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Music / Beastie Boys

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Listen alla y'all, it's sabotage!note 

Now here's a little story I've got to tell
About three bad brothers you know so well
It started way back in history
With Ad-Rock, MCA, (and me) Mike D.
— "Paul Revere"

Beastie Boys were a famous rap trio that was around from 1979 to 2014, enjoying critical and commercial success throughout their career, helping invent and popularize Rap Rock (alongside Run–D.M.C. and Urban Dance Squad), playing an important role in the popularization of hip-hop as a whole (partly by being white), being one of the few rap groups whose members play instruments, being one of the main influences on Alternative Rock before they even actively tried to court the genre's fans with their later work, and being the first white rap group to gain massive success.

Not too bad for three Jewish kids from New York City.

Initially formed as a hardcore punk band in 1979, the group changed its name to "Beastie Boys" in 1981. Its initial line-up had Michael "Mike D" Diamond on vocals, John Berry on guitar, Adam "MCA" Yauch on bass and Kate Schellenbach on drums. Supporting such famous bands as Bad Brains, Dead Kennedys, The Misfits and Reagan Youth, the band recorded its first hardcore EP, Pollywog Stew in 1982. Berry left in 1983, being replaced by Adam "Ad-Rock" Horovitz, and the group recorded its first rap song, "Cooky Puss". Gradually, they created their specific style, quickly switching between rapping, shouting and line-trading.

The now-rap-oriented Beastie Boys were signed to Def Jam in 1984. Schellenbach left, Rick Rubin took over as producer and the classic line-up of Mike D, MCA and Ad-Rock became permanent. A few singles followed, such as a contribution to the Krush Groove soundtrack named "She's on It", "Hold It Now, Hit It" and the double A-side "Paul Revere/The New Style", along with opening spots for Public Image Ltd., Madonna and a joint tour with Run–D.M.C., LL Cool J, Whodini and the Timex Social Club.

Burgeoning success or not, Beastie Boys were still undoubtedly a Token White among The '80s rap scene. However, they sidestepped any problem of credibility within the rap community by aiming their music directly at an audience of rock fans that probably didn't really care about rap. Their debut album, Licensed to Ill (1986), relied on a simple recipe of pounding beats, loud guitars, punk riffs, Led Zeppelin samples and hilariously over-the-top lyrics full of Bacchanalian excess, guns, drugs, alcohol abuse and tons of boasting about the Boys' prowess with the ladies and similar matters. Ill sailed straight to #1 on the US charts, becoming the first rap LP to do so, attracted predictable whining from people who didn't understand that it was all an elaborate joke, sold over 10 million copies and produced a massive hit single: the goofy Rap Rock song "(You Gotta) Fight for Your Right (to Party!)", a parody of "attitude songs" with guitars by Kerry King from Slayer, accompanied by a video depicting the Boys crashing a dorky party and making all hell break loose.

In the resulting tour, the Boys did all they could to live up to their self-imposed Memetic Badass status, trashing hotel rooms, attracting lawsuits and arrests (including a gig in Liverpool where Ad-Rock was arrested after only 10 minutes) and having a set that included female members of the audience dancing in cages and giant inflatable motorized penises. In the aftermath, the Beasties signed to Capitol Records and set to work with producer duo The Dust Brothers on their next album, which would be a change of pace towards more funky, sample-heavy material. The result was Paul's Boutique (1989), routinely considered their masterpiece of Sampling as art — nearly 105 songs were sampled, from sources as varied as The Beatles, hip-hop, funk and soul tracks, Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, Elvis Costello, Isaac Hayes, The Ramones, the Jaws theme, the "Shower Theme" from Psycho and others, with the result being 15 catchy, diverse tracks ranging from funky hip-hop to rap-rock ("Johnny Ryall", "Looking Down the Barrel of a Gun"). While not matching Ill's monumental commercial impact, it did sell well enough and drew critical acclaim where the band was previously dismissed. It's still considered one of the best hip-hop and alternative music albums ever made, and it arguably saved the Beasties from becoming the One-Hit Wonder that Licensed to Ill had suggested they would be.

