Funky Monkeys: the Most Defining Albums of the Beastie Boys’ Career

Image Credit: Last.fm
There is so much I feel I’m obligated to say. Together with Rick Rubin, and along side great names like Run-DMC and Public Enemy, the Beastie boys played an extremely significant role in popularizing hip-hop music and culture. An interesting factoid considering they made their start as a punk band opening for the likes of the Dead Kennedys and Bad Brains. Which itself becomes exceedingly intriguing when you discover they would later tour with Madonna. Their resume goes on and on, and for good reason. So rather than recap the history, I’ve compiled this list of their 5 best albums. Check them out and you’ll see why their career was so successful and long-lived.

5 Check Your Head

Should I talk about this albums double-Platinum status? How about the three-year gap between productions after Paul’s Boutique? If your internet, pea brain, and time machine are functioning properly, I shouldn’t have to discuss “So What’Cha Want” or “Pass The Mic.” What’s most impressive here is the return of instrumentation. At a time when lines were clear and definitions were rigid, the Beastie Boys did what they wanted. Punk? Hip-hop? It didn’t matter; they were able to transcend social convention. The only thing that mattered to them was sincerity, integrity and the satisfaction of doing what they love. This album is “Finger Lickin’ Good” yall. “Namaste”!

4 Hello Nasty

Winning a Grammy for Best Alternative Music Album and another for Best Rap Performance for a Duo or Group on “Intergalactic,” Hello Nasty brought the Beastie Boys back into the spotlight after a long four years between productions. I have no better words for “Remote Control” than epic, and that pretty much sums up this entire album. Although it has its cool moments like “Song For The Man,” “Just A Test,” and “Putting Shame In Your Game,” the majority of the album is vigorous and pell-mell, rivaling the pace of “Three MC’s and One DJ.”

3 Paul’s Boutique

It took a little longer for this album to achieve commercial success, but it immediately solidified the group’s presence amongst the hip-hop community. “Shake Your Rump”, in all its up-tempo, funk-tastic, break beat glory, illustrates their intensity. “Egg Man” demonstrates their playful side, “Looking Down the Barrel of a Gun” is a bit more somber, and “Hey Ladies” provides the fun-loving debauchery we all adore. Obviously dynamic and eclectic, this album is a great example of top notch Beastie Boys. The epitome of this is “High Plains Drifter,” typical Beasties.

2 Ill Communications

This album was basically the soundtrack to my teen years, and I know I’m far from the only one able to claim this. Once again, they kick the doors wide open and immediately bust in ready to rock. The opener “Sure Shot” is boisterous and compelling, “Tough Guy” gives a nod to their punk rock roots, and “Root Down” blends their hardcore origins with a jazzy, soulful, hip-hop flavor. I’ve yet to meet anyone unfamiliar with the “Sabotage” video, and if you’re one, well… What the hell is wrong with you? You’re on the internet right now. Stop what you are doing and join the rest of civilization. While you’re at it, check out “Get It Together” featuring Q-Tip. Pure hip-hop!

1 Licensed to Ill

Fresh out of the box, the Beastie Boys come fully equipped and ready for action. “Rhymin & Stealin” is raw, hard hitting and in your face. Kerry King from Slayer makes an appearance on “No Sleep till Brooklyn”, predating crossovers of this magnitude by years and kicking more ass than Chuck Norris. “Brass Monkey” is a party anthem (and an intoxicating beverage) and “Slow and Low” delivers as promised, but surprisingly hard and grating. I shouldn’t have to waste space discussing “(You Gotta) Fight for Your Right (To Party!)” or “Girls,” if I do, stop reading, speak a word to no one, and go find a time machine. It’s the only way to salvage your respectability.

Now, I don’t know about you, but as far as I’m concerned the Beastie Boys essentially defined a generation; maybe a generation and a half, maybe even more. Let us know what you think. I know they certainly deserve praise, and I would undoubtedly like to take this opportunity to wish a peaceful rest to Adam Yauch, better known as MCA. Thanks!


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