B-Boys in the Hall
So the Beastie Boys are being inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame tomorrow. The fine folks at FRESHCASSETTE could not be happier for them. Afterall we did remix an entire album of theirs last year. To commerate this milestone we wanted to share several of the tracks we did of theirs last year, plus share some Beastie Boys inspired official FC artwork.
Plus, notable hip-hop journalist and critically acclaimed bossanova artist, Rhett Graham sits down with our very own Jon from FRESHCASSETTE to discuss how the Beastie Boys have been a part of his life for the past 25 years.
RG: Jon , how did you find the Beasties and was it love at first listen?
JS: I first was exposed to hip-hop around ’87 or ’88 by watching the early episodes of Yo! MTV Raps with Fab Five Freddy. They played a lot of Run DMC, LL Cool J, and Beastie Boys. I went to my local record store, Streetside Records around the same time. I don’t remember what order I bought them in but I picked up the cassettes of Raising Hell, Bigger and Deffer, and Licensed to Ill all around the same time. I loved them all and played them all the time. Most of my friends were into hair bands at the time, but something about the gritty rawness of this new form of music stuck to me at the time. The cool thing about the Beasties is that these were some white dudes doing a primarily black art form, yet they were just rapping about stuff white kids do. They have never tried to be something they’re not. To this day, even after 25 or so years the Beastie Boys and that whole original Def Jam crew are still some of my favorite artists.
RG: Did your exposure to these new artists blend into other areas of your life? Did you rock the fashion of the day? If so, what was a memorable fashion/experience that you discovered as an offshoot of Hip Hop?
JS: Absolutely, there was this local rock and roll shop called, Xanadu. They sold rare rock and hip-hop t-shirts and posters. I remember in the 5th or 6th grade buying Beastie Boys and Public Enemy t-shirts. I also bought this huge poster that had Run-DMC and the Beastie Boys (including DJ Hurricane) together on it. It said Together Forever, which I believe was the name of the tour they did together. As far as fashion goes, I owned many pairs of shell toe sneakers and Adidas warmup suits. I always wanted a dookie gold rope but could never afford one, nor could I ever pull one off either.
RG: As the Beasties have aged, their music, concerts and agendas have "matured". For a while, they ignored their entire first album while on tour. How do you feel about the progression of their albums? Specifically, how do you feel about the first album versus where they are now?
JS: They have definitely matured over time. I don’t have the pressures of fame or fortune so I may be speaking nonsense, but I would imagine after a while most musicians and actors realize they can do a lot of good with their celebrity. I think with the Beastie Boys acting rude and crass on Licensed to Ill could only last so long. People grow up, musicians want to evolve. By the time Hello Nasty came around they were very active with their Tibetan Freedom concerts, and it seemed like they were starting to adopt to a small degree some political agendas. I obviously can’t speak for them, but some of the lyrics on Licensed to Ill, particularly one song, are degrading and offensive to all women. At the time they probably wanted to stay away from that part of their career, and since then they have done so much to make up for some of the questionable lyrics on that one album. It appears they have come back from that period and have fully embraced their past now. Seems like most people have a part of their past they may want to forget at some point, then five to ten years later they realize it wasn’t so bad. Whether people love or hate that first album, it is a pivotal piece of their history and should not be ignored.
As far as the progression of their albums goes…they’re right on point. As many critics claim, Paul’s Boutique was their greatest album because it was so revolutionary for its time. Check Your Head and Ill Communication in my book go hand-in-hand, like a double album. Plus, this time period has my fondest memories of the Beastie Boys. I was in high school at this time, and wanted to be the fourth Beastie Boy so damn bad. Then going into Hello Nasty, To the 5 Boroughs, The Mix-Up, and HSCP2, the listener can hear the progression of their talents. People have to give them credit for being original…who else can rock a hip-hop jam, bang out some punk rock, and do some funky instrumental shit?
RG: If the Beasties came to you and said, we are doing a 8 song set at the hall of fame concert, we want you to pick 7 of our songs and one song you want us to cover... how would you do it?
JS: Oh man, that’s a big question. It would probably be best to pick something from each album. So let’s do it like this.
Rhymin’ and Stealin’
Looking Down the Barrell of a Gun
So Whatcha Want
3 MC’s and One DJ
Oh Word? (with the FRESHCASSETTE remixed beats)
Too Many Rappers
They’ve done it before but it’s so good…for the cover, definitely have them behind their instruments with Biz Markie belting out B-B-B-Benny and Jets!
RG: Thanks so much for taking some time to chat. Any parting words?
JS: Hey, thanks for the opportunity. I just want to congratulate the Beastie Boys and say it's been an honor to grow up as a fan. I wish them nothing but continued success.
Beastie Boys - Oh Word? (FRESHCASSETTE Remix) by FRESHCASSETTE
Beastie Boys - Hey Fuck You (FRESHCASSETTE Remix) by FRESHCASSETTE
Beastie Boys - Brr Stick Em (FRESHCASSETTE Remix) **BONUS TRACK** by FRESHCASSETTE
Beastie Boys - An Open Letter to NYC (FRESHCASSETTE Remix) by FRESHCASSETTE
Beastie Boys - Crawlspace (FRESHCASSETTE Remix) by FRESHCASSETTE
Beastie Boys - Triple Trouble (FRESHCASSETTE Remix) by FRESHCASSETTE
Beastie Boys - That's It That's All (FRESHCASSETTE Remix) by FRESHCASSETTE
Beastie Boys - Ch-Check It Out (FRESHCASSETTE Remix) by FRESHCASSETTE
More music by the Beastie Boys and others can be found on our Soundcloud page.