Hip-Hop’s lost classic

If you can imagine, later this year will mark the 20th anniversary of the Beastie Boys’ Licensed to Ill, arguably the best rap album evar. Will there be a special edition of XXL with the making of the album and interviews with long lost weed (or in this case, angel dust) carriers? All signs point to probably not.

For being arguably the best rap album evar, the Beastie Boys’ Licensed to Ill has been largely written out of hip-hop discourse. You don’t always see it mentioned along with the likes of Public Enemy’s It Takes a Nation of Millions… and De La Soul’s Three Feet High and Rising in discussions of the best hip-hop albums of all time.

While modern albums by cracka-ass crackas like Bubba Sparxxx’ Deliverance and Eminem’s Marshall Mathers LP get props in hip-hop circles, Licensed to Ill still carries a certain stigma, even though it’s just as much a rap album as either of them. I wonder why that is.

It could be the case that hip-hop is a lot more diverse these days, but the legacy of the first Beastie Boys album is still tainted by people’s perceptions from way back when. Licensed to Ill is, to be sure, a real cracka-ish album. Black audiences at the time probably couldn’t relate to it as much as, say, Run-DMC’s Raising Hell and whatever else was out at the time.

That said, Deliverance and the Marshall Mathers LP are pretty cracka-ish as well. A case could even be made for both of those albums being “whiter” in terms of content than the Beastie Boys album, which is primarily concerned with drinking and degrading women – things any young brother could relate to.

Licensed to Ill does have its share of rock guitar (god forbid!), but probably not as much as you’d think. There are plenty of tracks on there that are straight 1986 hip-hop. You wouldn’t necessarily know it though from peeping the videos for “Fight for Your Right” and “No Sleep Till Brooklyn” on MTV though.

Which brings me to my next point: Licensed to Ill was marketed as a rock album that happened to feature rapping rather than a rap album with a couple of rock songs on it, which is what it is. This was obviously a stroke of genius though, to witness the album’s sales figures. Licensed to Ill was the first rap album to top Billboard’s Top 200 albums chart and still sells well to this day.

In fact, Licensed to Ill is one of the all-time top “catalog” albums evar, along with the likes of Bob Marley’s god-awful Legend, AC/DC’s Back in Black, and the Eagles’ Their Greatest Hits (1971-1975), the best-selling album evar. Word to Michael Jackson. I don’t know of another album in hip-hop that has a commercial history anything like it[1].

As such, it would seem silly to declare Licensed to Ill one of the most unfairly maligned albums in hip-hop, but I think I will. The hip-hop community should make a concerted effort to reclaim it from generations of Corona-drinking frat boys, who should only listen to Paul’s Boutique.

[1] An interesting story could be written on who actually gets the check from that album. I’d write it myself, but I don’t have that information. If I had to guess though, I’d say it’s Russell Simmons. “Got fat bass lines like Russell Simmons steals money.”

  • http://myspace.com/djjaycee jaycee

    first and yes, definitely one of the best hiphop albums of all time PERIOD!! i was a Decatur Ga resident when then this shit dropped and that’s all everybody bumped in the hood for months alongside other 808 flavored tunes. “no sleep” and “fight” kept it from being totally perfect though…

  • http://myspace.com/djjaycee jaycee

    *when then this*

    sorry for the grammatical error shawty…

  • http://www.honorablemedia.com/blog Honorable

    co-sign. good article.

  • the un-etherer

    I will actually co-sign dr. nullus this time. Licensed to Ill was the shit when it came out, everybody bumped that shit. C’mon, Paul Revere? Niggaz loved that shit. This album right here really brought the whiteboys into rap for real. It wasn’t no wiggerish shit neither, that’s what made it so real. This album, Raising Hell and Whodini’s Back in Black absolutely ruled at this time.

  • Tha Blueprint

    So he does like something… although i dont think you should be callin white ppl crackety ass crackers or whatever. This was the most positive thing this cat has ever written. keep it up
    peace-

  • Pingback: » Bol urges hip-hop fans to take back Liscenced To Ill from the Corona-drinking frat boys - XXL

  • can’t stop the prophet

    Back in ’86, Mr. Magic and Red Alert were bumping New Style, Hold It Now and Time to Get Ill before the album was released on the regular and heads didn’t even know they were white. I think those singles were as big on the streets as the Raising Hell singles were at the time. Of course, the frat crowd has completely hijacked the legacy of that album. It’s too late.

