Artist: Beastie Boys
Album: Paul's Boutique
Produced by: Dust Brothers
Release Date: July 25, 1989
Beastie Boys are:
Michael "Mike D" Diamond
Adam "King Adrock" Horowitz
Adam "MCA" Yauch
#156 on RS' 500 albums of all time list
despite all the love hip-hop gets on these forums, especially for these guys, i was surprised by the lack of album reviews under the beastie boys. the only one is 1986's Liscene to Ill
, which is argubly their worst effort.
anyways this is the review for Paul's Boutique
, their sophomore release from back in 1989, and most definately one of the most important, and even neglected, albums in the ever-growing genre of hip-hop. along with the help of the Dust Brothers (who would help produce other such landmark albums like Beck's Odelay
, the Beasties help introduce hip-hop into soundscapes that went beyond songs dependent on a simple beat and a sample or two. this is an album of a staggering array of layers and textures, that wasn't really rivaled until the release of DJ Shadow's Entroducing...
in 1996. Beat after beat, groove upon groove, this album was also a pinnacle in showcasing hip-hops ability to act as a pop-culture almanac, as this album samples and lyrically references as diverse as the Beatles, Bob Marley, Curtis Mayfield, James Brown, rockabilly, The Flintstones, Bob Dylan, Johnny Cash, Welcome Back Kotter, Sir Isaac Newton, Psycho, J.D. Salinger,.....well you get the idea.
Not only did the genre grow from this, so did the Beastie Boys themselves. this album is unique as it illustrates their lyrical transition from the violent-and-mindless-frat-boy-gansta-wannabe-delinquency to the quirky and obtuse wordplay style that they now almost exclusively claim as their own in mainstream rap today. this is quite simply an amazing album, needles to say.
1. To All the Girls
- the album begins with a sleazy little nightclub vibe of Adrock "shouting it out to all the girls" over a smooth electric piano groove and some sparse percussion. very simple, but effective. 4/5
2. Shake Your Rump
- This song kicks in from out of nowhere with a furious drumroll and Adrock, MCA, and Mike D each taking shots at the mic in the way that only they can do. most importantly, this song is constantly shifting beats and grooves, relying on a funky guitar riff, latin-influenced tom blasts, and some killer cuts on the turntable. the sleazy bass line after the chorus in just aweseome. everything mixes so unbelievalby well. Best lyric: "Is your name Micheal Diamond?/ No mine's Clarence". 5/5
- this song, about a homeless bum who used to be a big music star, is showcased nicely by an awkward and funky guitar riff and another bluesy lick in the chorus. The Beasties meanwhile showcase their unique story-telling ability that combines humour and narrative very well. 4.5/5
4. Egg Man
- Borrowing the funky bass line from Curtis Mayfield's "Superfly" this is a very catchy song that revolves around such an awkward subject. the Beasties lay out some killer little lines like "which came first the chicken or the egg?/ I egged the chicken and then i ate his leg". the song switches timbres midway through to some fat new orleans-style horns and some more funk-based samples. awesome song. 5/5
5. High Plains Drifter
- with a sinister sounding bass line and a very sexual sample of a woman moaning, this is also another awesome song that reflects the delinquent image of the beasties. more of the beastie's impressive narrative that recalls "Paul Revere". Adrock in particular shines on this track, as he full of character and eccentric flows. 4/5
6. The Sounds of Science
- Starts off very mellow with the boys rapping about science, oddly enough, especially given the bone-headed personas that they previously established themselves as. midway, the song breaks into a very atmospheric break with some huge turntable/horn blasts that cuts right into all 3 members rapping accapella at an alarming rate. the song then borrows the guitar riff from the Beatles' "The End" and it works perfectly. wow. 5/5
7. 3-Minute Rule
- the song kicks off with a simple beat featuring Mike D. falling "asleep while watching Dragnet". riddled with turntable cuts, a smooth bass line, and an obtuse 1-sec string sample. MCA has an awesome verse as well. 3.5/5
8. Hey Ladies
- This was the big single fromt he album, that is characterized by an array of funky guitars, heavy percussion, and some rapid-fire lines by the Beastie Boys. this song has a heavy James Brown influence. the main vocal hook is very catchy and is backed up by a very cool bass line. the fact that this song has cowbell in it also makes cool. This song in the end also features some kind of pressurized vocal sound synomonous with George Clinton and used long before Dr. Dre's concept of "G-Funk", which is also pretty interesting. 5/5
the next track is 5-Piece Chicken Dinner
and it isn't really anything, just some manic banjo plucking and hollering, so i'm not gonna rate it, but it is pretty cool in illustrating the mashing of pop culture that exists in the album.
10. Looking Down the Barrel of a Gun
- Not to be confused with the song by Depeche Mode, this song mixes a very heavy Black Sabbath-style riff with some heavy percussion. Bruce Willis and MC Ren are among those referenced in this track. the Beasties meanwhile, continue to deliver the lyrical goods, especially by borrowing the line "Rascism is Schism" from Bob Marley's "Get Up, Stand Up". 4./5
11. Car Thief
- this song kicks off with some crazy, flange-heavy (?), scratching and segues into some funky guitar riffs and basslines. the distorted bassline in the chorus adds to the texture of the song really well. the acapella in the second verse is also pretty cool. 5/5
12. What Comes Around
- another very James Brown influenced track as suggested by the rhythmic guitar samples and heavy basslines. the short sample of a hard rock song, some jazzy piano, greasy horns, and primal drum beats gives this song a very sly feel. 4/5
- i have no idea what the title means, but this song is just amazing as the amount of textures and samples achieved in this song are done in such a furious manner. the descending soulful female vocal sample works wonders with the lively horns and frantic rhythms that feature plenty of percussion. MCA's line, "Got more suits than Jacoby and Meyers" is just one among the many of killer raps in this song. 5/5
the next track, Ask for Janice
is nothing just a guy talking and advertising for Paul's Boutique, the store this album was named after (at least what im sure). no rating
15. B-Boy Bouillabaisse
- this song is 12 and a half minute medley that features a variety of beats, samples, riffs, grooves, and flows. beat-boxing and shouts of "get on the mic!" by MCA and Adrock kick it off wonderfully. chockfull of more funky grooves, synth-heavy disco melodies, dub-influenced booming, killer turntable cuts, wah, and johnny cash, this song is the perfect closer. 5/5
well, this song was originally considered a commercial failure, but artistically it is simply amazing. the textures and layers and layers of beats, grooves and samples is nothing short of impressive and the flow is pretty much non-stop as every track blends into the next like a giant mix. this record signals what the beasties would later achieve in their careers and is definately recommended for first-time listeners of the beasties over Liscence to Ill
. This is most arguably their best record. awesome cover art too.
final rating: 5/5
Shake Your Rump
The Sounds of Science