music / Hall Of Fame

411 Music Hall Of Fame Class of 2010: Beastie Boys

February 26, 2010 | Posted by 411Mania Staff


  • First rap artist with a #1 album (Licensed To Ill)
  • Four #1 albums
  • Over 30 million records sold
  • Three Grammy awards
  • Named one of Rolling Stone’s 100 Greatest Artists of All Time
  • Paul’s Boutique is listed as one of Rolling Stone’s Top 200 Greatest Albums of All Time
  • “Sabotage” is listed as one of Rolling Stone’s 500 Greatest Songs of All Time
  • MTV Video Vanguard Award (1998)
  • Founded the Tibetan Freedom Concert
  • One of the most ambitious bands of their generation



Since the 1986 release of Licensed to Ill, the Beastie Boys have been a near-permanent fixture in both the rap and pop music worlds. But the Beastie Boys have always been much more than just rappers.

Starting out in 1979 as a punk rock band known as The Young Aborigines in New York City, the Beastie Boys crafted a solid, if somewhat typical, hardcore punk sound, playing CBGB’s shows with bands like Bad Brains and Reagan Youth. After recording the Pollwog Stew seven inch, the Beasties began to branch out into the rap sound that we now know them for with the single “Cooky Puss”, which was a relative success in the 1983 New York club scene.

After signing on with Def Jam and producer Rick Rubin, the Beasties changed their image from a punk band into the rap crew that we know them as today. After releasing a few 12″ singles, the Beastie Boys toured in support of well-known acts like Madonna and Run-D.M.C. In 1986, they burst into the mainstream with the now-classic Licensed to Ill. The record was the first rap album to hit #1 on the Billboard 200, and featured huge hits in songs like “Fight For Your Right” and “No Sleep Til Brooklyn.” Despite being a rap record, the album contains massive rock influences and is credited by many for starting the rap-rock phenomenon.

The group matured quickly with the 1988 release of Paul’s Boutique, considered by many to be the Beasties’ strongest work and one of the best hip-hop records of all time. The sample-heavy record was somewhat ahead of its time, eventually selling well over a million copies despite an initial lukewarm response. The single “Hey Ladies” was a hit, reaching #36 on the Billboard charts.
In 1992, the Beastie Boys released Check Your Head, an album featuring not only charting hip-hop songs like “So Whatcha Want” but also more rock-driven songs like “Time For Livin” and “Lighten Up.” The Beasties continued their tradition of records driven by sample-heavy production, resulting in a sound that was unique in the commercial rap landscape of the time. Check Your Head was released on the band’s own Grand Royal label, which would go on to release records by bands like Luscious Jackson and Bis.

Certainly already famous at this point, it was 1994’s Ill Communication that catapulted the Beastie Boys into superstardom. Debuting at #1 in the US, the album spawned massive hit singles in “Sabotage” and “Sure Shot,” earning the band heavy airtime both on radio and MTV. At the same time, the group organized the first Tibetan Freedom Concert, as well as released a jazz/funk record The In Sound From Way Out! and a retrospective of their punk days Some Old Bullshit.

The Beasties would debut at #1 again with 1997’s Hello Nasty. The record would go several times platinum, and won the group two Grammy Awards for Best Alternative Music Album and Best Rap Performance for the single “Intergalactic.” In 1998, after the release and huge success of Hello Nasty, the group won the Video Vanguard award at the MTV VMAs. 1999 saw the release of a two-disc best of compilation, The Sound of Science, also a major chart success.

In 2004, the Beastie Boys released To The 5 Boroughs, which reached #1 on the Billboard 200 – their fourth album to do so. The single, “Ch-Check It Out,” was a major worldwide commercial success. The band then released another instrumental album, The Mix-Up, in 2007. Despite a planned 2009 release, the band’s Hot Sauce Committee, Part 1 album was delayed indefinitely due to member MCA’s cancer diagnosis.

Now that MCA has been given a clean bill of health, he, Ad-Rock and Mike D (along with DJ Mix Master Mike) are planning to rock the charts again in 2010.

Why Beastie Boys Were Selected:

Well, where should I start? As unfortunate as it might be, it took a few white dudes from New York for the world to finally get OK with seeing hip-hop on their TV sets. The Beastie Boys were the first people to take rap music and truly run with it, and not only were they successful, but they were deserving of that success. Even the borderline frat-rap of Licensed to Ill is at least fun for what it is, and definitely a lot better than a lot of the similarly lowest common denominator rap out there today.

What’s really been the most amazing about the Beastie Boys, though, is their continued ability to evolve and mature. From snotty hardcore punkers, to misogynistic frat boys releasing tracks like “Fight For Your Right” and “Girls” to musicians able to put together sample-heavy soundscapes like “Looking Down The Barrel Of A Gun” and albums like The In Sound From Way Out!, the Beastie Boys have changed more than almost any other musical group in memory. And not only have they changed and matured, they have still stayed just as popular and just as talented as they ever were. Despite being old enough to be my parents, the boys from New York are still just as culturally relevant today as they were 20 years ago, and in the revolving door pop music world, that says it all.


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411Mania Staff
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