  • G Off

    Paul’s Boutique is the album you should have been talking about.

  • http://www.allhiphop.com Rey

    Before Transi calls me a “faggit ass nigga”..

    Didn’t Run-DMC write a couple of songs on here? I’m not trying to hate, I just recall hearing something to that effect. If that’s the case, it should at least have an asterisk by it.

    Granted, I’ve never heard this album save for the 2 “rock-ish” songs Boll Weevil mentioned, but I just thought I’d throw in my 2 pennies.

    UNO.

  • http://www.myspace.com/southpeezy Maurice G. Garland

    man, first i have to cosign with Bol, secondly i have to cosign with Jaycee…

    I was also in Decatur (not born but raised) and LTI was definately on blast…Glenwood Road, Arthur’s Court!!! This was definately the tape that got played in the back of class with headphones on…great post, I was just thinking about this exact topic the other day…tight work brah…I’ll trade the Frat boys 85% of the shit that has dropped since 2002 for LTI back…

  • tHe tRaNsIeNt

    u a faggit ass nigga bol

    this tha 3rd best Beastie Boy cd

    u trippin’ u prairie dog lookin’ faggit

  • http://rockthedub.blogspot.com khal

    good points… i think its just the fact that the beasties are white. they experimented with sound like whaaa, still do. that lil article they had in scratch about their production techniques over the years was ill.

    classic. paul revere is a gem. makes me wish rick rubin did more hiphop…

  • tHe tRaNsIeNt

    aint naan nigga give a fuck bout you life story maurice

    buy a diary u fuckin’ faggit

    u worse than rey or exo 4 bein’ an emotional faggit who love to read his own text

  • Gangsta on Webtv

    why
    do
    bo1
    1ook
    1ike
    $um
    $ort
    of
    de$ert
    dwe11in
    rodent
    ?

    u$eewhutim$ayin

    ha11a

  • http://www.allhiphop.com Rey

    The Transient = Oscar the Grouch of xxlmag.com

    Someone needs a hug…

  • tHe tRaNsIeNt

    Rey = James Van Der Beek of xxlmag.com

    u mad soft

  • http://www.allhiphop.com Rey

    lol.. James Vanderbeek? Holy shit, dude.. I must’ve really pissed you off.

    As for being soft, I prefer the term cuddly.

    You’re really Andy Milonakis, aren’t you?

  • tHe tRaNsIeNt

    shut teh fukk up u bitchmade pussy rey

    cooky puss a dope Beastie Boys song

  • http://www.allhiphop.com Rey

    lol..

    Hi Andy! I loved you in “Waiting”!

  • xathug

    fuck bol. bob marley is the greatest

  • BELIZE

    CO-SIGN THIS ARTICLE (EXCEPT FOR THE BOB MARLEY THING..OBVIOUSLY BOL DOESNT REGGAE SO STICK TO HIPHOP FASSIE HOLE!)
    BUT DOESNT THIS CONTRADICT ELLIOT’S POST FOR HIPHOP COVERS…SERIOUSLY IF HE DID A BEASTIE COVER ALL DEM WHITE BOYS WOULD BUY THAT SHIT…WORD TO JAMIE KENNEDY!!!

    BOL=Larry B. Scott…THAT FAGGOT NIGGA FROM REVENGE OF THE NERDS…MATTER OF FACT I AINT CALLIN U BOL NO MORE…IM CALLIN U LARRY!!!! HOMO THUG…GOOD POST THOUGH..NO HOMO!