One of the tracks on Boutique, "Looking Down the Barrel of a Gun", featured live instrumentation, with MCA on bass and Ad-Rock on guitar. Their follow-up album, Check Your Head (1992), saw the Boys pick up their instruments again (Mike D on drums, Ad-Rock on guitar, MCA on bass), accompanied by Mark "Money Mark" Ramos-Nishita on keyboards and longtime collaborator Mario "Mario C." Caldato Jr. as engineer and producer. This was another New Sound Album, seeing the Beasties engage in a fun Genre Mashup, putting together hip-hop with a ton of samples (including the one they're most proud of, one from "Just Like Tom Thumb's Blues" by Bob Dylan), jazz- and funk-inspired jamming, instrumentals and a punk rock cover of "Time for Livin'" by Sly and the Family Stone. Head also marks a crucial point in the band's evolution, being the moment where they left behind their earlier over-the-top Badassery: while they would still boast from now on, they would be more blatantly humorous and not discuss ingesting of every controlled substance known to man, sex, and wacky fratboy hijinks. They also found the time make their label Grand Royal Records an actual label (one of their first signed bands was Luscious Jackson, featuring their old bandmate Kate Schellenbach) and publish Grand Royal Magazine, credited with coining the term "mullet" and giving the Sneaker Pimps their name.

Evolution continued with Ill Communication (1994), which built on the musical smorgasbord of Head and managed to return the Boys to #1 on the charts. This was mostly achieved through another massive hit single, the furious, one-chord Rap Rock of "Sabotage", with a Spike Jonze-directed video parodying 1970s cop shows. The Beasties continued touring but became more involved with charity and political activism - MCA had converted to Buddhism in the meantime, organising the first Tibetan Freedom Concert in 1996 and including the Beasties' first overly political/spiritual tracks, "The Update", the instrumental "Shambala" and "Bodhisattva Vow".

Adding Michael "Mix Master Mike" Schwartz as DJ and returning to New York after nearly a decade in California, The Beasties churned out Hello Nasty (1998), which added an eighties electro-funk influence to the huge mix of genres from Head and Ill, and sneaking in some Brazilian, Latin, lounge and dub influences. This album's big hits were the Rachmaninoff-sampling "Intergalactic", "Body Movin'" and the minimalist "Three MCs and One DJ". The first two had their own requisite humorous videos, "Intergalactic" being a parody of kaiju films and "Body Movin'" parodying the film Danger: Diabolik, (famous as the last episode of Mystery Science Theater 3000). The Boys received the MTV Video Vanguard Award that year and "Intergalactic" won the VMA for Best Hip Hop Video in 1999. They used both appearances to make lengthy, political speeches about how Muslims aren't terrorists (for the former) and the debacle that was Woodstock '99 (the latter). They also took the time to appear in the Futurama episode "Hell Is Other Robots" in 1999. However, MCA was unavailable at the time of the recording, so he was voiced by Ad-Rock.

A long hiatus followed, filled by side-projects (Mike D's Country Mike project, Ad-Rock's BS 2000), a planned tour with Rage Against the Machine that was cancelled after Mike D was seriously injured in a biking accident and organising further Tibetan Freedom Concerts. Also, the group's label Grand Royal Records collapsed in 2001 due to mounting debt issues. Its non-Beastie Boys assets and back catalog were purchased by fans who started GR2 Records.

The first new song by the band appeared in 2003, the Protest Song "In a World Gone Mad". The all-rap, self-produced To the 5 Boroughs (2004) followed. While it again hit #1 on the US charts, the minimalist sound, heavy old-school hip-hop influence and explicit political slant to the lyrics divided the fanbase.

The Beasties then created their first all-instrumental album, The Mix-Up (2007), which continued mining the funk-, soul-, dub-, Latin- and jazz-influenced grooves that had been present on their albums since Head, with additional contributions by Money Mark and percussionist Alfredo Ortiz. The band toyed with the idea of releasing a remix album with vocals by other artists, but this was dropped. The album was supported with appearances at various festivals such as Roskilde, Bestival, Electric Picnic and Southside.

The group completed their new album, Hot Sauce Committee, Pt. 1, with a Pt. 2 due later formed of left-overs from the sessions. However, MCA had a cancerous tumour discovered in his throat and had to undergo surgery, causing the planned tour to be cancelled and the Hot Sauce Committee set delayed. Hot Sauce Committee, Pt. 1 has been postponed indefinitely, while Pt. 2 (with an almost-identical tracklist to Pt. 1) was released on May 3, 2011. Additionally, a pseudo-sequel to the "Fight For Your Right" music video (featuring the first single from Pt. 2, "Make Some Noise") was released the same day as the album.

