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Beastie Boys is an American hip hop group from New York Citymarker. The group comprises Michael "Mike D" Diamond, Adam "MCA" Yauch, and Adam "Ad-Rock" Horovitz. Since around the time of the Hello Nasty album, the DJ for the group has been Michael "Mix Master Mike" Schwartz, who was first featured in the song "Three MCs and One DJ".

Beastie Boys began as a hardcore punk group in 1979, and appeared on the compilation cassette New York Thrash with Riot Fight and Beastie. They switched to hip-hop with the release of their 12" single "Cooky Puss", which was followed by a string of successful 12" singles and their debut album Licensed to Ill (1986), which enjoyed international critical acclaim and commercial success. The group is well-known for its eclecticism, jocular and flippant attitude toward interviews and interviewers, obscure cultural references and kitschy lyrics, and for performing in outlandish matching suits.

They are one of the longest lived hip-hop acts worldwide and continue to enjoy commercial and critical success in 2009, more than 25 years after the release of their debut album. On September 27, 2007, they were nominated for induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. In 2009, the group released digitally remastered deluxe editions of their albums Paul's Boutique, Check Your Head', Ill Communication and Hello Nasty.


Early years: 1979–1983

Beastie Boys came together in 1979 as a punk band called The Young Aborigines. In 1981 Adam Yauch (MCA) joined the group, and from the suggestion of their guitarist John Berry, they changed the band's name to Beastie Boys. The name "Beastie" is sometimes thought originally to have stood for "Boys Entering Anarchistic States Towards Internal Excellence," and that the initials B.B. intended to mimic Washington D.C. hardcore punk band Bad Brains, but these were actually afterthoughts once the band's name was already Beastie Boys, according to Mike D and MCA. The band's original line-up consisted of Adam Yauch (MCA) on bass, Kate Schellenbach on drums, John Berry on guitar, and Michael Diamond (Mike D) on vocals. Their first gig was at Berry's house on Yauch's 17th birthday.

On Friday, November 13, 1982, The Beastie Boys played Bard College at Philip Pucci's birthday party. This marked the band's first on screen appearance in Philip Pucci's 1982 film, "Beastie". Pucci's wholly original concept for “Beastie” was to hand out a half dozen 16mm cameras to audience members and have them the Beastie Boys performance from their point of view while a master sync sound camera filmed from the balcony of the abandoned theatre where the performance took place. A one minute clip of "Beastie" was subsequently excerpted and licensed by The Beastie Boys for use in the "Egg Raid on Mojo" segment of the "Skills to Pay the Bills" long form video released by Capitol Records.

The band quickly earned support slots for Bad Brains, the Dead Kennedys, the Misfits and Reagan Youth at venues such as CBGBmarker and Max's Kansas Citymarker, playing at the latter venue on its closing night. That same year, the Beastie Boys recorded the 7" EP Pollywog Stew at 171A studios, an early recorded example of New York hardcore.

John Berry left the group (later forming Thwig, Big Fat Love, and the San Franciscomarker booze rock band Bourbon Deluxe) and was replaced by Adam Horovitz(Ad-rock)—who had previously played in the punk band, The Young and the Useless in 1983. The band also performed its first rap track, "Cooky Puss," based on a prank call by the group to Carvel Ice Cream. It became a hit in New York underground dance clubs upon its release.

Licensed to Ill: 1984–1987

It was during this period that Def Jam record producer Rick Rubin signed on and the Beastie Boys changed from a punk rock outfit to a three-man rap crew. The band released the 12" EP, Rock Hard, in 1984—the second record released by Def Jam that credited Rubin as producer. Soon after Rubin's arrival, Schellenbach developed creative differences with the band, citing her friction with Rubin. It was believed that Rubin objected to Schellenbach's place in the band as she did not fit the hip hop image to which the band aspired. Schellenbach went on to join Luscious Jackson in 1991.

