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 Beastie Boys are eternal and essential.
Go BIG: Anthology: The Sounds of Science [42 tracks]
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