  • BELIZE

    ***LARRY DOESNT KNOW REGGAE!!!

  • Enlightened

    NO NO NO Y’all are wrong. This has nothing to do with the stigma of being white (in my opinion). To me, The Beastie Boys were the most accepted white rappers ever, including Eminem (until they went back to Rock and Roll). For the people that were old enough to remember when it was out, NOBODY cared that they were white.
    And HELL NO IT IS NOT ARUGUABLY THE BEST RAP ALBUM EVER. I REPEAT – HELL NO IT IS NOT ARGUABLY THE BEST RAP ALBUM EVER. It is great though. Undeniably. It’s arguably in the top 20 maybe. When you say arguably the Greatest Rap Album of All time, you have to really be able to argue that it is better than the Chronic. Or whatever other album you feel may be the best CAN YOU REALLY ARGUE THAT? Once again – Great album, no doubt.
    But chalk that lack of an XXL cover and all kind of hoopla to the fact that it is old school – not because they are white. We haven’t seen any XXL commemorative Big Daddy Kane, EPMD, Eric B. & Rakim, BDP, MC Lyte, Run DMC covers either have we?

  • BELIZE

    L

  • BELIZE

    A

  • BELIZE

    DOUBLE R

  • BELIZE

    Y…HAAAAA

  • god

    i might let you get into heaven for this one

  • Devil

    Naw gay niggaz stay with me…so He’s MINE!

  • dj madwax

    these both made LOLz. by far I get more laughs reading this blog and its comments than anything else in my dreary days in Crackerado

    - the Beastie Boys album, which is primarily concerned with drinking and degrading women – things any young brother could relate to.

    - u trippin’ u prairie dog lookin’ faggit

  • dj madwax

    - But chalk that lack of an XXL cover and all kind of hoopla to the fact that it is old school – not because they are white. We haven’t seen any XXL commemorative Big Daddy Kane, EPMD, Eric B. & Rakim, BDP, MC Lyte, Run DMC covers either have we?

    thats because YN is a sell out greedy mother fucker

  • Boyd

    This article was sooo….zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

  • jimi

    RUN-DMC get alot of publishing checks off that joint, having ghost-written significant portions of it.

    When “Ill” came out, there was a real sense that were losing something. Mind you, Fred and Barney, Ronald McDonald and Abe Vigoda were basically either b reaking and/or rapping. When “Breakin’ II” came out, everyone knew it was a wrap: b-boying and rap music would never be the same. The Beasties were really the exclamation point on that, and then that’s when cats started to hear underground tapes from this group called CIA, featuring ICe Cube, Dr. Dre and Yella. This was probably the second time raps narrative started to change.

    But after the Beasties and the discovery that white kids would buy rap if properly packaged, rap music split in two directions: mainstream and underground. RUN-DMC and Kid N Play was commercial. NWA was underground.

    Record companies figured different angles to dilute it and make it non-threatening and universal by encouraging rappers to rap about dancing and partying ala’ the Old School joints and lean awy from politics or culture-centric narratives. The Beasties introduced three universal elements into popular rap: misogyny, gun violence and excessive references to drug use and drug sales. Back thgen, it was a novelty. Today, we call that “crack rap”.

    But get your head around that: the Beasties were the first rappers to pull a gun on someone, slap a woman, rob anybody or drink and/or do dope (without the context of a party: Bigv Bank Hank does coke and smokes weed on the full-length (15 minute) version of “Rapper’s Delight”) on wax. When other artists peeped that, they followed suit to get those record sales.

    Today, niggas are still studio cappin’ and the Beasties denounce all of it. They are Buddihist and shit.

    Deep.

  • http://www.allhiphop.com Rey

    “thats because YN is a sell out greedy mother fucker”–CO-SIGN!

    Jimi–Good shit on that comment.

  • P-Matik

    Licensed To Ill actually was well received in the black hip-hop circle from what I remember. A bunch of heads rocked it.

  • P-Matik

    YN – get on ya job homie. Stop takin side checks from Jimmy Iovine.

  • Ogeezy

    Of course you pick the whiteboys for best album. You hate the skin you in dont you.

  • twerkolator

    “Licensed to Ill does have its share of rock guitar (god forbid!), but probably not as much as you’d think. There are plenty of tracks on there that are straight 1986 hip-hop.”

