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Who knew Mike D knew so many dance moves.
December 16, 2010 1:26 AM   Subscribe

Beastie Boys Annotated

Previously, but at a new URL, and it's been six years.
posted by cthuljew (44 comments total) 10 users marked this as a favorite

 
Site last updated June 16, 2004

Oh boy, a wayback machine. I remember this site fondly.

A-and I love the Beastie Boys.

Has anyone else noticed how Mike D is morphing into Jerzy Kosinski?
posted by chavenet at 1:54 AM on December 16, 2010


I'm going to take a guess that the author was very young when Licensed to Ill came out. Or possibly not yet born. And definitely not born around the ghetto. That would explain so much of the slang falling under his radar.

I could go on forever, but just glancing at his work I noticed that he misses most of the interesting stuff, or most of the things one cannot find after a quick google. Or he doesnt realize that something is a reference in the first place.

A glaring mistake is calling Brass Monkey a mixed drink. Maybe it is for someone reading a cocktail book or using google, but it is actually a "pre-mixed" cocktail in the days before this type of thing was mainstream. Sold on the bottom shelf next to the Thunderbird, it had a white, gold, and red label. The BBoys are no doubt referring to this product, as they refer to having a "case in the place", "in the bottle", "in the can" etc etc

"Miller" does not refer to "The Miller Brewing Company Family of Beers", It refers to Miller High Life, which was also featured in the "Fight for your right to party" video and is the only beer from said family that was or is cool in the subculture because of its low price and acceptable taste.

"the Freak" "the Jerk" "the Smurf, etc. were all very popular dances in the mid 80's, there is really no mystery here, you can see them on utube.

Most of the drug references slipped by him, "dusting out cause I torch that crack", etc

Anyway, not much to learn here that you cant find from googling some of the words and phrases. the bboys were responsible for bringing many many words and phrases from the black urban vernacular ("dis" "word" etc etc) to the greater society, but you wont learn much about that from this page, nor will you the origins of words like "macking" "lamping" etc

Added to that, many of the lyrics are incorrectly transcribed, yawn...
posted by bboyberlin at 2:41 AM on December 16, 2010 [14 favorites]


I did it like this - I did it like that
I did it with a whiffleball bat...

A whiffle ball is a hollow, plastic ball with holes cut into the surface. The design keeps the ball from travelling too far, too fast and is used as a primer for small children to learn the basics of baseball. The whiffle ball bat is typically made of hard molded plastic and very slender.


This is nice. He describes a raunchy lyric about having whiffleball-bat sex (or whiffleball bat-sex?) with the the sheriff's daughter in the purely technical terms of the instrument involved. That the bat is "very slender" is the only possible sexual reference and even this is oblique. Well done.
posted by three blind mice at 3:10 AM on December 16, 2010


yeah, rapgenius out covers and snarks the hell out of this guy
posted by neustile at 4:50 AM on December 16, 2010 [3 favorites]


Or, as I prefer:

"A neema neema blap ding a ding ding blap/
A neema neema blap ding a ding ding blap/
A neema neema blap ding a ding ding 70's Cultural Reference/
A neema neema blap ding a ding ding Blaxploitation Film/
A neema neema blap ding a ding ding Brand of Malt Liquor"

Repeat for 5 or so albums.
posted by The Giant Squid at 5:02 AM on December 16, 2010 [2 favorites]


Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego appear in the 3rd chapter of "Daniel" in the Bible. Refusing to worship a golden idol, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego are thrown into a furnace by the king of Babylon, where they are unharmed for their unwavering faith in their god. As a result, the king declares the entire kingdom worship the Jewish god.

Indeed!
posted by the painkiller at 5:43 AM on December 16, 2010 [1 favorite]


I got the spice you bring the sauce

This has always bothered me. That's the lyric listed on the album jacket, too, but if you listen (it's from "Super Disco Breakin" on Hello Nasty) the line clearly starts "The worm is the spice" for a nice Dune reference to be annotated. And if you disagree, I will break a beer bottle and use it to cut your pretty face.
posted by COBRA! at 7:15 AM on December 16, 2010 [2 favorites]


This would work so much better as a wiki.
posted by almostmanda at 8:02 AM on December 16, 2010


My parents had a sit-down with me after I taught my six-year old sister the lyrics to Fight for Your Right. That said, I had no idea the line "I'm so electric like Dick Hyman" referred to this Dick Hyman.
posted by spikeleemajortomdickandharryconnickjrmints at 8:51 AM on December 16, 2010


Repeat for 5 or so albums.

