May 31, 2022

Beastie Boys "Ill Communication" (May 31, 1994)

Guaranteed plan for success: Spend your formative teenage years in early '80s downtown NYC, following hip hop all-nighters with full afternoons of hardcore punk at CBGB and vice versa. Confound fans of your hardcore band by working full-on rap numbers into your repertoire, ultimately dropping instrumentation altogether. Release the first ever rap album to top the pop charts, spend a couple years as the biggest hip hop outfit ever, then go underground. Come out a few years and 180 degrees later, working live instrumental jams and straight-up punk rock back into the set. Record sales are back up past the million mark, shows selling out everywhere... and then what the f#ck do you do? Well, unless you're the Beastie Boys, you don't get this far in the first place. If you are the Beastie Boys, however, you once again release your most ambitious record to date, Ill Communication (Grand Royal/Capitol). Like its predecessor, 1992's Check Your Head, Ill Communication is a B-Boys/Mario Caldato Jr. - produced 20-song blend of genius lyrics and rhymes (John Woo/Rod Carew, Kojak/bozack, divorcee/Lee Dorsey... all by the end of the first verse of lead track/first single "Sure Shot"), soulful instrumental interludes (including the bass-overdriven "Futterman's Rule," the plaintive "Ricky's Theme," and closing cool-down "Transitions"), and the occasional blast of hardcore punk ("Tough Guy," "Heart Attack Man"). Unlike Check..., which was two years in the making, the bi-coastally recorded Ill Communication took barely seven months to complete--just over a year to the day from beginning of recording to release date--setting a precedent for a band whose fans have grown accustomed to three-year intervals between albums. "We finished the Check Your Head tour around Thanksgiving '92," Mike D recalls. "We were on tour for eight months, then we took five months off. Then we started on the new album in New York. We just got back together, set up all our equipment, and started playing right off. We then headed back to the world-famous G-Son studios in LA to sift through our collection of 'Space Truckin'-esque jams and begin working on the hip-hop tracks." - Press Kit, 1994. "Get It Together" with Q-Tip was absolutely my jam at that time. Revisit the Ill Communication album from the Beastie Boys below...

I hope history never forgets the unique impact the Beastie's had on music.