    Run-DMC’s eponymous debut and second album (King of Rock) both had more rock guitar than License to Ill…no one ever infers that they’re anything other than “straight hip hop”…

    rock guitar ≠

  • twerkolator

    “Of course you pick the whiteboys for best album. You hate the skin you in dont you”

    who picks their favorite album based on race? he can’t think License To Ill is the best rap album without being a race-hater?

    dumbass

  • \sjios\deio\shnd

    bol why u bein racist to whites callin crackas u prik. No1 likes beastie boys go suk their dik u rock lovin prik.

    Eminem is much better then them . Just cause u couldnt get bj off him!

    Piece of shit from the toilet bol this is.

  • TIGERREDD

    Calling Bob Marley awful. Damn playa, just when I thought you had a pretty good thing going with this little article, you go and diss a legend and a revolutionery. You need help brother, damn that you ain’t no brother. You are good at giving your unrevelant opinion but I know you hate looking at your corny square ass in the mirror every morning. Playa hater to the fullest till the day you die. Some of these niggas are bitches too and some of them niggas look just like you (snoop dog murder was the case)!

  • http://xxlmag.com Bol

    >You are good at giving your unrevelant opinion but I know you hate looking at your corny square ass in the mirror every morning.

    It’s true. I avoid mirrors when I can. But not because of Bob Marley.

  • http://www.allhiphop.com Rey

    Um… “unrevelant”?? I can’t let that shit go, man..

    I-R-R-E-L-E-V-A-N-T.

  • Devil

    ^^^^revenge of the book worm

  • thoreauly77

    hey ogeezy, bol IS a whiteboy.

  • e

    What about the alkaholiks they need to be celebrated they’re the modern beastie boys

  • yoda

    surgically remove rey from bol’s dick, you must.

    word to the transient. i think he’s actually snuggles…

  • BELIZE

    ^^^UHHH..FUK NO!

  • raul

    the reason why it is not put on the same level of those albums is one when the album came out black audiences didn’t no how to take them, (much like eminem with the slim shady lp to those listeners unfamilar with his underground history)it took til paul boutique for listerners to come around and that album back then sold a lot less and was then considered a flop at the time. As time went on listeners accepted them.So Bol was actually right(about something finally) how they were marketed as a rock group. Two as good as a lot of their song were they were more known for their musicanship than thier lyrics. You never hear no one argue thier names for best MC’s. Run D.M.C. even wrote a lot of thier songs (Check the credits retards)And three as far as status and impact it is considered a classic. But is no way artistically on par with BDP on PE earlier work. You said it best all they were rapping about was rappping beer and women PE were way past that. This isn’t even thier best album check thier second one for that answer.

  • BELIZE

    LMAO ON “Gangsta on Webtv” (?) COMMENTS…

  • rip

    the beastie boys are legends

  • 5 STAR X-E-Q-SHUN

    BOL- what?!…what?!…what?! Get a fucking life dude.

  • i luv combat jack

    I went to a Junior high school in Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn. The other JHS in the area was Marine Park (the school portrayed on the Chris Rock show) so that means my school was white as hell! If it wasn’t for ‘License to Ill,’ there would not have been any “black” music at the prom. It was the only rap allowed at that time because of violence related to Run DMC’s ‘Raising Hell’ tour (which I listened to on the radio, either on WBLS or KISS.) Two years prior to that incident we rocked to ‘Roxanne,’ Sucker MC’s and ‘You be Illing’ at my elementary school graduation party on school grounds in the same white ass neighborhood.
    I still have the picture of a Puerto Rican named Eric Morales in the midst of a floor-rock move. I cut my first class to hang out at Brighten Beach and yelled “No Sleep till Brooklyn!” for no reason, scaring the russian immigrants.

    Beastie Boys made my punk-ass neighborhood cool and could be played along side ‘Paid in Full’

    Be that as it may, I’ve never heard about them shutting it down at the Latin Quarter which is the real reason they were never openly respected by the hood. Skateboarders in the hood (loved them) Drug runners (Not) Also most thought they were apart of a conspriracy to destroy rap.

  • Danja29

    ‘Licensed to Ill’ was probly the Beasties’ most black-accepted album. and i’ll also say, their best. and yep, their move from def jam to capitol (and also from rockish rap to rappish rock) changed how lots of their LTI-era fans thought of them.