In 1985, the band opened for John Lydon's post-Sex Pistols band Public Image Ltd. , as well as supporting Madonna on her North American The Virgin Tour. Later in the year, the group was on the Raising Hell tour with Run DMC, Whodini, LL Cool J, and the Timex Social Club. With their exposure on this tour, the track "Hold It Now, Hit It" made Billboard's national R&B and Dance charts. The track "She's on It" from the Krush Groove soundtrack continued in a rap/metal vein while a double A-side 12," "Paul Revere/The New Style," was released at the end of the year.

The band recorded Licensed to Ill in 1986 and released the album at the end of the year. It was a great success, and was favorably reviewed by Rolling Stone magazine with the now-famous headline, "Three Idiots Create a Masterpiece." Licensed to Ill became the best selling rap album of the 1980s and the first rap album to go #1 on the Billboard album chart, where it stayed for five weeks. It also reached #2 on the Urban album charts. It was Def Jam's' fastest selling debut record to date and sold over five million copies. The first single from the album, "Fight for Your Right," ( ) reached #7 on the Billboard Hot 100, and the video (directed by Ric Menello) became an MTV staple.

The band took the Licensed to Ill tour around the world the following year. It was a tour clouded in controversy featuring female members of the crowd dancing in cages and a giant motorized inflatable penis similar to one used by The Rolling Stones in the 1970s. The tour was troubled by lawsuits and arrests, with the band accused of provoking the crowd. This culminated in their notorious gig at the Royal Court Theatre, Liverpoolmarker, England on May 30, 1987 that erupted into a riot approximately 10 minutes after the Beasties hit the stage and the arrest of Adam Horovitz by Merseyside Police on assault charges.

After the success of Licensed to Ill, the Beasties parted ways with Def Jam and ended their relationship with Rick Rubin to sign with Capitol Recordsmarker.

A bootleg album entitled "Original Ill" features original demos of all the tracks from the final version of Licensed to Ill plus deleted tracks "I'm Down" (A Beatles Song) and "The Scenario" was released in 1998.

Paul's Boutique / Check Your Head: 1988–1992

The group matured with their second album, Paul's Boutique, produced by the Dust Brothers and Matt Dike. Recorded in 1988, this extremely sample-heavy opus is still considered one of the strongest works by the Beasties, and Rolling Stone ranked it #156 on its list of the 500 Greatest Albums of All Time. It is also considered a landmark in hip hop recordings due to its intricate use of multi-layering and large array of samples. The album was released in 1989 by Capitol Records, after the falling out between the Boys and Def Jam. It failed to match the sales of Licensed to Ill, reaching #14 on the Billboard 200 and #10 on the Billboard R&B charts. The lead single, "Hey Ladies", reached #36 on the Billboard 100 and #10 on the R&B charts. Rolling Stone would describe the album as "the Pet Sounds/The Dark Side of the Moon of hip hop." Paul's Boutique would eventually sell a million albums, despite the initially weak commercial reception. The band digitally remastered and released the album through their own website.

In 1988 The Beastie Boys also appeared in the Run-D.M.C film Tougher Than Leather.

The follow-up album, Check Your Head, was recorded in the band's own "G-Son" studio in Atwater Village, Californiamarker and released on its Grand Royal record label. The band was influenced to play instruments on this album by Dutch group Urban Dance Squad; with Mike D on drums, Yauch on bass, Horovitz on guitar and Mark Ramos Nishita ("Keyboard Money Mark") on keyboards. Mario Caldato Jr. ("Mario C") engineered the record and would become a longtime collaborator. Check Your Head was released in 1992 and went double platinum in the U.S., reaching a peak of #10 on the Billboard 200. The single "So What'cha Want" reached #93 on the Billboard 100 and made both the urban and modern rock charts while the album's first single "Pass the Mic" became a hit in dance clubs. The album also introduced a more experimental direction, with funk and jazz inspired songs including "Lighten Up" and "Something's Got To Give." The band used heavily distorted guitar riffs in place of samples on tracks such as "Stand Together," and "Gratitude." Hardcore punk even made its reappearance with "Time For Livin'."

