“The whole history of B-Boy fashion comes from some kid who co-opts something that comes from something totally different. Like the kid who puts on his grandmother’s fur hat and wears it on the subway. But because he carries it off, the next week everyone goes out and buys one.” Mike D
A Grammy Award winning American hip hop trio originally from Brooklyn, New York City, Beastie Boys, now comprising of Michael “Mike D” Diamond on drums, Adam “MCA” Yauch on bass, and Adam “Ad-Rock” Horovitz on guitar, began as a hardcore punk band in 1979 and made transition to hip hop in 1984, following their experimental hip hop 12" “Cooky Puss” (1983), which enjoyed average local success. Since 1986, the group has released eight studio albums, four of which (“Licensed to Ill” (1986), “Ill Communication” (1994), “Hello Nasty” (1998) and “To the 5 Boroughs” (2004)) have topped the Billboard 200 chart. They have also released four compilation albums and twelve EPs. The Beastie Boys have sold well over 22 million albums in the US alone and 40 million albums worldwide. The group won their first two Grammy Awards in 1999 in the categories of Best Alternative Performance for the album “Hello Nasty” and Best Rap Performance by a Duo or Group for the single “Intergalactic.” They picked up their third Grammy Award for the instrumental album “The Mix-Up” in 2008. Beastie Boys' latest studio album, “Hot Sauce Committee Part Two,” was released in May 2011, and earned good reviews.
Childhood and Family:
It was MCA (born Adam Yauch, on August 5, 1965) who had the idea of starting a NY hard core band after watching Black Flag play their first NY show at Peppermint Lounge in 1981. He asked friends Mike D (born Michael Diamond, on November 20, 1966), John Berry and Kate Schellenbach, who were all in another band called The Young Aborigines, to join him, and Beastie Boys was born. The original lineup consisted of MCA on bass, Mike D on vocals, John Berry on guitar and Kate Schellenbach on drums. They played underground clubs around New York and release their first EP in 1982. Both Berry and Schellenbach had left the band by 1983. The group revamped with the addition of guitarist Ad-Rock (born Adam Horovitz, on October 31, 1967), who had formed the hardcore group the Young and the Useless, in 1982. The trio of MCA, Mike D and Ad-Rock remains together to present day.
The original lineup of Beastie Boys released a first EP, a hardcore punk titled “Polly Wog Stew” on November 20, 1982 on the independent label Rat Cage. The record, however, only received small notice. In 1983, the group reformed into a trio consisting of Mike D, MCA and Ad-Rock, and released their first hip hop recording, “Cookie Puss,” later that same year. The title track became a hit on the New York underground scenes. By 1984, the group had made transformation from hard core to hip hop. In 1985, Beastie Boys released another EP called “Hard Rock” (1985), which was produced by Rick Rubin and released on Def Jam Records. The same year, the band released their debut single, “She's on it,” which was released on the soundtrack to the 1985 film “Krush Groove.” The single failed to attract commercial success upon its release, but the re-release of the single later made into the Top 10 on the UK Singles Chart in 1987 as well as reached the Top 50 in two other European countries, Netherlands (#23) and Germany (#44).
Also in 1985, the band got their first national exposure when they opened for Madonna on her “North American The Virgin Tour” and John Lydon's post-Sex Pistols band Public Image Ltd. They also joined “Raising Hell tour” with Run DMC, Whodini, LL Cool J, and the Timex Social Club.
On November 15, 1986, Beastie Boys launched their first Hip Hop LP, “Licensed to Ill,” on Def Jam/Columbia Records. Produced by Rubin and Beastie Boys themselves, the album peaked at No. 2 on the Billboard Top Hip-Hop/R&B Albums and was on the top spot on the Billboard 200 from March 7, 1987 to April 24, 1987. It became the fastest selling debut record in the Columbia Records history, and has been certified 9x platinum by the RIAA. The album also reached No. 7 in the UK and went gold in the country. “Hold it, Now Hit it” (1986), the first single released from the album, reached No. 41 on the Billboard Hot Dance Music/Maxi-Singles Sales and No. 55 on the Billboard Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs. The followed up “The New Style” reached No. 22 on the Billboard Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs, No. 20 on the Billboard Hot Dance Music/Maxi-Singles Sales and No. 41 on the Billboard Hot Dance Club Play. The album produced three more American singles: “Paul Revere” (#34 Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Singles & Tracks), the crossover hit “(You Gotta) Fight for Your Right (To Party!),” which peaked at No. 7 on the Billboard Hot 100, and “Brass Monkey” (#48 Billboard Hot 100, #83 Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Singles & Tracks), as well as the UK hits “No Sleep till Brooklyn” (#14) and “Girls” (#34).
