Beastie Boys review

Here’s a review by Jake Haselman from, of Dan LeRoy’s book about Paul’s Boutique:


Who would have thought that the creation of one of Hip-Hop’s masterpieces would be a drug fueled, party soaked, apartment recorded album that took the better part of a year to finish? Well, it was. And who would have thought that three white kids from Brooklyn would be the ones to drop it? But they were. While the Beasties were flying high off the success of their debut album, License to Ill, they were still on the outside looking in to the core of the Hip Hop elite. And while it’s not really tackled a whole lot in this book, I don’t really think the Beastie Boys had a whole lot of fans inside the Hip Hop world. I don’t think anyone took that first album seriously, I mean, it was an anthem to the MTV crowd.

But everything changed.

After the world tour for License to Ill ended, the Beasties were in shambles. Their fight with Russell Simmons and Def Jam were just about to start, the relationships within the band were strained… they were emotionally and physically exhausted. So looking for some R and R, and a fresh start, the B Boy’s packed up and headed out west to LA. While reenergizing and blowing off steam, the guys meet up with Matt Dike and the Dust Brothers (before they were even the Dust Brothers) and before you know it, all night meetings were taking place in Dike’s apartment.

The story of the actual construction of the album is amazing. With what would now be considered primitive means, these mad scientists were creating fantastically complex beats. Looping drum beats and guitar lines from all over the music world all with little more than a record player, a reel to reel, and their hands. It’s really quiet astounding to think that they didn’t even have a mixing board with automation, this really was done by hand.

Dan LeRoy paints a picture of three young men discovering their talent. He also sheds light on the lesser-known players in this momentous album. People like Matt Dike hardly get the praise when people start talking about the Beasties. But after reading this book, and knowing how the Beasties turned out (sound wise), I’d say that Dike and the Dust Brothers had more influence on these three than Rick Rubin.

Their excessive partying and delay after delay with the album stretched their relationship with Capitol to its breaking point. Once the album failed to do well upon release, the Boy’s were left to practically start over from square one. They couldn’t tour, places they had demolished on the first tour wouldn’t have them back. And the sluggish sales forced them to slink back into the club circuit. The world wasn’t ready for Paul’s Boutique.

But older and wiser, the rest of the world has come around to see what the critics were talking about. The Beastie Boys had shed their party boy, frat-house fan base. It wasn’t easy, and it wasn’t a painless process, but the initial failure of this album in the public was probably the best thing to happen to these guys. Real Hip Hop fans started to pay attention to them, and not just for their antics. Slowly but surly, people started to realize the powerful record that was created. People started to respect what these cats were up to. People started to become real fans. This is when everything changed, not just for The Beastie Boys, but for music as a whole.

LeRoy has crafted a short, fun read out of a highly overlooked period in this band’s life. From the late night brainstorming sessions to the egg tossing to the finished product, it’s all in here. This is a great book about an amazing record.

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