Well, not really. There is a huge progression between License to Ill and Paul's Boutique, then another huge transition between Paul's Boutique and Check Your Head--in terms of both style and subject matter. But then, yes repeat for 5 albums or so after that. Unless you're just talking about their "flow", in which case, yes pretty much. Somehow Adrock's schtick still never seems to get old for me.

Also I recall at some point reading something about them drinking Brass Monkey with Banana Popsicles in it instead of ice. Ew.
posted by Hoopo at 9:08 AM on December 16, 2010


This reminds me how great and revolutionary The Beastie Boys were. I was 13 when Licensed to Ill came out which was perfect timing. And for the next 2 albums they were leading the way on trendsetting and rap innovation. I've tried to explain that to people under 30 today and they just don't understand. They weren't there.

I didn't look at the Paul's Boutique chapter, but that album is so crammed full of references it would take years to decipher them all.
posted by Liquidwolf at 9:30 AM on December 16, 2010


This reminds me how great and revolutionary The Beastie Boys were... they were leading the way on trendsetting and rap innovation.

This is so true and in my mind the Beasties are way too frequently overlooked. It's true that their rhymes weren't really pushing the envelope much, but beginning with Paul's Boutique their beats were way ahead of 99.9% of what was going on at that time (License to Ill was pretty much the contemporary sound rather than innovation). Unfortunately Fight For Your Right got them pigeonholed as a bunch of obnoxious frat boys, and opened them up to a lot of criticism and people writing them off. As much as I liked 3rd Bass, even as a young kid I could never really understand their animosity towards the Beasties. MC Serch has since recanted, not sure about Pete Nice.
posted by Hoopo at 9:47 AM on December 16, 2010 [1 favorite]


The first two cassette tapes I ever owned were Licensed to Ill and Rubber Soul. Both were gifts from different people. I have no idea how I lucked into friends with such awesome musical taste.

I like the way he only identifies the 'high cultural' references and skips right over explaining any of the slang or contemporary urban vernacular that actually form the core of the music. Usually the intentionally ironic doesn't do it for me, but here it works.
posted by meinvt at 9:49 AM on December 16, 2010


I enjoy the Beastie Boys, but their lyrics always seem to me like anytime they get a random thought, they write it down, collecting all of them in some big database, and then put rhyming ones together for no reason other than the fact that they rhyme, or at least almost rhyme.
Sometimes I like to brag sometimes I'm soft spoken
When I'm in Holland I eat the pannenkoeken
Or
When I wrote graffiti my name was Slop
If my rap's soup my beats is stock
Or
I've got the D double O, D double O style
Here we go again because it's been awhile
Do me a favor don't touch that dial
I rock from Manhattan to the Miracle Mile
Or
I love it when you hit those switches
A curve ball's what my pitch is
Or
I got books with hooks and it looks like rain
Would someone on the Knicks please drive the lane
On another note, Dr. Lee, Ph.D. is one of my all-time favorite songs.
posted by Flunkie at 10:12 AM on December 16, 2010


As much as I liked 3rd Bass, even as a young kid I could never really understand their animosity towards the Beasties.

I had to listed to 3rd Bass because some friends in liked them in high school. I never liked them, they were too contrived and posturing I thought, constantly trying to he "hard" and prove themselves because they were white I guess. They had good beats but that was due to Sam Sever who was good. The Beastie Boys never had to act "black" or pretentious because they weren't insecure. They were punk rock dudes who were confident and created their own style instead of aping others. And whatever that rivalry was about, MCA ended that feud by verbally decimating MC Search in Professor Booty ( I think it was that track ). 3rd Bass never stood a chance.
posted by Liquidwolf at 10:24 AM on December 16, 2010 [2 favorites]


They had good beats but that was due to Sam Sever who was good.