Adam "MCA" Yauch passed away on May 4, 2012, following a three-year battle with cancer. The group officially disbanded two years later. Ad-Rock and Mike D have hinted that they might still work together in the future, but not under the "Beastie Boys" name.

In 2018, Mike & Ad-Rock released a coffee-table autobiography, Beastie Boys Book, chronicling their history and also serving as an extended tribute to MCA.


  • MCA (Adam Yauch) - gritty baritone vocals; bass (1981-2012)
  • Ad-Rock (Adam Horovitz) - boyish, yelping vocals; guitar (1982-2014)
  • Mike D (Michael Diamond) - nasal, muted vocals "somewhere in the middle" of MCA and Ad-Rock; drums (1979-2014)

Contributing musicians:

  • John Berry - guitar (1981-1982), left before the band became famous and was replaced by Horovitz.
  • Kate Schellenbach - drums (1981-1984), left because she didn't fit into the new Rap Rock format, later played drums with Grand Royal artists Luscious Jackson.
  • DJ Hurricane (Wendell Fite) - turntables, sampling (1986-1998)
  • Mix Master Mike (Michael Schwartz) - turntables, sampling (1998-2014)
  • Money Mark (Mark Ramos-Nishita) - keyboards, occasional vocals (1992-2014)
  • AWOL (Amery Smith) - "hardcore beats"note  (1994-1996, plus the BS 2000 project)
  • Eric Bobo - percussion (1994-1998)
  • Alfredo Ortiz - percussion (2007-2014)
  • Rick Rubin - producer (1986)
  • The Dust Brothers - producers (1989)
  • Mario C. (Mario Caldato Jr.) - producer, engineer (1989-1998)
  • Biz Markie (Marcel Hall) - made guest appearances on Check Your Head (singing to a Ted Nugent sample on "The Biz Vs. The Nuge"), Ill Communication, Hello Nasty (providing Studio Chatter Piss Take Rapping at the end of "Intergalactic") and The Sounds of Science, as well as on tour. Surprisingly given Biz's famous hit, he mostly sang on key.


  • 1982 - Pollywog Stew EP
  • 1983 - Cooky Puss EP
  • 1985 - Rock Hard EP (the band's first rap rock album)
  • 1986 - Licensed to Ill
  • 1989 - Paul's Boutique
  • 1992 - Check Your Head
  • 1994 - Ill Communication
  • 1994 - Some Old Bullshit (compilation comprising the Pollywog Stew and Cooky Puss EPs)
  • 1995 - Aglio e Olio EP (a hardcore punk EP)
  • 1995 - Root Down EP
  • 1996 - The In Sound from Way Out! (compilation of instrumentals from Check Your Head, Ill Communication and a few singles)
  • 1998 - Hello Nasty
  • 1999 - The Sounds of Science (anthology of greatest hits, B-sides and unreleased material)
  • 2004 - To the 5 Boroughs
  • 2007 - The Mix-Up
  • 2011 - Hot Sauce Committee, Pt. 2
  • TBA - Hot Sauce Committee, Pt. 1

Let me clear my tropes!!!

