The Beastie Boys – Interview Preview

A teaser for our forthcoming feature...

Clash recently spent some quality face-to-face time with the three members of the Beastie Boys – Adam Yauch a.k.a. MCA, Michael Diamond a.k.a. Mike D, and Adam Horovitz a.k.a. Ad-Rock.

Our full interview will run in a future issue of Clash Magazine – the legendary NYC rap trio’s new album ‘Hot Sauce Committee Pt. 1′ is released in September – but for now here’s a snippet of our forthcoming feature. Being discussed: the Beasties’ highly influential second LP ‘Paul’s Boutique’…

– – –

1989 was a massively important year in hip-hop, and the Beastie Boys had to make their mark a significant one or else they’d easily be left behind as a creative force. Public Enemy’s ‘It Takes A Nation Of Millions To Hold Us Back’, released in ’88, shook the genre up like never before, proving that rap acts could create enthralling, educated and influential long-players capable of crossing critical borders and attracting amazing commercial attention. The bar had been raised, and the Beasties knew their second album needed to not only represent a considerable progression from their debut, but that it also had to match their own expectations for what a hip-hop album should be in 1989, after the three had soaked up both ‘Nation Of Millions’ and De La Soul’s phenomenally important ‘3 Feet High And Rising’. That album was ‘Paul’s Boutique’.

“It doesn’t feel like twenty years ago, at all” says Diamond when I bring up the album that, really, set the ball rolling for what’s become the socially conscious, sonically audacious and politically charged trio I see before me today. “Twenty years sounds like a really long time, but it doesn’t seem all that long ago, to me, that I was listening to all those incredible records.”

“I remember listening to ‘Nation Of Millions’ over and over again when it came out, with headphones,” recalls Yauch. “That was the first time someone had approached a hip-hop album like other artists – rock artists is what I mean – would approach an album. I don’t think it was until Public Enemy that hip-hop really embraced the album format.”

“Our first album (‘Licensed To Ill’) was just a collection of songs, really – it didn’t really work together as an album,” continues Diamond. “But I remember, at different points of making and finishing ‘Paul’s Boutique’, listening to ‘Nation Of Millions’ and ‘3 Feet High And Rising’ and feeling both excited and depressed. I was excited because both were incredibly great records, but depressed because whatever we made wouldn’t really mean anything, as they were so good.”

Although it didn’t sell as many copies as ‘Licensed To Ill’, ‘Paul’s Boutique’ hit a critical homerun, and has since been reappraised, following a twentieth anniversary expanded re-issue, to the tune of perfect scores across a wealth of music magazines and websites. The rappers’ on-record rapport with producers The Dust Brothers was wonderfully realised, their relationship one that began with surprise but was soon running smoothly.

“They had a bunch of music together, before we arrived to work with them,” says Yauch. “As a result, a lot of the tracks on ‘Paul’s Boutique’ come from songs they’d planned to release to clubs as instrumentals – ‘Shake Your Rump’, for example. They’d put together some beats, basslines and guitar lines, all these loops together, and they were quite surprised when we said we wanted to rhyme on it, because they thought it was too dense. They offered to strip it down to just beats, but we wanted all of that stuff on there. I think half of the tracks were written when we got there, and the other half we wrote together.”

– – –

Beastie Boys – ‘Shake Your Rump’ (1989)

– – –

‘Hot Sauce Committee Pt. 1’ is due for release on September 14 – click HERE for our preview of the album, alongside details of more albums we’re looking forward to in the second half of 2009.

Join the Clash mailing list for up to the minute music, fashion and film news.