My Beastie Boys Mixed Tape

Last Friday, May 4, Adam Yauch lost his three year battle with cancer. Many people have been hit hard by his passing since Adam is affectionately known as MCA and has been part of the group known as the Beastie Boys since starting the group along with Michael Diamond (Mike D) as a hardcore punk band back in 1979 when he was 15 years old. In 1982 Adam Horowitz (Ad-Rock) joined the band and from 1984-86 the group transitioned from punk to a rap group with three MCs.

I was 8 years old when “Licensed To Ill” was release on Def Jam records and didn’t know much about the Beastie Boys except that they had a reputation as reckless, rebellious partiers, a reputation mainly built, among 8 year olds, upon their video for Fight For Your Right where the group crashes a party of upstanding young people and turns it into an outlet for teenaged debauchery and rebellion... sex, drugs and rock & roll.

For kids like myself who got into trouble A LOT, the Beastie Boys held a certain mystique... getting in trouble looked like it could be a lot of fun, you could embrace being a trouble-maker. One lyric was absolutely brilliant in particular, “Your Mom busted in and said ‘WHAT’S THAT NOISE?’, “Ah, Mom you’re just jealous; it’s the BEASTIE BOYS.” In that one lyric the Beastie Boys created an association. Smoking, drinking, porno mags, teenaged rebellion in general was synonymous with listening to the Beastie Boys. While I now, look back and see the glamorized images of alcohol, negative view of women and general recklessness depicted in this early start through a whole new lens, little did we know that the rebellion of listening to the Beastie Boys as a kid would eventually become a great choice.

Bands grow, change and mature... well... the great ones anyway, and the Beastie Boys were no exception. Establishing themselves as ‘the band for rebellious youth’ was a great move, not just for them, but for their listeners. Here are the three top ways that I think the Beastie Boys ended up influencing me, not in a negative way, but for the absolute best.

  1. Have Fun

I just wrote a blog about being willing to have fun and dance. The Beastie Boys didn’t stop showing us how to have fun with “Fight For Your Right”. Just watch the videos for “Sabotage”, “Intergalactic” or “Alive”, which I will include below in my mixed tape. Every time I saw the Beastie Boys it felt like, “Wouldn’t you love to have fun with your friends like that?” C’mon, three grown men driving mini-bikes around in colour-coded jumpsuits... that’s hilarious. Alan Cross commented on what he loves about the Beastie Boys in his blog here and I share the sentiment that the Boys seemed genuinely to be best friends, having a blast together...

  1. Get a Positive Message Out There

The Beastie Boys message didn’t stay the same. In fact, if you bothered to listen past Licensed to Ill you would discover that the Beastie Boys put all kinds of positive messages in their music like standing against racism in Egg Man back in 1989 or making a very deliberate switch with their song Sure Shot where MCA raps, “I gotta say a little something that’s long overdue, this disrespect to women has got to be through, to all the sisters and the mothers and the wives and friends, I wanna offer my love and respect to the end.” The first time I heard that line, I was blown away! Far, far, far removed from the lyrics of songs like Girls, The Beastie Boys were taking a stand to apologize and go in a new direction.

In 1996 the Beastie Boys got involved in putting together Tibetan Freedom Concerts and standing against the oppression of China in this particular situation. MCA was the catalyst behind the Beastie Boys involvment and on the bootleg album MCA speaks to the crowd;

The Tibet issue stems to a lot of other issues like women’s rights and other human rights abuses and non-violence... if everyone focuses their attention at one time on the situation in Tibet that it could be changed. That can become a springboard to affect other issues around the world...

The song Alive came out in an anthology in 1999 and contained this line, “Homophobic ain’t alright, if you learn to love then you might love life.” WHAT?!?! A rap song taking a stand for treating the gay community with love back in 1999?!?! The greatest part is that the Beastie Boys had the best audience for these types of messages. All the same kids who thought it was cool to spike the punch and scope porn were getting older too and hearing their models of rebellion, choose a new type of rebellion, one where racism, sexism and homophobia had no place. The Beastie Boys made a transition to becoming True Rebels, and most would agree that MCA led the charge in that direction.

