When I was in college, I wrote a paper on the significance of the Beastie Boys on the musical landscape, arguing that the trio revolutionized popular music as we knew it. I got an A/B on the paper, if I remember correctly, but one detail that is clear as crystal is the comment from my professor that read, “The Beastie Boys are a musical display of mind blowing idiocy.”
I can understand why an educator took issue with MCA, Mike D, and Ad-Rock. I don’t imagine them model students. In fact, I don’t imagine them students at all. Nothing about the Beastie Boys and their lyrics suggests that an education was very high on the list of must-haves.
In many ways, my prof was dead on – if you take the fellas at their lyrical word, the core of the Beastie Boys (at least in their formative years) was primarily Budweiser and pot. I know my parents were never fond of the dollars I dropped at Sam Goody on cassettes of Licensed to Ill, Paul’s Boutique, and Check Your Head (and later CDs of the rest of their collection).
But you know what? There are a lot of folks out there who don’t fall into the category of “bring ‘em home to meet mom and dad” who indisputably wear the label of revolutionary.
Their lyrics didn’t make you think outside the box, didn’t seek to right a social wrong…they’re pretty much nonsensical rhymes set to good beats that often weren’t even their own. They were brilliant samplers, even better entertainers, and in the end, their genius was in understanding precisely that. Never taking themselves too seriously, the Beastie Boys recognized the formula, and manipulated it to their end for three decades. Their longevity alone is a thing of legend.
I wore the “bleep” out of my Beastie Boys cassette tapes when I was younger. I’m sure I still have them, along with a Memorex 90 mix tape of all of my Beastie faves. From my bedroom to locker room to the dorm room and all modes of transportation in between, the Beastie Boys were, and remain, a cinder block in my musical foundation, and that of the entire hip-hop community.
Time to load-up the iPod Shuffle with all Beastie for this weekend’s yard work.