rock, and hip-hop. The fifth Freedom Concert never got off the ground, but the Milarepa Fund remained active, most notably organizing the New Yorkers against Violence benefit in the wake of the September 11, 2001 attacks. Yauch continues to work closely with the organization, helping to spread their nonviolence ethos throughout the world.


The Beastie Boys spent the next few years working on side projects and touring, including a headlining stint on the fourth Lollapalooza festival. They earned a reputation as a hard-working live unit, playing their instruments and commanding the stage like true professionals, effectively erasing the memory of their mid-1980s booze-fueled antics. They released a mini-album of hardcore tunes titled Aglio e Olio (1995), and a collection of their funk-jazz instrumental tracks, The In Sound from Way Out! (1996). They expanded the operation of their record label and magazine, both named Grand Royal. In addition, MCA dedicated himself to the plight of Tibetan Monks, and organized a yearly concert event, the Tibetan Freedom Concert, to raise money and awareness. Throughout their performances, the band spoke about international events and injustice, and encouraged their fans to get involved with causes ranging from Greenpeace to the anti-death penalty movement. The band attempted to bring issues to their audience in a nondidactic way, avoiding the earth-saving earnestness associated with the bands U2 and Rage Against the Machine. In this way, their messages did not obscure the music, and they effectively chipped away at the political apathy of their audience.

In 1998 the band released their fifth album, Hello Nasty. After a split with their longtime disc jockey Hurricane, the band hired Mixmaster Mike of the techno"turntablist" crew Invisibl Scratch Piklz to refine their sound. The result is an album steeped in the electronic grooves of the 1980s, effectively returning the group to the sounds that prompted their move into hip-hop. The songs reflect this new energy, with the Boys dropping their expert rhymes over supercharged rhythms. "Intergalactic" sets the tone; the Boys's complicated three-part flow coasts on a lock-step backing track. The album evokes video games, old school style, and the giddy thrill of hearing the simple yet futuristic beats of rap for the first time. "Body Movin' " is a classic Beasties rump shaker, and "Three MC's and One DJ" proclaims their ongoing mission to rock the party with class and style. Hello Nasty may not be as outwardly manic as earlier, but it shows the Beastie Boys aging gracefully, and keeping their forward-looking souls intact.

The Beastie Boys continue to perform with integrity and enthusiasm. Despite their seemingly condemnable beginning, they have revealed themselves to be genuine artists.

SELECTIVE DISCOGRAPHY:

Polly Wog Stew EP (Southern, 1982); Cooky Puss EP (Southern, 1983); Rock Hard EP (Def Jam, 1985); Licensed to Ill (Def Jam, 1986); Paul's Boutique (Capitol, 1989); Check Your Head (Grand Royal, 1992); Some Old Bullshit (Grand Royal, 1994); Ill Communication (Grand Royal, 1994); Aglio e Olio EP (Grand Royal, 1995); The In Sound from Way Out! (Grand Royal, 1996); Hello Nasty (Grand Royal, 1998); The Sounds of Science (Grand Royal, 1999).

WEBSITE:

www.beastieboys.com.

sean cameron

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"Beastie Boys." Baker's Biographical Dictionary of Popular Musicians Since 1990. . Encyclopedia.com. 21 Aug. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

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