In 2003 the Beasties released the single, “In a World Gone Mad” which is a very direct anti-war protest song. For those of us who were still listening and still allowing ourselves to be influenced by the voices of the Beastie Boys, we had come a long way from 1986!

  1. Be excellent

The Beastie Boys legitimately changed music. Liscensed To Ill became the first rap album to hit #1 on the charts, the Beastie Boys charted in rap and rock and no one knows quite how to categorize their sound. For example in 1999 they won Grammys for both Best Rap Performance and Best Alternative Performance. They dared to experiment and do new things. Paul’s Boutique is considered one of the most underrated albums of all time. It is an album that could NEVER be made today because of the use of sampling back in 1989 (the album would cost a small fortune to make today). The Beastie Boys have seven albums that have gone platinum or better! In 2007 they released The Mix-Up an album that was entirely instrumental! Of course, in light of MCA’s death, many artists are pouring forward to pay tribute (like Coldplay in this really cool tribute on the day of Adam’s death) and share what the Beastie Boys meant to them and how they inspired them. To say the Beastie Boys changed music is not just a token saying after a significant death it is 100% true in this case.

Adam not only loved music, but art and film as well and was heavily involved in both including founding  and film production company called Oscilloscope Laboratories where he went by the moniker Nathaniel Hornblower. He loved the arts and got involved in ways that were both fun and excellent.

The True Rebel blog’s way of honouring the Beastie Boys and the memory of Adam Yauch is not to just ramble on about how awesome the Beastie Boys are but to present my own personal mixed tape of what I think represents the best of the Beastie Boys. It fits on an 80 minute blank CD (with a little editing) and is a good cross-section of all their history.

Side A

1. Jimmy James (Check Your Head – 1992) - “This next one is the first song on our new album” – I love the “Check Your Head” album and with that beginning, I can’t think of starting this mixed tape any other way.

2. Sabotage (Ill Communication – 1994)

3. Shake Your Rump (Paul’s Boutique – 1989)

4. Paul Revere (Licensed To Ill – 1986)

5. Don't Play No Game That I Can't Win (feat. Santigold) (Hot Sauce Committee Pt. II – 2011)

6. Body Movin' (Fatboy Slim remix) (Hello Nasty – 1998) - You have to include at least one remix on a B-boys tribute mixed tape! This version was released on Solid Gold Hits in 2005 although it was available online much earlier than that.

7. Ch-Check it Out (To The 5 Boroughs – 2004) - No album version on Youtube so you can watch this live performance on Letterman from the Subway to the streets to the studio.

8. So What'cha Want (Check Your Head – 1992)

9. Root Down (Ill Communication – 1994)

10. Alive (The Sounds of Science – 1999) - you can check out the fun video here with a remixed version of the song.

11. Three MC's and One DJ (Hello Nasty – 1998)

12. Egg Raid on Mojo (Polly Wog Stew – 1982) - Had to include at least one song from their early punk days

Side B

13. Fight for Your Right (Licensed To Ill – 1986) - It only makes sense to start Side B with this classic that kind of started it all.

14. Intergalactic (Hello Nasty – 1998)

15. Shadrach (Paul’s Boutique – 1989)

16. Gratitude (Check Your Head – 1992) - always good to remember that the Beastie Boys can play instruments!

17. Make Some Noise (Hot Sauce Committee Pt. II – 2011)

18. Electric Worm (The Mix-Up – 2007) - To not include one instrumental song would not be a good reflection of the Beastie Boys. Every concert I went to there was at least one long session of pure funky instrumental.

19. Sure Shot (Ill Communication – 1994)

20. Pass the Mic (Check Your Head – 1992)

21. Triple Trouble (To The 5 Boroughs – 2004)

22. In A World Gone Mad (2003 – download only)

23. Egg Man (Paul’s Boutique - 1989) -

24. No Sleep Till Brooklyn (Licensed to Ill – 1986)

Rest in peace Adam Yauch. The art and passion of MCA will live forever.

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