  • Acronym and Abbreviation Overload: One of the verses of "An Open Letter to New York" contains this
    Ad-Rock: The L.I.E., the B.Q.E., \ Hippies at the band shell with the LSD \ Get my BVD's from VIM \ You know I'm reppin' Manhattan the best I can
  • The Adjectival Superhero: "The King Ad-Rock."
  • Album Title Drop:
    • Paul's Boutique: The commercial snippet in "Ask For Janice".
    • Ill Communication: MCA mentions it near the end of "Sure Shot", and Q-Tip repeatedly states it in "Get It Together".
      "Like Ma Bell, I got the ill communication"
    • Hello Nasty: In "Putting Shame In Your Game". (There's also a reference to the cover art in "Body Movin'", where MCA raps about being "packed like sardines in a tin".)
  • Alternative Hip Hop
  • Alternative Rock
  • Ambiguous Time Period: "Paul Revere" is basically a Western that Beastie Boys happen to inhabit, 80s rap slang, wacky names, baseball hats and all.
  • Bad "Bad Acting": The beginning of the "Fight for Your Right" music video.
  • Bad to the Bone: "Sabotage" has been heard in every other movie since it came out, including not one, not two, but three Chris Pine movies: the 2009 Star Trek reboot, the third installment of the ensuing trilogy, and This Means War (2012).
  • Barbaric Bully: The Beasties' image during the Licensed to Ill era, heavily influenced by the Heel trope in Professional Wrestling (Rick Rubin, their producer at the time, was a huge WWE fan).
  • Big Applesauce: It is their hometown, after all, and gets lots of Shout Outs ("Ask for Janice", "B-Boy Bouillabaisse", "An Open Letter to NYC"). Even when the Beasties were hiding in California and perfecting their Genre-Busting sound during The '90s, they never let people forget which city they represented.
  • Biting-the-Hand Humor: Ad-Rock said that "Sabotage" is a tongue-in-cheek rant at their producer, Mario Caldato Jr, who insisted that Beastie Boys finish Ill Communication as quickly as possible, even at the expense of creativity.
  • Boastful Rap: Taken to hilarious extremes. "I got more hits than Sadaharu Oh!" anyone? How about "I got more action than my man John Woo / And I got mad hits like I was Rod Carew"?
  • Book Ends: Paul's Boutique slowly fades in with "To All The Girls"; then at the end of "B-Boy Bouillabaisse" that track is reprised and fades out.
    • Bookend-within-a-bookend: In "B-Boy Bouillabaisse", the second vignette "Get On The Mic" and the next-to-last vignette "Mike On The Mic" are two parts of the same recording.
  • Broken Record: "Body Movin'" (the Fatboy Slim remix)
    Body, body, body, body, body, body, body, body...
    • "Intergalactic" fits this, as well.
    Another dimension, another dimension, another dimension, another dimension...
  • Brooklyn Rage: MCA.
  • Car Hood Sliding: A shot of one of the characters performing a hood slide is featured in the music video to "Sabotage", as expected since the whole video is a 70s cop show parody.
  • Cerebus Syndrome: Paul's Boutique dropped the frat gimmick (but still included cartoonishly over-the-top violence), and Check Your Head dropped their trademark cartoony attitude altogether (without sacrificing the smartass humor).
    • To the 5 Boroughs, recorded in the wake of 9/11, has a political bent which its predecessors lacked and addresses the tragedy in songs such as "An Open Letter to NYC."
  • Character as Himself: The music video for "Sabotage" features Sir Stewart Wallace (played by MCA) guest-starring as himself.
  • Cluster F-Bomb: While they're not as bad as a lot of other rappers, several of their albums have been salty enough to earn the Parental Advisory warning (Ill Communication, for example).
  • Cover Version: A Hardcore Punk take on Sly and the Family Stone's "Time for Livin'" appears on Check Your Head, and earlier on the same album there's the jokey "The Biz vs. The Nuge", which samples Ted Nugent's "Home Bound" and has Biz Markie sing new lyrics.
  • Cowboy Episode: "Paul Revere" on Licensed to Ill. More obscurely, in 1999, a full-length LP called Country Mike's Greatest Hits, recorded as a Christmas present for friends and family.
  • Credits Gag: On Ill Communication, Biz Markie appears "courtesy of his own damn self".
  • Curse Cut Short: The final verse of "Brass Monkey," cut off by the chorus:
    We got the bottle, you got the cup,
    Come on everybody let's get fffffffff...