Beastie Boys signed an eclectic roster of artists to the Grand Royal label including Luscious Jackson, Sean Lennon and promising Australian artist Ben Lee. Beastie Boys owned Grand Royal Records until 2001 when it was then sold for financial reasons. Grand Royal's first independent release was Luscious Jackson's album In Search of Manny in 1993. The Beastie Boys also published Grand Royal Magazine, with the first edition in 1993 featuring a cover story on Bruce Lee, artwork by George Clinton, and interviews with Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and A Tribe Called Quest MC Q-Tip. The 1995 issue of the magazine contained a memorable piece on the "mullet." The Oxford English Dictionary cites this as the first published use of the term, along with the lyrics from the Beasties' 1994 song "Mullet Head." The OED says that the term was "apparently coined, and certainly popularized, by U.S. hip-hop group the Beastie Boys." Grand Royal Magazine is also responsible for giving British band Sneaker Pimps their name.

Ill Communication: 1993–1996

Ill Communication, released in 1994, saw the Beastie Boys' return to the top of the charts when the album debuted at #1 on the Billboard Top 200 & peaked at #2 on the R&B/ hip hop album chart. The single "Sabotage" ( ) became a hit on the modern rock charts and the music video, directed by Spike Jonze, received extensive play on MTV. "Get It Together" reached Top 10 of the Billboard dance charts and also became an urban hit while "Sure Shot" was a dance hit. Some Old Bullshit, featuring the band's early independent material, made #50 on the Billboard independent charts.

Beastie Boys headlined at Lollapalooza—an American travelling music festival—in 1994, together with The Smashing Pumpkins. In addition, the band performed three concerts (in Los Angeles, New York City, and Washington D.C.marker) to raise money for the Milarepa Fund and dedicated the royalties from "Shambala" and "Bodhisattva Vow" from the Ill Communication album to the cause. The Milarepa Fund aims to raise awareness of Tibetan human rights issues and the exile of the Dalai Lama. In 1996, Yauch organized the Tibetan Freedom Concert, a two-day festival at Golden Gate Parkmarker in San Franciscomarker that attracted 100,000 people.

In 1995, the popularity of Beastie Boys was underlined when tickets for an arena tour went on sale in the U.S. and sold out within a few minutes. One dollar from each ticket sold went to local charities. The Beastie Boys toured South America and Southeast Asia for the first time. The band also released Aglio e Olio, a collection of eight songs lasting for just eleven minutes harking back to their punk roots, in 1995. The In Sound From Way Out!, a collection of previously released jazz/funk instrumentals, was released on Grand Royal in 1996 with the title and artwork a homage to an album by electronic pop music pioneers Perrey and Kingsley.

Hello Nasty: 1998–2001

Beastie Boys returned to New York City in 1997 to produce and record the album Hello Nasty. The album displayed a substantial shift in musical feel, with the addition of Mix Master Mike, who added to the Beasties' sound with his kinetic DJ style. Released July 14, 1998, Hello Nasty earned first week sales of 698,527 in the U.S. and went straight to #1 in the U.S., the UK, Germany, Australia, The Netherlands, New Zealand, and Sweden. The album achieved #2 rank in the charts in Canada and Japan, and reached Top Ten chart positions in Austria, Switzerland, Ireland, Belgium, Finland, France and Israel.

During 1998, rumors, seemingly generated by comments from the band, pointed to a possibility that they were to release a country album. Both Michael Diamond and Adam Yauch are credited with interview comments that piqued interest in whether or not an album would be released. Since they had long been notorious for pranking the media, it was difficult for anyone to take these comments seriously until tracks became available, most notably on The Sounds of Science anthology album. Adam Yauch published the following in the liner notes: "At some point after Ill Communication came out, Mike got hit in the head by a large foreign object and lost all of his memory. As it started coming back he believed he was a country singer named Country Mike. The psychologists told us that if we didn't play along with Mike's fantasy, he would be in grave danger. Finally he came back to his senses. These songs are just a few of many we made during that tragic period of time." How much is fact or fiction is difficult to determine, but when the album surfaced on eBay fans scrambled to get their hands on what had proven to be a rare album.