    Without that Def Jam stamp and the Run-DMC cosign, the Beasties were excluded from the core hip-hop circle. And so with time, people have also grown to somewhat disregard LTI as one of maybe the the 10 best hip-hop albums ever. But yeah, it is.

  • i luv combat jack

    When “Breakin’ II” came out, everyone knew it was a wrap: b-boying and rap music would never be the same. The Beasties were really the exclamation point on that, and then that’s when cats started to hear underground tapes from this group called CIA, featuring ICe Cube, Dr. Dre and Yella. This was probably the second time raps narrative started to change.

    I LUV JIMI!

  • pop a poppa

    BOL says:

    In fact, Licensed to Ill is one of the all-time top “catalog” albums evar, along with the likes of Bob Marley’s god-awful Legend.

    what the fuck are you talkin’ bout bol?
    Bob Marley’s god-awful Legend?
    let me tell you just a couple songs on that album…
    “Is This Love”, “No Woman No Cry”, and “Could You Be Loved”…
    and thats just the first 3 songs on the album bitch!
    you’re opinions are totally useless…
    XXL might as well give a blog to INTERSCOPE JACKSON or H-MAN because their opinions make just as much sense as yours!
    you can’t be black…
    that photo of yours has been touched up hasn’t it?

    TWERKOLATOR Says:
    “You hate the skin you in don’t you”?

    damn right he does!
    fuckin’ bullshit ass blog bitch

  • no.props

    You gotta be kidding me.. the beastie boys have always been whack..

  • twerkolator

    ^^^^
    um…i didn’t say that. if you’re gonna attribute a quote homey, attribute it to the right person…

    and while i’m commenting, let me just say to all you ignorant fuckers, it doesn’t make you less black or a self-hater or any dumbass shit like that if you think legend, or bob marley, or both, suck…

    since when do you have to like bob marley (who was half white, i might add) to be black? i thought all it took was having black (brown if you want to be technical) skin…

    that’s what’s wrong with all you dickheads who are so caught up with that race shit. too busy wasting time trying to say who’s black and who isn’t…

    i swear. the ignorance on this site (and hip-hop in general) is off the meter…

  • eauhellzgnaw

    they seem to be affable characters, but they can’t rap to save their lives. never could.

    there’s a reason only lame white fratboys listen to licensed to ill. it’s one of the most overrated albums in rap history (see eminem)

  • Yalva Sanga

    Seeking Clarification:

    Bol, were you specifically calling Bob Marley’s “Legend” (compilation)album awful – as opposed to some of his original releases like “Natty Dread” or “Uprising”? And, if so, wouldn’t you agree that for a compilation, “Legend” actually is a Bob Marley in general but the “Legend” album specifically.

  • Yalva Sanga

    Because the way I read it, you weren’t hating on Bob Marley in general, but on the “Legend” compilation specifically.

    Either way, LTI is a great album (not in my personal top 10 though), especially for your ride!

  • Yalva Sanga

    Man, my baby woke up crying while trying to compose the above posts, and now that I’m back in front of the computer, I’m seeing that the end of my first comment above don’t make sense. It was to have read,

    “And if so, wouldn’t you agree that for a compilation, “Legend” actually is actually a pretty good collection of incredible songs?”

    Sorry about the confusion and the triple posts – I’m out!

  • roots671

    20 years! i was in 8th grade when that came out! it had the same blueprint as raising hell, but who cared? … by the way legend was not a bob marley album… per se.

  • WALLY DON CLARK CREW

    hater niggas marry hater bitches, and have hater kids, then they name them byron crawford

  • StandupAotearoa

    God awful legend???????????????????

    Is that the same god awful legend that propelled alot of the issues in that time to the forefront. Was that the god-awful legend that got two opposing politicians on the road to peace. Was that hne same god awful legend who is still revered to this day. wonder where the beastie boys will be when 20 years comes around….coffee coaster materual.

    Yeah drinking and degrading women is something to be applauded but actually having something to say on a conscious level and helping out your fellow man should be described as god awful.

