When hip-hop became mainstream in the mid-1980s, very seldom did a song incorporate original, live instrumental samples. When the Beastie Boys released their debut album, “License to Ill,” in 1986, they began to experiment with other genres. The Beastie Boys were made up of three MCs by the name of Michael “Mike D” Diamond, Adam “Ad-Rock” Horovitz and Adam “MCA” Yauch. Unlike most hip-hop groups of the time, all three played instruments. Before transitioning to hip-hop in 1984, the Beastie Boys were a punk band in New York City. They also toured with Madonna prior to the release of their first record.
“License to Ill” was arguably their strongest effort and made them instant legends in the hip-hop community. The album spawned seven hit singles, including what is quite possibly the most famous song the Beastie Boys ever recorded: “Fight for Your Right.” Backed by heavy metal guitar riffs, they rap about a typical high school student’s need to rebel against authoritative parents. Nearly 2 minutes into the single, the song is broken up by a guitar solo — a feature that was previously never present in hip-hop. The music video created for the song shows the group trashing a room at a party.
After the commercial success of “License to Ill,” the Beastie Boys got back in the studio to record the follow-up record, “Paul’s Boutique,” which was released in 1989. “Paul’s Boutique” is notorious for heavy usage of samples from other records to create the beats for the songs. Over 100 different songs were sampled in creating the album. Unlike their previous record, there wasn’t a smash hit single on “Paul’s Boutique,” but it still achieved highly positive response and eventually was certified double platinum.
The Beastie Boys subsequently had several hits off their next couple of records including “Sabotage” which was featured on Guitar Hero III and the first Rock Band video game. The group returned in 2004 after a hiatus following their 1998 record, “Hello Nasty,” to release “To The 5 Boroughs,” a reference to New York City’s five boroughs. The album was nominated for the Best Rap Album at the Grammy’s but lost out to Kanye West’s debut album, “The College Dropout.”
The most recent release of the Beastie Boys was 2011’s “Hot Sauce Committee Part 2.” The album’s third single, “Make Some Noise,” was met with critical acclaim and let everyone in the hip-hop community know that the Beastie Boys were still a force to be reckoned with. The music video for the single was a 30-minute short film that picks up right at the end of the video for “Fight for Your Right” and features many popular actors, including Will Ferrell and Jack Black.
The Beastie Boys made a total of eight studio albums in their 25-year career. Of these eight, six were certified platinum by the RIAA, including their debut record, which went platinum nine times. In 2012, they became the third hip-hop group to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
Unfortunately, a little less than a month later, the Beastie Boys suffered a terrible loss when Yauch passed away from cancer. The passing of MCA shook the hip-hop community. Fans all over — myself included — were shocked and saddened by the news. It is unknown whether or not the other two members will continue to make music.