  • Early-Installment Weirdness: The early Hardcore Punk material, as compiled on Some Old Bullshit. Even "Cooky Puss", considered their first hip-hop song, is pretty different from anything they did before or since - the music is definitely hip-hop influenced, but there's no actual rapping; other than samples of some of their earlier songs, the group's voices are only heard in a series of crank calls to Carvel ice cream stores used as Spoken Word in Music.
  • Egging: An obsession of the band during the '80s which led to the tracks "Egg Raid on Mojo" and "Egg Man."
  • Epic Rapping: "B-Boy Bouillabaisse".
  • Everything Is an Instrument: Keyboardist/carpenter Money Mark plays the screw gun on "Stand Together".
  • External Combustion: A car explodes on ignition in the video to "Sabotage".
  • Fake-Out Opening: "Awesome; I Fuckin' Shot That!" begins by duplicating the opening crawl from the 1983 gangster classic Scarface:
    In May 1980, Fidel Castro opened the harbor at Mariel, Cuba with the apparent intention of letting some of his people join their relatives in the United States. Within seventy-two hours, 3,000 U.S. boats were headed for Cuba. It soon became evident that Castro was forcing the boat owners to carry back with them not only their relatives, but the dregs of his jails. Of the 125,000 refugees that landed in Florida an estimated 25,000 had criminal records.
    Regardless, on October 9, 2004, the Beastie Boys handed out 50 Hi 8 cameras to gung-ho audience members. Although none of these camera operators were trained, they captured the show with love and passion.
  • Fight Fur Your Right to Party: Trope Namer; the trope name is a pun on "Fight for Your Right".
  • Freeze-Frame Introduction: The badass cops in the music video for Sabotage are introduced with a still frame and their character names.
  • Fun with Acronyms: They claimed in an interview that "Beastie" actually stood for Boys Entering Anarchic States Towards Internal Excellence.
  • Genre-Busting + Genre Roulette: Hell, they became famous through a Genre Shift in the first place.
  • Grief Song: "Instant Death" about Adrock's mother's passing away.
    • Arguably "An Open Letter to NYC" as well, as the lyrics involve New York City recovering and staying strong after the 9/11 attacks.
  • Hardcore Punk: Their early work before signing to Def Jam records and producing Licensed To Ill. Occasionally return to this sound in some of their songs, particularly on Check Your Head and Ill Communication.
  • Hip-Hop
  • Image Song: "Rhymin' and Stealin" could qualify, being a sarcastic commentary of their embrace of hip-hop.
  • Infomercial: They created a faux infomercial to promote Hello Nasty.
  • Indecipherable Lyrics: The "Bouillabaisse" vignette "A Year And A Day". The only lyrics that are on the Paul's Boutique liner notes are "He goes by the name of Disco Dave" ...and that's at the end.
    • Many of the vocals on Check Your Head and Ill Communication are distorted beyond all recognition. note 
  • Lampshaded Double Entendre: From "Paul Revere":
    Ad-Rock: I said "I'll ride with you if you can get me to the border / The sheriff's after me for what I did to his daughter / I did it like this, I did it like that / I did it with a Wiffleball bat."
  • Longest Song Goes Last:
    • Paul's Boutique closes with "B-Boy Bouillabaisse" (12:33).
  • Long-Runner Line-up:
    • MCA, Ad-Rock, and Mike D from 1982 to 2012—three decades, making this one of the longest-running lineups in all of rap.
    • Mix Master Mike was their DJ from 1998 to 2014 (16 years).
  • Lyrical Dissonance: "Car Thief", from Paul's Boutique is based chiefly on a mellow, slightly psychedelic sample from the funk song "Rien Ne Va Plus" by Funk Factory. The first verse begins by describing smashing somebody's face with a cue ball, moving on to general destruction, and then extensive discussions on what substances the Beasties enjoy smoking.
    • Despite its upbeat melody and admittedly silly lyrical content, "Girls" is for the most part a song about Ad-Rock's lack of success with a girl he may not really be over ("that was two years ago this May").
  • Metal Scream: "WWWHHHHHHYYYYYYY!!!" from "Sabotage". In fact, most of that song is screamed, yelled or shouted.
  • Mid-Vid Skit: "Triple Trouble" opens with a Talky Bookend where the group insults Sasquatch, whom had held them captive for a year. Sasquatch, enraged, looks up their location on Google Maps and runs to their location. After the first two verses, there's a skit wherein Sasquatch attacks and reabducts the band.