And Prince Paul, and the Bomb Squad, and a cameo from MF DOOM (in 1989!). They do have some cringe-worthy lyrics and at one point go after Tom Waits too (sacrilege!), but the Cactus Album has more than a few truly classic beats.
posted by Hoopo at 10:47 AM on December 16, 2010


Unless you're just talking about their "flow", in which case, yes pretty much.

I could never get past that. For all of the talk about how innovative they were, their flow was, easily among the most uninspired of the eighties. "Intergalactic", released in 1998, could have just as easily come from 1984, in terms of quality of rhyme. The rest of the hip-hop world had lapped them once or twice by then.

Kool Moe Dee was right, with his report card.
posted by The Giant Squid at 10:59 AM on December 16, 2010


but the Cactus Album has more than a few truly classic beats.

Yes it does. Tom Waits? Why the hell? I don't remember that.
posted by Liquidwolf at 11:00 AM on December 16, 2010


Also, what Flunkie said.
posted by The Giant Squid at 11:04 AM on December 16, 2010


Liquid Wolf-

There was a track called Flippin of the Wall Like Lucy Ball where Serch put on a fake bluesman voice and sang over a loop from Waits' version of "Way Down in the Hole" (The Wire's theme song). He sings about "white people who think they're black" and stuff. Because of their enormous-chip-on-the-shoulder, I took that to be a dis on Tom Waits, but I could be wrong. It's also so damned hypocritical it's not even funny.
posted by Hoopo at 11:32 AM on December 16, 2010


Hoopo,
Oh yeah i do recall that. I didn't get the Tom Waits reference- if that's what it was. Could be that. Either way it was hypocritical, yep.
posted by Liquidwolf at 11:59 AM on December 16, 2010


Repeat for 5 or so albums.

BLASPHEMER.

Sometimes I like to brag sometimes I'm soft spoken
When I'm in Holland I eat the pannenkoeken
Or
When I wrote graffiti my name was Slop
If my rap's soup my beats is stock
Or
I've got the D double O, D double O style
Here we go again because it's been awhile
Do me a favor don't touch that dial
I rock from Manhattan to the Miracle Mile
Or
I love it when you hit those switches
A curve ball's what my pitch is
Or
I got books with hooks and it looks like rain
Would someone on the Knicks please drive the lane


If these are your examples of *weak* rhymes, well, then I just can't help you.

(Full disclosure: the Beastie Boys have been my favorite group of all time for 20 years.)
posted by tristeza at 12:53 PM on December 16, 2010 [1 favorite]


In all fairness, I should say, "if you think these are weak rhymes of the Beasties specifically" - they are 100% their own thing, and can't really be compared to other "rappers" or rhymers or whatever.
posted by tristeza at 12:58 PM on December 16, 2010


What? I didn't try to compare them to other rappers or rhymers or whatever. I genuinely don't understand what you're getting at.
posted by Flunkie at 1:20 PM on December 16, 2010


tristeza, Flunkie:

What I agreed with is that Flunkie asserted (correctly, I feel), that The Beastie Boys' lyrics were rarely narratively cohesive, and really, more exercises in finding rhymes and cultural references to fit.

Moreover, while line A and line B most often do rhyme, and the Boys will frequently hop through some absurd hoops to ensure that, their music seldom tends to get past an AABB rhyme scheme.

Compared to lots of other rappers of the same era, who could maintain a solid story or theme, engage in far more sophisticated rhyme schemes, or, hell, at least entertain you with a good set of rhymes about crack or rims, the Beasties really feel dated, and, haven't seemed to age well at all.

I'm sure there's value in their work (the rock press keeps telling me this), but when I hear it, it might as well all be: "Well my name is X and I'm here to say".
posted by The Giant Squid at 1:46 PM on December 16, 2010


If it ain't broke, why fix it?
posted by P.o.B. at 2:16 PM on December 16, 2010


P.o.B.:

Hilarious
posted by The Giant Squid at 6:15 PM on December 16, 2010


While we're on the subject: A Postmodern Analysis of Beastie Boys' "Shadrach"
Much more detailed and interesting than the particular site linked above.