    Wake Up. People like Bob Marley helped get you to where you are at today, now tell me WTF have the beastie boys done for yall

  • \sjios\deio\shnd

    bob marley is a legend, just cause u couldnt get a bj off him u hate him

  • \sjios\deio\shnd

    and that other gay prik who dont like marley can go fuk off to the rollin stone website prikkkkkkkkk

  • \sjios\deio\shnd

    more shit from the toilet bol

  • http://www.flint-rap.com/ dr. beezy

    Run-DMC Wrote “Paul Revere” and “Slow and Low” and some occasional lines here and there.

    If I remember correctly, and I am pretty sure I do, when The Beastie Boys sued Def Jam they got all their masters and publishing free and clear 100%. I think The BEastie Boys see profits from all reissues of LIT.

  • Big Jay

    I’m mike d and I get respect, your cash and your jewelery is what I expect….!!! niccas!!!!!!!!!!!

  • http://bsidewinsagain.blogspot.com SLurg

    Bol, you should read Stacy Gueraseva’s Def Jam Inc book (http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/034546804X/ref=pd_sim_b_2/104-6228842-3438337?%5Fencoding=UTF8&v=glance&n=283155) if you want to know more about the making of Licensed to Ill and how it was marketed.

  • The Transient

    man fuck it

    I’m a faggit ass nigga

  • Tha muhfuckin Rapture

    If this is not the album with “Ill Communication” on it, then nullus. I think.

  • Swell Emmanuel

    Correction Bol:

    Eagles – Greatest Hits – Best selling in the US.

    Michael Jackson’s – Thriller – Best selling in the WORLD.

  • Swell Emmanuel

    Correction Bol:

    Eagles – Greatest Hits – Best selling in the US.

    Michael Jackson’s – Thriller – Best selling in the WORLD. (no homo).

  • http://www.allhiphop.com Rey

    I refuse to insult anyone named Yoda.

  • http://xxlmag.com Bol

    >Eagles – Greatest Hits – Best selling in the US.

    Evar = in the US.

    Who cares about the rest of the world?

  • Fernando

    Bol you said “unrelevant”. Thats not a word you Oliver Miller/LV look-a-like. You also look like Kevin Duckworth’s son, Jerome Kersey’s fat younger brother, and any other fat relative of the 90-91 Trailblazers that are now out of shape and depressed. P.S – cassie is fine as hell, I dont know about the sexual orientation of some of these dudes on your blog. Hutch-lovers

  • http://UG-RS.com Tyler

    Beastie’s shit is fire. . Best ever? I don’t think so but yea’ it’s up there. And 4 the people ‘dat want 2 keep dissin’ the South or Southern Hip Hop in general all I can say is take our dicks outta ya’ mouth Lance Bass ass niggas. Peep the heat at: http://www.myspace.com/marcmaysrockandrollthug
    http://www.myspace.com/marcusorealiumusic

  • Face Phoenix

    Beastie Boys “Licence To Ill” One of the Best of All Time? Hellz Yeah! I never actually heard this album until I was working with one cat that was pumping “Rhymin’ & Stealin’” and after that I had to cop that album. Definitely a certifiable classic. Despite their eclectic sound over the years they are just as good as any Rap Crew Past or Present (including the equally talented yet “It’s Not Cool to Say Speakerboxxx/The Love Below licked balls compared to Southernplayalisticadillacmuzik” Outkast).

  • Yung Davito

    cracka-ass crackas? I’m sick of u fucking monkey-ass niggers sayin shit like that. FUCK U

  • \sjios\deio\shnd

    toilet bol shit

  • bol

    I’m complete shit

  • 11kap

    This guy is sniffin dust…….black fucker! How are you gonna give some white boys credit of being the best rap album ever? you fuckin’ dork. Who paid your silly lookin’ ass to say that dumb shit? Niggas are fuckin’ stupid as shit sometimes, and it’s not for being pro-black. It’s for saying bullshit like this guy. The beastie Boys are ill, but damn, they aren’t the best, you buffoon coon. Damn, nigga.

  • 11kap

    Man, I was listening to the Beastie Boys as soon as they came out, but damn, dem niggas aint number 1. Shit.

    GO BROOKLYN!!

  • http://www.urbanology101.com The Critic

    MORON.

  • http://xxlmag.com wigga_hata

    rap is 4 black folks only

  • Tha Refried Mexican

    rap is 4 brown folks only