Despite the huge success of their debut album, Beastie Boys faced criticism from certain hip hop fans who believed that the band were simply cultural pirates. They were also being attacked from the right, who claimed the band's lyrics were violent and sexist. Throughout their 1987 tour, they were annoyed with arrests and lawsuits, and were accused of inciting crime. Following this, Beastie Boys decided to renew their image and sound during the next two years. In 1988, Beastie Boys became involved in a bitter lawsuit with Def Jam and Rick Rubin that eventually led to professional separation. The band then moved to Los Angeles, California and signed with Capitol Records.
The sophomore effort “Paul's Boutique” was released on July 25, 1989, and reached No. 14 and No. 24 on the Billboard 200 and the Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums, respectively. The album was initially considered as a commercial failure by Capitol because its sales failed to match that of the group's previous record, and the label decided to stop promotion of the album. However, the album's popularity continued to grow, and it has been boasted as a breakthrough achievement for the group. With “Paul's Boutique,” the group cemented their place as critical favorites in the hip hop genre. The album was certified double platinum by the RIAA in 1999. It featured the hit single “Hey Ladies” (1989), which peaked at No. 36 on the Billboard Hot 100, No.10 on the Billboard Hot Rap Tracks, No. 18 on the Billboard Modern Rock Tracks and No. 15 on the Billboard Hot Dance Club Play.
Released on April 21, 1992, the third studio album “Check Your Head” returned the band to the Top 10 of the Billboard 200 chart. The album was certified double platinum in both the US and Canada. “Check Your Head” spawned the hit single “So What'cha Want,” which peaked at No. 93 on the Billboard Hot 100, No. 22 on the Modern Rock Tracks, No. 18 on the Hot Rap Singles and No. 26 on the Hot Dance Music/Max-Singles Sales. “Check Your Head” was nominated for a 1992 Grammy for Best Rap Performance by a Duo or Group,
Also in 1992, Beasties Boys started a Los Angeles based vanity record label called “Grand Royal,” which they founded in alliance with Capitol Records. Because of increasing debts, the label later went out of business in 2001. The group also chose the name “Grand Royal” for their own magazine.
Beasties Boys released the fourth studio album “Ill Communication” on May 24, 1994 through Grand Royal. Produced by the group and Mario Caldato, Jr., the album rose to No. 1 on the Billboard 200, becoming their second album to do so, and also reached No. 2 on the Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums. It also had strong chart position in many other countries like the UK (#10), New Zealand (#6), Australia (#8), Sweden (#7), Austria (#10) and Germany (#11). The album produced four singles: “Sabotage” (#18 Modern Rock Tracks ), “Get It Together” (#5 Hot Dance Music/Maxi-Singles Sales), “Sure Shot” (#48 Hot Dance Music/Maxi-Singles Sales) and “Root Down” (#50 Billboard Hot 100). “Sabotage” earned a Grammy nomination for Best Hard Rock Performance. The song also received four MTV Video Music nominations in the categories of Viewer's Choice, Breakthrough Video, Best Group Video and Video of the Year. The group was nominated for a 1994 MTV Europe Music for Best Group. “Ill Communication” has been certified triple platinum by the RIAA.
