Back when I was six years old, I was a B-boy… for a day. Actually, scratch that—for about 25 minutes. It was 1988, two years after the release of Licensed to Ill, the debut LP from rap/rock trio Beastie Boys (Michael “Mike D” Diamond, Adam “Ad-Rock” Horovitz and Adam “MCA” Yauch, and let’s not forget DJ Hurricane).
Don’t ask me why or how a six-year-old was listening, and loving, the Beasties—that’s a question better directed toward my parents.
Aside from cradling my Licensed to Ill cassette at all times, as if it was a sippy-cup, my fondest memory of those early Beastie-liking days derives from their hit single “Fight for Your Right,” the one with the video featuring the craziest house party my six-year-old eyes had ever seen (what can I say, the keggers on Sesame Street weren’t all that special). Much to my father’s chagrin, I recited the song’s chorus with the repetition of a dirty vinyl player, amidst the many replays of the video off the dubbed VHS copy my older brother recorded.
For whatever reason, my favorite Beastie Boy at the time was Mike D; my 25-minute-detour into the B-boy world came at his expense. Rather than dress as a werewolf (the obvious choice), I opted to spend Halloween of ’88 wearing a Mike-D-like black-top-hat-and-black-sunglasses outfit (as seen in the “Fight for Your Right” video), complete with a royal blue coat and black jeans. Well, it’s not accurate to say that I came up with the idea—blame that stroke of just-for-kicks genius on my older brother and one of my elder cousins. How do I recall this costume? My parents still have a picture of me in full Mike D get-up framed in their bedroom. If I’d been able to obtain it prior to writing this blog, I would’ve scanned the photo and posted it here (a little bit of masochism never hurt anybody, right?).
I bring this random childhood memory to your attention today to honor (in my own bizarre way) the Beastie Boys for making this year’s ballot of Rock and Roll Hall of Fame nominees. Kudos to LL Cool J for also making the cut, but this is all about the Beasties.
I won’t bore your eyes off with further salutations, though; instead, I’m here to gather my personal favorite Beastie tracks from their incredible 24-year career. If you ask me, the Boys aren’t praised enough within the inner rap circles; sure, folks acknowledge their legacy, but how many times have you heard their name mentioned within “best rap group ever” discussions? Not saying they’d get my vote (Wu-Tang, mofo’s), but they’d certainly be in the top five, maybe even the top three.
Now, on to the jams. —Matt Barone
“Looking Down the Barrel of a Gun” (Paul’s Boutique, 1989)
“Pass the Mic” (Check Your Head, 1992)
“So What’cha Want” (Check Your Head, 1992)
“Sure Shot” (Ill Communication, 1994)
“Root Down” (Ill Communication, 1994)
“Get It Together” feat. Q-Tip (Ill Communication, 1994)
“The Negotiation Limerick File” (Hello Nasty, 1998)
“Intergalactic” (Hello Nasty, 1998)
“Right Right Now Now” (To the 5 Boroughs, 2004)