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The Beastie Boys Brought New Audiences to Hip Hop

The Beastie Boys started as a hard core rock band in 1981. They migrated to rap and hip hop and, in 1985, toured behind Madonna. The group released “Licensed to Ill” a year later.

The above video — “(You Gotta Fight) For Your Right (to Party!)” — was a huge hit from the album. It’s strange that what to some seemed frightening and vulgar in the 1980s now seems tame and even charmingly innocent. It’s almost like Run-DMC’s “Christmas in Hollis” meets a Three Stooges two-reeler. The other important observation is that the family certainly kept a lot of pies in the house.

In 2012, the group became the third hip hop band to be enshrined in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame (after Grand Master Flash and the Furious Five and Run-DMC). The profile at the Hall’s site does a nice job of highlighting the cross-over importance of the band:

The Beastie Boys combined hardcore and hip-hop in a fresh-sounding musical mashup that was danceable, infectious and wickedly funny. By attracting a sizable following of white fans – hardcore-loving teens and party-minded frat kids – with their bratty wit and cunning collages of beats and samples, they broadened the audience for hip-hop, bringing it into the mainstream. Like their fellow New York rappers Run-D.M.C., they ignored the color line dividing rock and rap in the Eighties.

The band was productive and very successful, with seven platinum albums between 1996 and 2004. Check out its discography at AllMusic.

The end came suddenly: One of the founding members, Adam Yauch, died of cancer in 2012. He only was 47 years old. In June, the two surviving members, Adam Horovitz and Michael Diamond, said that the Beastie Boys would release no new music. 

Here are ten signature Beastie Boy songs, at least in the opinion of The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. Below is “Make Some Noise,” which features a long list of celebrity cameos. Famed producer Bruce Dickinson would be proud that Will Ferrell brought his cowbell. It was just what the video needed.

Wikipedia and The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame  and AllMusic were referred in this post. The home page image is by JohnnyMrNinja.

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Here’s What’s Here

The Daily Music Break explores every genre of music, from hip hop to opera. It's simple: Boundaries are dumb. It's all good. Here is more about the site and here is our index:

--A Tribe Called Quest to The Dick Hyman Trio (In other words, A to H)

--Indigo Girls to Queen Ida (I to Q)

--Radiohead to ZZ Top (R to Z)

Reading Music

The stories of the great bands and musicians are fascinating. Musicians as a group are brilliant, but often troubled. The combination of creativity and drama makes for great reading.

Here are some books to check out.

Duke Ellington brought class, sophistication and style to jazz which, until that point, was proudly unpolished and raucous. His story is profound. The author, Terry Teachout, also wrote "Pops," the acclaimed bio of Louis Armstrong. Click here or on the image.


What else is there to say? Here is the story behind every song written by The Beatles. Click here or on the image.


The Grateful Dead don't get enough credit for the profound nature of its lyrics. Many of the band's songs are driven by a deep and literate Americana ("I'm Uncle Sam/That's who I am/Been hidin' out/In a rock and roll band" and "Majordomo Billy Bojangles/Sit down and have a drink with me/What's this about Alabama/Keeps comin' back to me?").

David Dodd's exhaustive study tells the story, song by song. Click here or on the image.