Hip-Hop History Tuesdays: The Beastie Boys' Paul's Boutique, 25 Years Later

Posted by Billyjam, April 1, 2014 09:25am | Post a Comment
beastie boys paul's boutiqueHard to believe that it is already a quarter of a century since the Beastie Boys' Paul's Boutique was initially released, and five years since the 2009 20th anniversary deluxe reissue of that landmark second Beastie Boys album. Paul's Boutique, while widely considered the group's greatest recording, was initially considered a (commercial) flop by its label, Capitol Records, back in '89 cut to its lackluster sales in comparison to its predecessor. In fact so disappointing to Capitol were sales that, following a huge initial hype / marketing campaign, they completely stopped promoting the album. Many rap fans, drawn to group by the hits on their Rick Rubin produced 1986 Def Jam debut mega-hit album Licensed To Ill, were disappointed too. But true hip-hop fans saw/heard the brilliance of Paul's Boutique that was a distinct departure from Licensed To Ill.

Instead of Rick Rubin handling production on this sophomore release, which demanded repeated listens to fully appreciate its depth and brilliant nuances, was produced in good part by the Dust Brothers and recorded in both Los Angeles and Brooklyn over an extended period of time to ensure it came out just right and to the liking of members Michael "Mike D" Diamond, Adam "Ad-Rock" Horovitz, and the late Adam "MCA" Yauch.  It did, and sure while it may not have been as commercially successful as Licensed To Ill (still a great album too) Paul's Boutique was a far greater quality recording and one that truly stands the test of time as proven by such tracks as "High Plains Drifter," "Looking Down The Barrel Of A Gun," "Car Thief," "Shadrach," and "Get On The Mic." No wonder then that over the years it grew in popularity (and sales),  is regularly included high up on music lists' best albums of all time, and was reissued on its 20th anniversary.
Re-released five years ago to celebrate the 20 year anniversary of its initial 1989 release, the 2009 reissue of the LP reissue version was on 180 gram vinyl, in a nice two-sided, four-panel gate-fold sleeve - that revised the very original expensive gatefold pressing of the album. The 2009 reissue also included a digital download card to access bonus audio band commentary on the album that was so close to the Beasties' hearts. For instance the track "59 Chrystie Street" was titled in reference to an early residence of the Beastie Boys, back earlier in the 80's when they were young punk rockers about to morph into full time hip-hoppers.

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A Tribute To MCA & The Beastie Boys

Posted by Billyjam, May 6, 2012 03:43pm | Post a Comment

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.  

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