License To Ill ,
The groundbreaking record was not only massive for rock and hip-hop, but for the lives of Beastie Boys members, Adam “MCA” Yauch, Adam “Ad-Rock” Horovitz and Michael “Mike D” Diamond.
With the success of the record and careers that followed, it’s easy to look back at the 1986 version of the trio and label them purposeful geniuses. Take nothing away from the NYC rappers, but during the time they were just a bunch of Jewish kids trying to make each other laugh with nonsensical dorm-room-raps. Turns out that’s exactly what the world needed. Here are things you never knew about their debut album, License To Ill.
The Rick Rubin Injection
The now well established, hairy and sought after producer was far from that in 1986. With only a handful of producing credits to his name, and working out of his NYU dorm room, the Beastie Boys remained faithful and chose to side with Rubin who had worked with them on their 1985 single, ‘Rock Hard’. That particular release had illegally used samples from AC/DC’s ‘Back In Black’ causing it to be withdrawn from sales, but evidently that didn’t deter the trio.
Rubin is often noted as the one who injected the hip hop flavour into what was mostly a punk outfit, and Licensed To Ill will forever be one of his most influential records.
Here’s Rubin with the boys sporting matching tracksuits back in 1985. Shoutout to the ski goggles.
Toppin’ The Charts
Licensed To Ill was the first ever rap LP to top the Billboard album charts, and also one of Columbia Records fastest selling debut releases. It has sold over 10 million copies in the United States alone, making it certified diamond!
Its competition in 1986? Bon Jovi’s Slippery When Wet (12x platinum) and Bruce Springsteen’s Live 1975-85 (13x platinum).
You can pick up a 30th anniversary edition vinyl with matching merch on the Beastie Boys website.
They weren’t necessarily new
Yes Licensed To Ill was their debut record, but a year earlier the Beastie Boys were touring with Madonna, and there’s no way that slot would be filled by a no-name-punk-rap-group.
Still, you might be thinking that it’s not quite a fitting match-up. And you’re right, it didn’t work.Madonna fans were bewildered by the pairing, and the trio spent most of the tour being heckled and booed off stage. Not that they cared, especially Ad-Rock who made out with Madonna in a backstage bathroom.
Slayer’s Kerry King Wasn’t A Fan
License To Ill was just one of four albums Rick Rubin produced in 1986. Another was Slayer’s, Reign In Blood.
Looking to bring the family together, Rubin got Slayer guitarist Kerry King to work on a couple of the Beastie Boy tracks. He’s responsible for the solo on ‘No Sleep Till Brooklyn’ and is also donning the gorilla suit in the music video.
In an interview with Rolling Stone, Rubin admitted that the musicians didn’t love working together…
“Idon’t think he liked the song. I think he just thought it was bizarre. He’s a real, serious metalhead. He really loves metal, and I don’t think he listens to much music outside of metal. At least then he didn’t. I don’t think it spoke to his aesthetic. And honestly, in retrospect, I don’t think he really spoke to the Beasties’ aesthetic. They didn’t really like him either [laughs]. It was kind of mutual.”
DJ Sudeep K
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