I was pretty tough on the B-Boys in this strip, but remember; at the time, they were all alive, and The Mix-Up hadn’t come out yet. To The 5 Boroughs (2004) was the album I alluded to in the last panel, with its intrusive multimedia that used to crash my computer. My prediction about the immortality of the Enhanced CD was incorrect, because 11 years later, the computer is the only place anyone plays compact discs. What? Am I wrong? Where else, a game console? Do you even bother to bring CDs into your car anymore?
The Mix-Up was better than To The 5 Boroughs, and the Beasties’ final outing, Hot Sauce Committee Part Two, was even better than that. On my old website, I wrote about TT5B, and I noted the decreased energy in Adam “MCA” Yauch’s voice. I don’t know how these three guys kept it up for as long as they did. Once a friend put on Awesome; I Fuckin’ Shot That!, their 2006 audience-filmed video, and I became exhausted just seeing the Beastie Boys rapping and jumping up-and-down non-stop. This shouldn’t surprise you, but if you don’t know, they started out as a hardcore band.
Their second studio release, Paul’s Boutique (1989), is widely and rightly acknowledged as one of the greatest hip-hop albums of the genre. Even aside from the exquisite and inventive rapping, the samples and turntable work are masterful. This is partly due to producer duo The Dust Brothers (Mike Simpson and John King). They are also responsible for the score to the 1999 movie Fight Club, the opening credits of which were a harrowing religious experience when I saw it on acid.
(You probably won’t care, but the following clip doesn’t include the studio logo, which bothers me because it’s a few more seconds of mood establishment.)
The Dust Brothers also produced Hanson’s interminable “MMMBop”, but I try not to hold that against them.
The Beastie Boys were as skilled on musical instruments as they were as rappers, if not even more so. There aren’t really any bad Beastie Boys instrumental tracks. They range from great to masterpiece. “Futterman’s Rule”, from 1994’s Ill Communication, will easily impress any fan of Frank Zappa’s “Apostrophe”.
Speaking of Zappa, his son Dweezil composed the music for The Ben Stiller Show, which sounds almost exactly like the instrumental tracks from the Beasties’ 1992 album Check Your Head. The show’s theme song is even called “Groove Holmes”, which is track 15 of Check Your Head. Listen to the album, then watch The Ben Stiller Show. Pay close attention to the music playing in the interstitial segments. You’ll see what I mean. I don’t know what the deal is, precisely, but both Dweezil and the B-Boys claim credit.
I still have the Body Movin’ EP with the remix by Fatboy Slim, as depicted in the second panel. I don’t know why I had such a bug up my butt when I wrote the strip. I was kind of stressed out of my mind in 2007, for a number of reasons. Apparently taking compact discs out of their cases and playing them was enough of a source of frustration for me to squeeze a panel or two out of. Hello Nasty (1998) has my favorite Beasties instrumental, the utterly sublime “Song For Junior”. I swear to god you can put this song on rice and eat it.
The Beastie Boys are the reason I discovered giants of the organ like Richard “Groove” Holmes and Jimmy McGriff. They’re like a gateway drug into a much larger universe of musical vibrations. Don’t get me wrong; there are dozens and dozens of B-Boys songs I love for their voices too. But when these dudes clammed up and played, it was fucking kismet. Not for nothing is there an album available that (mostly) collects all these instrumental gems in one place (The In Sound From Way Out!, released in 1996). Hello Nasty also contains “Sneakin’ Out The Hospital”, and part of me wants to call it the stealth peak of the album.
From ’92 to ’96, the Boys were joined by Eric Bobo on drums. He and Mike D played spectacularly off one another. One of the best examples is “Bobo On The Corner”, from Ill Communication. It segues into the following track, “Root Down” (which heavily samples Jimmy Smith’s original, to fabulous effect), like an erect penis into a well-lubricated vagina, to use a hetero-friendly analogy. It’s a perfect pairing of songs, is what I’m trying to say, in an inappropriate and blunt fashion. After that it goes into a song that we’re all really sick of and I’m better off not mentioning. I don’t wish to ________ the article.
Ill Communication is the album that first really hooked me, when I worked in the record store. It started off with a sample that I immediately recognized from a commercial where a man proclaims that he taught his dog to say “I love you”. This was of course the lead up to “Sure Shot”, the opening blockbuster. Usually the Beastie Boys blew the doors off right at the starting line. “Jimmy James”, Check Your Head‘s opener, is transcendent; the turntabling is just fucking crazy stupid. It’s probably DJ Hurricane. That’s one of the top turntablists ever. Ever. (The intro of the following is sampled from Cheap Trick’s Live At Budokan.)
I had a copy of Check Your Head for years. Someone stole it. Make sure someone hasn’t stolen yours, if you have one. I’m not kidding; the appeal rating on this, its predecessor, and its successor is so astronomical, almost anyone would steal them if given the opportunity. I’d have an easier time divining who wouldn’t steal them. That’s how good this shit is. And we’re technically talking about rap albums from the early 1990s. Still fucking magic, decades on.
I sincerely think the best track on To The 5 Boroughs is “Crawlspace”. The flow of all three men is tricky in new ways, but still confident, even with a lower-key MCA.
Sincerely; what a Boy band.