  • Monkey Morality Pose: Sneakily referenced on the cover of Check Your Head. Ad-Rock is wearing sunglasses, MCA is covering his mouth, and Mike D is wearing a woolen cap.
  • Nerdcore: Not exactly, but they've referenced Star Trek, amongst other Sci-Fi films, in their raps. The reboot films returned the favor, with "Sabotage" featured prominently in Star Trek (2009) and Star Trek Into Darkness briefly featuring the Fatboy Slim remix of "Body Movin'". And then "Sabotage" returned in Star Trek Beyond as part of a plot point.
  • Never Trust a Title: "Paul Revere" does not concern the historical figure, nor his historic ride. It's the name of Ad-Rock's horse, who disappears after he's introduced.
  • New Sound Album: Just about all of their albums, really. But Paul’s Boutique, Check Your Head and Hello Nasty are the most obvious examples.
  • Not Hyperbole: "The Sounds Of Science". They start with "Now here we go droppin' science" and then proceed to rap about actual scientists and scientific stuff.
  • Note from Ed.: Peppered throughout the lyric sheet in To the 5 Boroughs.
  • N-Word Privileges: "Like John Holmes, the X-rated nigga". To be fair, it's rapped by Q-Tip.
  • Ode to Intoxication: "Car Thief" and numerous other songs elaborate on their love of drugs.
  • One-Steve Limit: Averted twice. The post-Ill Communication lineup included two Adams and two Mikes.
  • Origin Story: "Paul Revere" tells the (imagined) story of how the trio got together.
  • Parental Fashion Veto: "(You Gotta) Fight for Your Right (to Party)": "Don't step out of this house if that's the clothes you're gonna wear."
  • Parental Hypocrisy: ""(You Gotta) Fight for Your Right (to Party)" has this line:
    "Your pop caught you smoking and he says, 'No way!' That hypocrite smokes two packs a day!"
  • Percussive Maintenance: At the end of the "No Sleep Til Brooklyn" video, Ad-Rock, MCA and Mike D are trying to break into a safe full of money. Ad-Rock is turning the combination dial while listening to a stethoscope, MCA is using a jackhammer, and Mike is using a crowbar. Finally MCA just bangs his fist on the top of the safe and the door flies open.
  • Pirate: "Rhymin' and Stealin'" is a rap song about being pirates, and it's awesome. The Zeppelin and Sabbath samples help a lot.
  • Porn Stash: "(You Gotta) Fight for Your Right (to Party)" also has the lines: "Man, living at home is such a drag / Now your mom threw away your best porno mag."
  • Porn Stache: The Beasties as mustachioed cops in the "Sabotage" video.
  • Precision F-Strike:
    • In "So Whatcha Want" and "Sabotage".
    • And of course it's right in the title of "Hey Fuck You".
    • Not to mention the Intentionally Awkward Title of their concert film Awesome; I Fuckin' Shot That!
  • Punctuated! For! Emphasis!:
    • Best example of this would be "No Sleep Till Brooklyn", which starts out with the trope: "NO! SLEEP! TILL! (riff break) BROOKLYYYYNN!"
  • Rap Rock: Once they started playing their own instruments again.
  • Rated G for Gangsta: Intentionally invoked, as the Beasties began to feel ashamed of their past reputation and did their best to move beyond it.
  • Rated M for Manly: Their early image.
  • Rearrange the Song: The charity compilation No Alternative included a very different live take on "The New Style": Most of the lyrics remained the same, but the music was entirely different (based around a sample of Juice's "Catch A Groove"), and the vocals were done more in the style of Check Your Head.
  • Reference Overdosed: For example, this article covers 170 Shout Outs over their discography.
  • Retraux: "Intergalactic". It's a callback to the early days of rap when it was about coming up with the best possible rhymes.
  • Repurposed Pop Song: Averted. They never licensed their music(and the few times any of their songs were used illegally, they quickly shut down the offenders), and MCA was smart enough about this that he explicitly stated in his will that his music may never be used for commercial purposes. Mike D and Ad-Rock both wholeheartedly supported this statement.
    • Before they were widely known, a British Airways ad used a brief clip of "Beastie Revolution". It was done without permission - Beastie Boys sued, won and used some of the money to buy the drum machine heard on Licensed To Ill and other Def Jam releases from around that time.
  • Rhyming with Itself:
    • "Pass the Mic". This was an accident, but they liked it enough to keep it in.
