Saturday, June 1, 2013

Hip Hop Nostalgia 101, Session 5: Beastie Boys - Licensed To Ill (1986)

LONG before Eminem would make a big impact on hip hop and the CRITICALLY PANNED/commercially successful Vanilla Ice made his "mark" along with a slew of others, the Beastie Boys, Ad-Rock, MCA, & Mike D, were breaking down doors and making history as the first white MCs to bless a mic, as well as being one of the first earlier acts on Def Jam Records. Their 1986 debut has always been viewed as a landmark album (much like several albums released in the 80s), so I'm more than happy to grant this session!


Release date- November 15, 1986





All songs were produced by Rick Rubin & the Beastie Boys


1. Rhymin & Stealin
This was quite the way to begin this album, as we head right into the hard rhyming over hip hop/rock inspired production. Although you probably can't tell what they're exactly talking about on a lyrical level, the energy is hard to ignore. Good start here.
Grade- A


2. The New Style
This was definitely a new style at the time, featuring the beat switching up (nicely) during the song, possibly for the first time ever I think. The Beasties flow SO well during the course of this song, and as you listen closely, you'll notice that most of this song was sampled in some form (notably by Redman, who sampled and reworked the ending into his very own "Beet Drop", from the "Doc's Da Name 2000" album), and the first beat was played a few times by DJ Kid Capri in an instrumental form during some episodes of Def Comedy Jam. Classic.
Grade- A+


3. She's Crafty
We did get quite a few "girl songs" in the 80s didn't we, lol. It's all good though, as the Beasties tell a little story about a certain type of "crafty girl". Fun to listen to.
Grade- A


4. Posse In Effect
The Beasties were in full effect on this one, and that's all you need to know!
Grade- B+

5. Slow Ride
I like this one right here, and I think we had another first, which was the incorporation of a Cuban rhythm with a hip hop twist. It's brief, but effective.
Grade- A

6. Girls
Look at the title of this song and tell me you DON'T know what the subject matter is, lol. Lyrically and production wise it's quite funny, so it's easy to get the joke, lol.    
Grade- B-

7. Fight For Your Right
On a song like this, I couldn't imagine any other beat but a rock influenced one, and the Beasties delivered in spades on this classic. Fighting for your right..... TO PARTY!!!!! Listening to this song will make you want to do just that!
Grade- A+

8. No Sleep Till Brooklyn
Almost a decade later, the late, great Notorious B.I.G. would always big up Brooklyn in some form, so you gotta give it up for the Beasties here! And I also remember this classic being played in one of Steven Seagal's best movies, "Out For Justice". Simply dope.
Grade- A+

9. Paul Revere
This often sampled, innovative for its time classic will ALWAYS remain timeless and in my view it's their best song. Put this in your ride, computer, portable CD player, or whatever, turn up the volume, and just nod away!!
Grade- A+

10. Hold It Now, Hit It
The FOURTH straight classic, and this is another often sampled song, possibly their second best if you ask me. If only this joint was a little bit longer. That's how GREAT it is.
Grade- A+

11. Brass Monkey
Just by looking at this title you would think this would be some type of dance, lol, but it's not, as it's a clever nod to an apparent drink, something I've never tasted to this day, lol!
Grade- B

12. Slow And Low
The "let it flow" portion of the hook would later be sampled by EPMD on "Let The Funk Flow" (an album I'll be covering when I get to the 1988 releases). The Beasties do slow up their flow a little bit, but not a lot, to good results.
Grade- A

13. Time To Get Ill    
I like how the beat switches here, along with the brief samples from the "Mr. Ed" show. This album certainly did have a number of firsts, and this song ends things on a great note.
Grade- A


Two immediate things I want to make clear as I close this session:

1) WELL before Eminem came on the scene, the Beastie Boys were the first white MCs to destroy the notion that white boys couldn't rap, plain and simple.

2) Anyone who says this album is dated or hasn't aged well, I respectively disagree with you.

This album holds up exceptionally well today and I had a fun time revisiting it again, not just for the purpose of this session, but because I'm a fan specifically.  It was the first hip hop album to top the Billboard charts, and has sold over 9 million copies. You can listen to this and tell that the Beasties were having the time of their lives while making this album, as well as displaying tight chemistry with each other, and with the legendary Rick Rubin behind the boards, his vision along with the history making contributions of Mike D, MCA (RIP), and Ad-Rock make this one landmark album that'll stand the test of time.          


Grade- A+

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