On April 2, 1996, Beasties Boys released an instrumental compilation album, “The In Sound from Way Out!,” produced by Mario Caldato, Jr. It peaked at No. 45 on both the Billboard 200 and the UK Albums Chart. The group returned with the fifth studio album “Hello Nasty” on July 14, 1998 on Capitol. The album debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 and also topped the albums charts in the UK, Australia, Germany, Swiss and New Zealand. It nabbed two Grammy Awards in the categories of Best Alternative Music Album and Best Rap Performance by a Duo or Group for the song “Intergalactic.” Released as the first single of the album, “Intergalactic” reached No. 20 on the Billboard Hot 100, making it the band's third Top 40 single there, and No. 4 on the Billboard Modern Rock Tracks. It also peaked at No. 5 on the UK Singles Chart, in which it remains to be the group's biggest hit in the country. The song also won a 1999 MTV Video Music for Best Hip-Hop Video. Other singles released from the album were “Body Movin'” (#15 Modern Rock Tracks ), “The Negotiation Limerick File” (#29 Modern Rock Tracks ) and “Remote Control/Three Mics & One DJ” (#21 UK Singles Chart). “Hello Nasty” received triple platinum certification in both the US and Canada, and platinum in Australia. In 1999, the band released the compilation album “Beastie Boys Anthology: The Sounds of Science.” The single “Alive,” a No. 11 hit on the Billboard Modern Rock Tracks, was nominated for a 2001 Grammy for Best Rap Performance by a Duo or Group.
In 2000, the group had to cancel a tour with Rage Against the Machine and Busta Rhymes when drummer Mike D suffered a serious injury after a bicycle accident. The incident required surgery and extensive rehabilitation. Later that same year, under the name “Country Mike,” he recorded an album, “Country Mike's Greatest Hits,” and dedicated it to friends and family for that's year Christmas. Horovitz's side project BS 2000 released “Simply Mortified” in 2001. After the September 11 terrorist attacks in 2001, the group organized and headlined the New Yorkers Against Violence Concert in October 2001. “ In A World Gone Mad,” the band's protest song against the 2003 Iraq war, became the most downloaded track during April 2003. Later that same year, the band performed in the 19th and 20th Tibetan Freedom Concerts in Tokyo and Taipei and also headlined the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival.
On June 15, 2004, Beastie Boys returned with the sixth studio album “To the 5 Boroughs,” which was released through Interscope Records/Geffen Records. The album debuted No. 1 on the Billboard 200 with 360,000 copies sold in its first week. It also topped the Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums. The album was nominated for a 2005 Grammy for Best Rap Album, while the single “Ch-Check It Out” received a Grammy nomination for Best Rap Performance by a Duo or Group. “Ch-Check It Out” reached No. 1 the Billboard Modern Rock Tracks and the Canadian Singles Chart and No. 68 on the Billboard Hot 100. Two other singles from the album, “Triple Trouble” and “ An Open Letter to NYC” respectively reached No. 11 on the Billboard Modern Rock Tracks and No. 38 on the UK Singles Chart. “To the 5 Boroughs” was certified platinum by the RIAA.
In 2005, the band released a compilation album, “Solid Gold Hits.” A live album, “Awesome; I Fuckin' Shot That!” followed in July 2006. Their seventh studio album, “The Mix-Up,” was released on Capitol on June 26, 2007 and peaked at No. 15 on the Billboard 200. Consisting entirely of instrumental performances, the album won a 2008 Grammy for Best Pop Instrumental Album. The track “Off the Grid” earned a Grammy nomination for Best Pop Instrumental Performance.
In June 2009, Beastie Boys performed at Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival and appeared on the new single from the album called “Too Many Rappers,” featuring Nas. The single was nominated for a 2010 Grammy for Best Rap Performance by a Duo or Group.
Beastie Boys' eighth studio album, “Hot Sauce Committee Part Two,” was released on May 3, 2011 in the US on Capitol. The album received positive reviews from most music critics, and reached No. 2 on the Billboard 200, No.1 on the Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums and No. 9 on the UK Albums chart. The third single for the album. “Make Some Noise” won a 2011 MTV Music Video for Best Direction and also was nominated for Video of the Year Award.
MTV Video Music:Best Direction, “Make Some Noise” (MCA), 2011
Grammy: Best Pop Instrumental Album, “The Mix-Up,” 2008
Grammy: Best Rap Performance by a Duo or Group, “Intergalactic,” 1999
Grammy: Best Alternative Performance, “Hello Nasty,” 1999
MTV Video Music: Best Hip-Hop Video, “Intergalactic,” 1999
MTV Video Music: Video Vanguard Award, Beastie Boys, 1998
MTV Europe Music: Best Rap,Beastie Boys, 1998