Beastie Boys "Jimmy James" (1992) from Check Your Head
In the two days since the shocking news of the sudden death on May 4th of Adam Yauch - aka MCA of the Beastie Boys - everyone has been sharing how much the artist and his group influenced their lives. On my WFMU radio show on Friday guest/longtime emcee Azeem recalled how when he first heard the Beasties he didn't even realize they they were not black and then recalled how in the early 90's during Lollapalooza he "went on tour a long time ago with the Beastie Boys, A Tribe Called Quest, George Clinton" and how he had a debate with members of fellow touring act The Pharcyde on the merits of the Beastie Boys as "hip-hop artists."
"At the time hip-hop still had its racial sensitivities and I had to argue on the Beastie Boys' side been from the East Coast, or been from New Jersey, hearing Licensed to Ill. When we [first] heard that record we didn't know if they were white kids. We just heard good hip-hop." recalled Azeem noting that the fact that the group never stopped creating and evolving & consistently making good music for well over a quarter of a decade is a testament to the greatness of the Beastie Boys.
Beastie Boys "Holy Snappers" (circa 1982)
After arriving in Australia from a long flight from the US for Public Enemy concert dates down under Chuck D was greeted by the sad news of Yauch's sudden passing at age 47 after a nearly three-year battle with cancer. "Adam and the [Beastie] Boys put us on our first tour," he recalled. "They were essential to our beginning, middle, and today. Adam was especially unbelievable in our support from then till now, even allowing me to induct them into the Rock N Roll Hall of Fame."
The Beastie Boys' long and musically varied career included such releases as their hugely popular Rick Rubin produced 1986 album Licensed to Ill, their sophomore release, 1989's Paul's Boutique which is widely considered their greatest work and one that 3 years ago got the nice Paul's Boutique 20th anniversary re-release treatment, 1992's Check Your Head, 1994's Ill Communication, the 1995 EP Root Down, the 1998 full-length Hello Nasty, the 2004 album To the 5 Boroughs, 2007's The Mix-Up (2007), and of course last year's excellent Hot Sauce Committee Part Two. There are a few Beastie Boys collections out there including the two CD + 78 page booklet collection of the Beasties Anthology: The Sounds Of Science which is a really excellent collection that covers a lot of ground and prove how every song by the Boys is a good song. Another great collection - and one that covers a lot of the early punk years (it's got "Cookie Puss" too) is the Grand Royal 2CD release Some Old Bullshit.
Beastie Boys on Japanese TV (1987)
In honor of the legacy of Adam Yauch and the Beastie Boys below and above are a series of six videos that (in my opinion) present a succinct but broad overview of the diverse career of the Beastie Boys going back as far as the early 80's when they were young NYC punk rockers ("Holy Snappers" circa '82). Included are the official music videos for "Jimmy Jones" from 1992's Check Your Head, "Sabotage" off 1994's Ill Communication, and the Grammy award winning song "Intergalactic" which was the first single from their fifth studio album Hello Nasty (1998).
Then there's their memorable 1990 Soul Train performance of "Shadrack" from the previous year's Paul's Boutique album and the even more memorable, truly wild Japanese TV appearance in 1987 that includes a crazy interview and "Fight For Your Right" live.
Beastie Boys doing song/single "Shadrack" from their highly acclaimed 1989 album
Paul's Boutique live on Soul Train (1990)
Beastie Boys "Intergelactic" (1998) both a pop hit and a b-boy favorite from Hello Nasty
Beastie Boys "Sabotage" from their fourth album Ill Communication (1994)