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It Started With A Mix

Beastie Boys: Selecting The Best For One Side Of A C90
Toby Cook , January 26th, 2009 12:03

In honour of the reissue of Paul's Boutique Toby Cook creates a C90 mix tape of Beasties tracks that ignores the organic funk, the hardcore punk and the singles in favour of hip hop jams

Beastie Boys

From: New York, NY
Genres: hip-hop, hardcore, trip hop, funk
Years Active: 1979 – Present
Key Members: Mike D, Ad-Rock, MCA (1979-present), Mix Master Mike (1997 – present), DJ Hurricane, Kate Schellenbach, John Berry (Departed at various points), Mario C, Rick Rubin, Country Mike, Money Mark
Associated acts: BS 2000, Mario C, Bad Brains, The Young and the Useless, Slayer, Thwig, Luscious Jackson, UNKLE, The Dust Brothers
Albums: Licence to Ill (1986), Paul’s Boutique (1989), Check Your Head (1992), Ill Communication (1994), Hello Nasty (1998), To The Five Boroughs (2004), The Mix-Up (2007)


1. 'Egg Man' (Paul’s Boutique, 1989)

Considered a commercial failure upon its release way back in ’89, with the beauty of hindsight Paul’s Boutique serves as a perfect example of sampledelia and ‘Egg Man’ is no exception. Sampling, amongst other things, Jaws, Psycho, Curtis Mayfield’s 'Super Fly’ and a bit of Public Enemy for good measure, it'd be hard for a band of the Beastie's size to be able to get away with this these days. Add that to the slightly ridiculous lyrics, and you’ve pretty much got the perfect Beasties tune.

2. 'Get it Together' (Ill Communication, 1994)

A slightly underrated gem from ‘94s Ill Communication the monotonous bass hum and harp loop are some what of a hip-hop cliché, but added to the nonchalant, almost lazy delivery of Q-Tip’s rhymes they serve to give the whole thing the feel of just being one extended lyrical jam session.

3. 'Hold it Now, Hit it' (Licence to Ill, 1986)

The soul inclusion from Licence to Ill and their debut single, ‘Hold it Now, Hit it’, is one of the more sample heavy and lyrically intensive from this period. It pilfers snippets from ‘Drop the Bomb’ and ‘Let’s Get Small’ by Trouble Funk, ‘The Return of Leroy’ by the Jimmy Castor Bunch as well as, oddly, Curtis Blow’s ‘Christmas Rappin’, Ad-Rock, MCA and Mike D sneer and spit over topics ranging from talking to girls, to the discerning gentleman's restaurant of choice, White Castle, and recreational drug use - a real sign of things to come.

4. 'Something’s Got To Give' (Check Your Head, 1992)

Check Your Head in 1992 saw a real departure in style from Paul’s Boutique , with the group picking up instruments for the first time since their hardcore punk days. ‘Something’s Got to Give’ is an anti-war protest song dealing with pacifism and Buddhism, though their new found enthusiasm for liberal causes didn't come at the expense of their loose, ganja infused groove.

5. 'Car Thief' (Paul’s Boutique, 1989)

Another sample-heavy offering from their best album - ‘Car Thief’ is surprisingly dark and violent in lyrical content, but the opening hook is a stroke of genius. It is arguably more gangsta rap than the usual up-beat silliness but the inclusion of a Funk Factory sample contrasts with this brilliantly. The not-so-subtle digs at Russell Simmons alone make this track worthy of inclusion.

6. 'B-Boys Makin’ With the Freak Freak' (Ill Communication, 1994)

Do you know what? This isn’t even that good a tune. But, I don't think I'd heard a hip-hop record that samples a sheep before and I can’t help but let out a guilty, childish snigger every time I hear: “Shit. If it’s gonna be that kinda party, I’m a stick my dick in the mashed potato!” – Classic.

7. 'Sneakin’ Out the Hospital' (Hello Nasty, 1998)

After a four year hiatus the Beastie Boys returned in 1998 with Hello Nasty, and despite it being an immensely popular LP it is nonetheless a slightly confused one. The addition of Mix Master Mike to the ranks certainly added a new dimension to their sound but Hello Nasty includes an acoustic track as well as a bizarre bossa nova tune, alongside some pretty average sample-led hip-hop. ‘Sneakin’ Out the Hospital’ though is a satisfying – and short – jazz funk number that wouldn’t have looked out of place on better LP’s like Ill Communication.

8. 'Looking Down the Barrel of a Gun' (Paul’s Boutique, 1989)

With heavily sampled guitar parts from ‘Mississippi Queen’, on first listen this appears to be a gangsta rap tinged plod. Actually though it’s more of a cathartic release of pent up frustration and emotion (“I'm mad at my desk and I'm writing all curse words. Expressing my aggressions through my schizophrenic verse words”). For a Beastie Boys number it’s deceptively heavy too.

9. 'In 3’s' (Check Your Head, 1992)

Two and a half minutes of white-boy-funk brilliance. If this doesn’t get you air drumming almost instantaneously then you probably recently had your medication upped.

10. 'Alive' (Sounds of Science, 1999)

A previously unreleased track from the Sounds of Science retrospective, ‘Alive’ in one way or another references everything in the group's career up to that point – Mike D’s country singing alter ego, Country Mike; MCA’s drug abstinence and conversion to Buddhism and even an apology for their part in contributing to the musical abortion that is nu-metal (“Created a monster with these rhymes I write. Goatee metal rap please say ‘goodnight’”). That said, for my money nothing short of turning up at Fred Durst’s house with several pieces of rubber tube and a chain saw would really do to make amends.

11. 'So What’Cha Want?' (Check Your Head, 1992)

This Hammond organ-led, Big Daddy Kane-sampling single is probably as close as any commercially successful hip-hop troupe have come to having a psychedelic freak out; and it's probably their finest moment as well. The post chorus guitar loop oozes down your ear canal, swirling inside your brain as the distorted vocals allude to the whole thing having been recorded inside an oil drum. Allegedly the track also contains a sample of ‘I’ve Been Watching You’ by Southside Movement, even though so far no one has been able to pick it out.

12. 'The Negotiation Limerick File' (Hello Nasty, 1998)

Simplicity is the key here - short, snappy verses, spat out over an incessant mandolin loop and a drum break that, once again, will have you reaching for the air sticks to your air drums. Barbara Lynn’s ‘Poor Old Trashman’ and ‘In-citement’ by the Pair Extraordinaire are generously sampled and the result is a tune almost devoid of pretense that does exactly what it sets out to. Ironically this makes it probably the most aurally pleasing tune on Hello Nasty, because let’s face it – the novelty of ‘Intergalactic’ wore off about nine years ago.

13. 'Sabotage' (Ill Communication, 1994)

Ah ha - Just when you thought I wouldn’t lower myself by including the Beasties standard/classic, here it is. An awesome tune, that has easily withstood over-playing with one of the best music videos ever – enough said.


1) Spank Rock – ‘Sweet Talk’
2) DJ Format – ‘We Know Something You Don’t Know’
3) De La Soul – ‘Buddy’
4) DJ Shadow – ‘Midnight in a Perfect World’
5) Jurassic 5 – ‘Lesson 6: The Lecture’
6) The Roots – ‘No Alibi’
7) Cypress Hill – ‘Dr Greenthumb’
8) Nas – ‘The World is Yours’
9) The Pharcyde – ‘Runnin’’
10) Haiku D’Etat – ‘Built to Last’
11) Cinematic Orchestra – ‘Channel 1 Suite' (Zero7 Remix)