    • In his guest appearance on "Get It Together", Q-Tip rhymes "Now & Laters" (as in the brand of hard candy) with "later", then immediately does some Lampshade Hanging with the line "Fuck it, 'cause I know I didn't make it fuckin' rhyme for real".
  • Rock-Star Song: "No Sleep Till Brooklyn", about touring the country and being good at it. "Fight for Your Right to Party" is a mockery of this.
  • Roof Hopping: Done in the music video to "Sabotage".
  • Room Disservice: A room service boy in the video to "Sabotage" is an undercover cop.
  • Sampling: Chuck D himself said that "the dirty secret" in the rap community back in 1989 was that "Paul's Boutique had the best beats."
    • With Hot Sauce Committee Part 2 they set out to create songs that sounded like they were based around obscure samples but weren't- the liner notes even include a list of nonexistent songs that they supposedly sampled.
  • Self-Deprecation: Aside from the title of the album itself being an example, the liner notes to Some Old Bullshit include a piece of hate mail dating from their hardcore punk years that, among other things, calls them "a pathetic, feeble imitation of Minor Threat and The Necros". The letter may have also been included for the It Will Never Catch On factor - the writer concludes by giving them the advice to "please save face and bow out of this mess as gracefully as you can", which is a bit ironic in light of how successful the group became a few years later note .
    • In context, the lyric "got an A from Moe Dee for sticking to themes" from "Intergalactic". Kool Moe Dee famously included "rap report cards" in the liner notes to two of his albums, in which he judged his contemporaries on specific categories and then gave them an overall grade. Beastie Boys were given a C overall, the lowest rating he gave out, but they did in fact get a 10 out of 10 for "sticking to themes".
  • The '70s: "TV Cop Show" edition. The "Sabotage" video hits a whole bunch of Seventies tropes, including Cowboy Cop, Everybody Was Kung-Fu Fighting, Police Brutality, Donut Mess with a Cop and Porn Stache - although, interestingly, no one carries firearms, so the period's Guns and Gunplay Tropes are completely averted. The closest they get is when Da Chief goes Ax-Crazy to breach the door of a criminal hideout.
  • Sex, Drugs, and Rock & Roll:
    • Licensed to Ill is loaded with such references.
    • Paul's Boutique does it more subtly.
  • Shaped Like Itself: In "Hold It Now, Hit It", MCA states "I come from Brooklyn 'cause that's where I'm from".
  • Shout-Out: Everything from The Flintstones to Dick Butkus to Steak-umm gets namechecked. And it never gets old.
    • Even "fine wine" gets a nod in "Body Movin'": "Like a bottle of Chateau Neuf du Pap/I'm fine like wine when I start to rap."
    • The short film "Fight For Your Right Revisited" (depicting a fictional day after the "Fight For Your Right" video) is practically crammed with shout outs.
    • Hello Nasty's title refers to their PR firm Nasty Little Man, and how its receptionist would answer the phone with "Hello, Nasty".
    • "No Sleep Till Brooklyn" references Motörhead's No Sleep 'til Hammersmith.
  • Signature Style: Shooting some of their music videos (ex: "Shake Your Rump") with fisheye lenses. Today, it's become a bit of a Dead Horse Trope to the point where anyone who utilizes the technique is more likely than not homaging Beastie Boys note .
  • Singer Name Drop: Frequently on License to Ill—and then occasionally after. For instance, one line in "So Whatcha Want" starts with "They call me Mike D...".
  • Sixth Ranger: Money Mark became this in the early nineties, and Mix Master Mike in the late nineties.
  • Stealth Parody: Their early material was a parody of fratboy douchebags, especially the "attitude song" parody "Fight For Your Right". Unfortunately, lots of people missed out that part, thought they were serious and became a Misaimed Fandom, and now Licensed to Ill is an Old Shame for them. Great work, morons.
  • Step Up to the Microphone: Discounting the all-instrumental jams (which arguably count as Step Up To The Instruments), some of Beastie Boys' songs have served more as spotlight for guest stars than themselves:
    • Q-Tip's guest appearance on "Get It Together", Santigold on "Don't Play No Game That I Can't Win", and Nas on "Too Many Rappers"
    • Money Mark performing the lead vocals on the appropriately named "Mark on the Bus".
    • Eugene Gore's violin solo on "Eugene's Lament".
    • Brooke Williams' lead vocals on "Picture This".
    • Eric Bobo's drumming on "Bobo on the Corner".
