Musicheads Essential Artists: Beastie Boys

Beastie Boys
For their silly/savvy proclamations and unique approach to samples, the Beastie Boys are Musicheads Essential Artists (Courtesy of the artist / MPR graphic)

Each day during Minnesota Public Radio's Spring Member Drive, The Current will highlight a different artist who has made a significant contribution to the music world and a lasting impression on the music we listen to today. We call them Musicheads Essential Artists.

Who knew that a trio with a self-proclaimed knack for rhymin' and stealin' would make a lasting impression on pop culture? The Beastie Boys — Mike D (Michael Diamond), Ad-Rock (Adam Horovitz), and MCA (Adam Yauch) — started in New York City in 1981 as a hardcore punk band, but shifted gears after they recorded the hip-hoppy "Cooky Puss" in 1983. They soon hooked up with producer/Def Jam honcho Rick Rubin and dropped Licensed To Ill in 1986 — a delirious barrage of silly/savvy proclamations, bratty 'tude and brawny beats. They upped their game on Paul's Boutique, a collab with the Dust Brothers which is widely regarded as the zenith of the art of sampling. Rob Sheffield called it "a celebration of American junk culture that is still blowing minds today." The subtle-but-steady evolution of Beastie Boys-to-Men yielded more diverse pleasures: they blended their own backing tracks with always-intriguing sonic borrowings, broadened their stylistic reach, and always amused with off-kilter observations ("I'm intercontinental when I eat French toast.") Their run ended when Yauch died of cancer in 2012, but the Beastie Boys are eternal and Essential. – Lou Papineau, Minnesota Public Radio member

Fun fact: The Beasties were the opening act on Madonna's Virgin Tour in 1985. Ad-Rock said: "The audience's hatred for us worked in her favor. When she got onstage, they couldn't have been happier to see her."

Essential albums: Licensed To Ill, Paul's Boutique, Ill Communication, Hello Nasty

Essential tracks: "(You Gotta) Fight For Your Right (To Party)," "Brass Monkey," "Hey Ladies," "Sabotage," "Intergalactic"

The Current's Sean McPherson on Beastie Boys:

Musicheads Essential Artists


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