Beastie Boys won two Grammy Awards in 1999, receiving the Grammy Award for Best Alternative Music Album for Hello Nasty as well as the Grammy Award for Best Rap Performance "Intergalactic" This was the first and, as of 2008, only time that a band had won awards in both rap and alternative categories.

Also at the 1998 MTV Video Music Awards they won the highly coveted Video Vanguard Award for their contribution to music videos. The following year at the 1999 MTV Video Music Awards they also won the award for Best Hip Hop Video for their hit song "Intergalactic." Beastie Boys used both appearances at the Video Music Awards to make politically-charged speeches of considerable length to the sizable MTV audiences. At the 1998 ceremony, Yauch addressed the issue of Muslim people being stereotyped as terrorists and that most people of the Muslim faith are not terrorists. These comments were made in the wake of the U.S. Embassy bombings that had occurred in both Kenyamarker and Tanzania only a month earlier. At the 1999 ceremony in the wake of the horror stories that were coming out of Woodstock 99, Adam Horovitz addressed the need for bands and festivals to pay much more attention to the security detail at their concerts.

Beastie Boys started an arena tour in 1998. Through Ian C. Rogers, the band made live downloads of their performances available for their fans but were temporarily thwarted when Capitol Records removed them from its website. The Beastie Boys was one of the first bands who made mp3 downloads available on their website; they got a high level of response and public awareness as a result including a published article in The Wall Street Journal on the band's efforts.

The 1999 Tibetan Freedom Concerts featured shows in East Troy, Wisconsinmarker, Sydney, Tokyo, and Amsterdammarker. On September 28, 1999, Beastie Boys joined Elvis Costello to play "Radio Radio" on the 25th anniversary of Saturday Night Live.

Beastie Boys released The Sounds of Science, a two-CD anthology of their works in 1999. This album reached #19 on the Billboard 200, #18 in Canada, #6 on the Internet sales charts, and #14 on the R&B/Hip Hop charts. The one new song, the single "Alive", reached #11 on the Billboard's Modern Rock chart.

In the years following the release of Hello Nasty the group launched their official website which underwent several transformations eventually culminating in one of the most popular recording artist related websites on the internet.

In 2000, Beastie Boys had planned to co-headline the "Rhyme and Reason Tour" with Rage Against the Machine and Busta Rhymes, but the tour was canceled when drummer Mike D suffered a serious injury due to a bicycle accident. The official diagnosis was fifth-degree acromioclavicular joint dislocation; he needed surgery and extensive rehabilitation. By the time he recovered, Rage Against the Machine had disbanded.

Under the name "Country Mike," Mike D recorded an album, Country Mike's Greatest Hits, and gave it to friends and family for Christmas in 2000. Adam "Ad-Rock" Horovitz's side project BS 2000 released Simply Mortified in 2001.

In 2002, it was discovered that Mike D and Rick Rubin were reuniting to produce Mike's other side project, World of Hustle.

Hello Nasty was reissued on September 22, 2009.

To the 5 Boroughs: 2002–2006

The band increased its level of political activism after the September 11th terrorist attacks in 2001, organizing and headlining the New Yorkers Against Violence Concert in October 2001. Funds from the concert went towards the New York Women's Foundation Disaster Relief Fund and the New York Association for New Americans (NYANA).

