The Beastie Boys whose founder, Adam Yauch, passed away a fortnight ago, was the first all-white group to goose up hip-hop, which was a predominantly black and Latino style, while growing up in Brooklyn, New York. Billed as a cross between Eminem and Wu-Tang with some Sex Pistols elements, the group was regarded as “three crazy white kids doing the black man’s music”, writes WONDER GUCHU
This period must be one of the most difficult for the hardcore followers of hip-hop music after the death of Adam Yauch aka MCA, a member of the pioneering white group, the Beastie Boys, last week.
Yauch (47), who had branched into movie-making, died of cancer in New York.
Born in Brooklyn in 1964, Yauch trained himself to play the bass guitar and formed his first band when he turned 17.
This was the group that later morphed into the Beastie Boys.
Together with Adam Horovitz, Mike Diamond, Kate Schellenbach and John Berry they goosed up hip-hop from their Brooklyn neighbourhood thereby becoming the first ever all-white hip-hop group back in the 1980s.
The group’s album “Licensed to Ill” was the first rap album to peak at number one on the charts after selling 720 000 units within six weeks of its release.
Their songs like “Fight for Your Rights (To Party)” and “Brass Monkey” received very warm responses from the public and disc jockeys.
All in all, the Beastie Boys pawned off about 40 million units during the 20 years they have been rapping.
At the time of his death, Yauch had converted to Buddhism and once organised a Tibetan Freedom Concert calling for the independence of Tibet from China.
Bad Brains, a Washington DC-based hardcore group that played a fusion of punk and reggae, inspired the Beastie Boys.
In 1982, they released “Polly Wog Stew”, which was followed by their 1983 “Cookie Puss” release.
In 1985, they signed with Deff Jam Records and were featured in “Krush Groove”, a hip-hop movie in which they performed “She’s On It”.
They toured with Madonna and then travelled the world with Run-DMC during the Raisin’ Hell Tour in 1986.
A year later, after the success of their album “Fight for Your Rights”, they embarked on a tou,r which turned disastrous after they were accused of playing black music.
Apart from the accusation of goosing up the African song, the group was blamed for violence, vandalism, sexism, drugs and obscenity. But the group’s appearance in Run-DMC’s movie, “Tougher Than Leather” in 1988, cast them as a genuine hip-hop powerhouse who were deserving of respect from their counterparts and the public.
Money differences saw the Beastie Boys parting ways with Deff Jam Records soon after the release of that movie.
They relocated to Los Angeles where they signed up with the Dust Brothers and released “Paul’s Boutique” in 1989.
This album was described as the Beastie Boys’ “bourgeois take on rap into funk”.
Although it spawned a Top 40 hit in “Hey Ladies”, it was never a big seller, much like “Licensed to Ill”.
In 1992, they returned with “Check Your Head”, a fusion of funk and hardcore rap, which peaked in the Top 10 charts; and then followed this up with a compilation album, “Some Old Bulls**t” and then “Ill Communication” thereafter.
A hardcore punk album, “Aglio E Olio,” came in 1995 with “The in Sound From Way Out”, which carries soulful instrumentals, coming the following year.
But one of their best ever albums was yet to come in the form of “Hello Nasty” in 1998.
It had cutting-edge turntablism done by Mixmaster Mike, salsa, bossa nova, rock and hip hop elements. It peaked at number one on the charts.
Spurred by the success of this album, the group went on a tour; bagged two Grammies – Best Alternative Music Performance and Best Rap Performance by a Duo or a Group.
After 9/11, the band embarked on benefit concerts under the Milepa Foundation banner.
In addition, the group released, “In a World Gone Mad”, an anti-Iraq War protest song in 2003.The group’s last album, “The Mix-Up”, was released in 2007 and it sat at number 15 at its highest on the charts.
Despite not making it into the top ten, it scooped a Grammy Award for Best Pop Instrumental Album.