    • Lee Scratch Perry on "Dr. Lee, PhD".
    • Biz Markie on tons of tracks, primarily the live cover of "Bennie and the Jets"
  • Strapped to a Bomb: One of the characters in the music video for "Sabotage" gets taped and tied to a bomb.
  • Stuffy Old Songs About the Buttocks: "Shake Your Rump".
  • Subverted Rhyme Every Occasion: "3-Minute Rule" spoofs the Curse Cut Short variant:
    People come up to me and they try to talk shit
    • "Super Disco Breakin'" samples a line from Run–D.M.C.'s "Sucker M.C.'s" that actually rhymes with the preceding line and then cuts off the sample right before it gets to the end of the line to insert a non-rhyme:
      Let me tell you now, that's my favorite shit
      (And when I got a new rhyme I'll just say) so!
  • Take That!:
    • One man's ceiling is another man's floor, so get that money out yer ass, you whore! (from "What Comes Around") and Got fat bass lines like Russell Simmons steals money (from "B-Boys Makin' with the Freak Freak") are shots at Russell Simmons, the head of Def Jam Records who treated the Beasties so poorly they moved to Capitol.
    • Their diss of 3rd Bass in the last verse of "Professor Booty".
    • In "Alive": "Goatee Metal Rap Please Say 'goodnight'"
    • George W. Bush got a bunch during the To the 5 Boroughs era
  • Take That, Audience!: In "No Sleep Till Brooklyn" they brag about taking your money while on tour and having a better time than you.
    While you're at the job working nine to five
    The Beastie Boys at the Garden cold kickin' it live
  • Team Power Walk: Happens at the end of the music video to "Sabotage".
  • Token White: Back in The '80s, they were the first white rap group. Considering that they were a Hardcore Punk band beforehand, when Licensed to Ill came out, people were still convinced that it was all a Piss Take. The Hip-Hop community began to take them more seriously with Paul's Boutique onward, however...
  • Trash Landing: In the music video to Sabotage, one of the detectives jumps on a baddie and both land on a couple of trash bags lying around.
  • Trash the Set: "No Sleep Till Brooklyn" includes the line, "Trashing hotels like it's going out of style."
  • Truck Driver's Gear Change: A rare hip-hop variant... the riff in "Remote Control" changes keys in the last verse.
    • Also “Body Movin’” at around the 30 second mark, when the Beasties start the first verse.
  • True Companions: In Real Life the Beasties were as close as their albums would seem to indicate, which was especially apparent in the wake of MCA's death.
  • Updated Re-release: Paul's Boutique, Check Your Head, Ill Communication and Hello Nasty all got this treatment, with an extra disc of B-sides added to the latter three and a commentary track added to Paul's Boutique.
  • Use Your Head: In the "No Sleep Till Brooklyn" video, the three guys are trying to break into the safe at the club they're performing at; they fail to open it until MCA hits it with the top of his head.
  • Vocal Tag Team: Of the "two or more" variety.
    • MCA: The lowest-pitched of the three, with a raspy voice.
    • Mike D: Higher-pitched, with a slightly nasal tone.
    • Ad-Rock: The highest-pitched of the three, with an even more nasal tone(as an example, he sings the lead vocal on "Sabotage").
  • Wall of Text: The liner notes to Paul's Boutique and Hello Nasty print the lyrics like this, combined with all lowercase letters and No Punctuation Period, and also little indication of where a song starts and begins.(Paul's uses pictures of fish to indicate where certain songs begin, but you're on your own with Hello Nasty.) Also, several of the lyrics are intentionally printed wrong.
    • Beastie Boys Book concludes with 2 "mixtape" lists that one would need a magnifying glass to read.
  • While You Were in Diapers: MCA's boast in "3-Minute Rule" and the single version of "Too Many Rappers." It's a little more believable in the latter (written in his mid-40s) than the former (early 20s).
  • Wild Teen Party: The video for "Fight For Your Right".
  • World of Ham: Their discography. After all they are a band with three Large Ham rappers.
  • Word Salad Lyrics: Beastie Boys songs that don't fit this are the exception rather than the rule.

Okay, that's the end of it for tonight, folks. It's good to hear y'all out there. Come back next week; have some sheets for ya. Remember, on your way home..... if you're drivin', don't drink, and if ya drink, don't drive.

Alternative Title(s): The Beastie Boys