In 2002, Beastie Boys started building a new studio facility, Oscilloscope, in downtown Manhattan, New Yorkmarker and started work on a new album. The band released a protest song, "In A World Gone Mad", against the 2003 Iraq war as a free download on several websites, including the Milarepa website, the MTV website,, and Win Without War. It became the most downloaded track during April 2003. The 19th and 20th Tibetan Freedom Concerts were held in Tokyo and Taipei, Beastie Boys' first Taiwan appearance. Beastie Boys also headlined the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festivalmarker.

Their single, "Ch-Check It Out," debuted on The O.C. in "The Vegas" episode from Season 1 which aired April 28, 2004.

To the 5 Boroughs was released worldwide on June 15, 2004. It was the first album the Beastie Boys produced themselves and reached #1 on the Billboard album charts, #2 in the UK and Australia, and #3 in Germany. The first single from the album, "Ch-Check It Out", reached #1 in Canada and the US Modern Rock Tracks, #2 on the world internet download charts, and #3 on a composite world modern rock chart.

The album was the cause of some controversy with allegations that it installed spyware when inserted into the CD drive of a computer. The band has denied this allegation, defending that there is no copy protection software on the albums sold in the U.S. and UK. While there is Macrovision CDS-200 copy protection software installed on European copies of the album, this is standard practice for all European releases on EMI/Capitol Records released in Europe, and it does not install spyware or any form of permanent software.

The band stated in mid-2006 that they were writing material for their next album and would be producing it themselves.

The Mix-Up: 2007–2008

Speaking to British music weekly NME (April 26, 2007), Diamond revealed that a new album was to be called The Mix-Up. Despite initial confusion regarding whether the album would have lyrics as opposed to being purely instrumental, the Mic-To-Mic blog reported that Capitol Recordsmarker had confirmed it would be strictly instrumental and erroneously reported a release date scheduled for July 10, 2007 Mic to Mic: Beastie Boys "The Mix-Up" due July 10 June 26 (The album was eventually released June 26, as originally reported). On May 1, 2007, this was further cemented by an e-mail sent to those on the Beastie Boys' mailing list - explicitly stating that the album would be all instrumental:

The band subsequently confirmed this in public, playing several tracks from the album at the 2007 Virgin Festival at Pimlico Race Coursemarker in Baltimoremarker, Marylandmarker.

To support the release, a string of live dates was announced that focused on festivals as opposed to a traditional tour, including the likes of Sónar (Spain), Roskildemarker (Denmark), Hurricanemarker/Southside (Germany), Bestival (Isle Of Wightmarker), Electric Picnic (Ireland) and Open'er Festivalmarker (Poland). Beastie Boys performed at the UK leg of Live Earth July 7, 2007 at Wembley Stadiummarker, London with Sabotage, So What'cha Want, Intergalactic, and Sure Shot.

They worked with Reverb, a non-profit environmental organization, on their 2007 summer tour.

Beastie Boys were featured on the cover of Beyond Race magazine for the publication's summer 2007 issue.

They won a Grammy for The Mix-Up in the "Best Pop Instrumental Album" category at the 50th Annual Grammy Awards in 2008.

Hot Sauce Committee: 2009–present

In February 2009, Yauch revealed their forthcoming new album has taken the band's sound in a "bizarre" new direction, saying "It's a combination of playing and sampling stuff as we're playing, and also sampling pretty obscure records." The tentative title for the record was Tadlock's Glasses, of which Yauch explained the inspiration behind the title:

"We had a bus driver years ago who used to drive Elvis' back up singers.
His name was Tadlock and Elvis gave him a pair of glasses which he was very proud of.
So for some reason that title - Tadlock's Glasses - has just been bouncing around."

The group would have toured the UK later in the year in support of the new record.

In June 2009 The Beastie Boys appeared at Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival and performed the new single off The Hot Sause Committee entited "Too Many Rappers" along side rapper Nas who appears on the track.

On May 25, it was announced during an interview on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon that the name of their new album would be "Hot Sauce Committee, Part 1" and was set for release on September 15 (with the tracklisting of the album announced through their mailing list on June 23).

Speaking to Drowned in Sound the Beastie Boys revealed that Part 2 is done. Mike D also hinted it may be released via unusual means:

On July 20, Yauch announced on the Beastie Boys' official YouTube channel and through the fan mailing list the cancellation of several tour dates and the postponement of the new album due to the discovery of a cancerous tumor in his parotid gland and a lymph node. The group also had to cancel their co-headlining gig at the Osheaga Festival in Montrealmarker.


Their fusion of hip hop and punk rock genres could be seen as a precursor to the rapcore and nu metal genres of the late 1990s which included bands such as Limp Bizkit, Korn & Kid Rock. However, in their 1999 single Alive (taken from The Sounds of Science) Ad Rock distances the group from this genre through the line; "Created a monster with these rhymes I write, goatee metal rap please say goodnight."

The band, along with co-producers The Dust Brothers were leaders in the use of sampling techniques, with Paul's Boutique being notable for its effective use of samples. The Dust Brothers in turn sampled "So What'cha Want" on the song "E-Pro" from Beck's 2005 Guero album.

Furthermore, although rarely credited, Beastie Boys were one of the first groups to identify themselves as "gangsters", and one of the first popular rap groups to talk about violence, drug and alcohol use, possibly an influence from their time as a hardcore punk group. According to Rolling Stone magazine, their 1986 album Licensed to Ill is filled with enough references to guns, drugs, and empty sex (including the pornographic deployment of a Wiffle-ball bat in "Paul Revere") to qualify as a gangsta-rap cornerstone." In their early underground days, the seminal gangsta rap group N.W.A rapped over Beastie Boys tracks for songs such as "My Posse" and "Ill-Legal," and Beastie Boys' influence can be seen significantly in all of N.W.A's early albums.

Their 1989 album Paul's Boutique included the similarly-themed tracks "Car Thief," "Looking Down the Barrel of a Gun" and "High Plains Drifter."

Beastie Boys have had four albums reach the top of the Billboard album charts (Licensed to Ill, Ill Communication, Hello Nasty and To The 5 Boroughs) since 1986. In the November 2004 issue, Rolling Stone Magazine named "Sabotage" the 475th song on their 500 Greatest Songs of All Time list.In their April 2005 Rolling Stone Magazine ranked them #77 on their list of the 100 Greatest Artists of All Time. On September 27, 2007, it was announced that Beastie Boys were one of the nine nominees for the 2008 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Inductions.

The Dust Brothers sampled "So What'cha Want" on the song "E-Pro" from Beck's 2005 Guero album. The rap group N.W.A rapped over Beastie Boys tracks for songs such as "My Posse" and "Ill-Legal". A controversial concert in Columbus, Georgiamarker in 1987 led to the passage of a lewdness ordinance in that city. Sal Governale, a comedian on the staff of the Howard Stern Show, indicated on air on July 25, 2007, that he was the president of the Beastie Boys fan club in the 1980s on the Prodigy computer network.

Two of their songs, "It's the New Style" and "Time to Get Ill", were sampled by The Prodigy in the The Dirtchamber Sessions Volume One in 1999.

Sampling lawsuit

In 2003, Beastie Boys were involved in the landmark sampling decision, Newton v. Diamond. In that case, a federal judge ruled that the band was not liable for sampling James Newton's "Choir" in their track, "Pass the Mic." The sample used is the six-second flute stab. In short, the Beasties cleared the sample but obtained only the rights to use the sound recording and not the composition rights to the song "Choir." In the decision, the judge found that "when viewed in relation to Newton's composition as a whole, the sampled portion is neither quantitatively nor qualitatively significant... Because Beastie Boys' use of the sound recording was authorized, the sole basis of Newton's infringement action is his remaining copyright interest in the 'Choir' composition. We hold today that Beastie Boys' use of a brief segment of that composition, consisting of three notes separated by a half-step over a background C note, is not sufficient to sustain a claim for copyright infringement."


Regular members (as of 2005)

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