"Postmodern cultural texts abandon traditional notions of content and continuity. A text does not tell a single story - it may be fragmented into many different messages. References and examples are to other media creations and images, as recursive copies of copies abound. In addition, a postmodern piece may exhibit a kind of self-consciousness. While traditional texts adhere to standards of construction or objectivity that aim to make the creator invisible, postmodernist texts often reference themselves."

Beastie Boys lyrics are made for fun and purposefully disjointed. Other rappers do other things. It doesn't demean anyone else to enjoy what the Beastie Boys are doing.

Also, dogs love me cause I'm crazy sniffable.
posted by amethysts at 8:11 PM on December 16, 2010 [1 favorite]


Beastie Boys lyrics are made for fun and purposefully disjointed.
I don't know about that; they weren't always that way, were they? I mean, for all of the talk of how they really stepped it up a notch starting with Paul's Boutique, it seems like they also stepped it down, lyrically. I mean, "Fight for Your Right" and "Paul Revere" are cogent stories, whereas it seems like all their later stuff are just collections of random non sequiturs that happen to more or less rhyme.

You can spin that as "purposely disjointed", and maybe they do, but it seems to me like they just decided to stop putting effort into that part of their music.
posted by Flunkie at 8:58 PM on December 16, 2010


I guess I just find it more difficult to believe that they decided, "Hey, let's start making all our new lyrics purposely disjointed, it will be a dadaesque artistic statement" than I do to believe that they decided, "Ah, fuck it, 'looks like rain' rhymes with 'drive the lane', good enough".
posted by Flunkie at 9:31 PM on December 16, 2010


I don't know about that; they weren't always that way, were they?

Yes, Paul Revere (off the top of my head) is the closest I think they ever come to forming a narrative. Fight for Your Right does not have a synchronical storyline. The Beastie Boys were born out of the earliest styles around, when all anybody cared about was rocking the party. There wasn't a real perceptual shift in rap lyrics until the late 80's after they were already well established.
posted by P.o.B. at 11:29 AM on December 17, 2010


Fight for Your Right does not have a synchronical storyline.
Perhaps not a "story", but it definitely had internal self-consistency in its theme, and lines that worked together towards expounding that theme. That's the important distinction between it and their newer stuff, not whether it's literally a story or not.
posted by Flunkie at 3:29 PM on December 17, 2010


That's the important distinction between it and their newer stuff

Flunkie, I'm having a hard time grasping what you're comparing as far as then to now. The Beastie's lyrical style/delivery comes striaght out of the early eighties, and they've maintained the same style since. By and large they always construct their songs around a theme, pretty much like any musician, and as far as I can tell their newer stuff isn't any different. As comparison here's classic early eighties rap:

MC Shan - The Bridge

Run DMC - It's Like That

Listen for the Boom Bap. Hear how the rhyme is delivered along with the beat? Now go listen to your favorite Beastie Boys song. Rhymes are the same, they just changed their music. But I think that's notable in itself, as opposed to what some people here are saying.

If you really want to listen to a milestone in lyrical delivery, check out Eric B And Rakim - Paid In Full
Beastie Boys preceded that, but like I said what they do works. There's nothing broke and nothing to fix. So they keep doing it.
posted by P.o.B. at 8:09 PM on December 17, 2010


Actually here's someone who is straight from that era and has largely changed his lyrical delivery:

LL Cool J - Rock the Bells

LL Cool J - Doin it
posted by P.o.B. at 8:19 PM on December 17, 2010


I am not comparing them to other artists; I'm not saying they are, or were, any different, or not any different, than anyone else.

I'm comparing the lyrics of their early material with which I am familiar with the lyrics of their newer material with which I am familiar. In the former case, when one line followed another, it was likely that the two lines -- and more -- would have something to do with each other. In the latter case, it is not very likely at all.
posted by Flunkie at 9:13 PM on December 17, 2010


I mean, for example, that "Fight for Your Right" was about the idea that one must fight for one's right. The entire song was clearly and obviously based on that idea, and clearly and obviously argued for it, with vignettes of significant length all illustrating why one must do so.

In contrast, what is, for example, "Intergalactic" about?

As far as I can tell, it cannot be summarized; it can only be repeated. It is about my assertion that you should not tell me to smile; that if you stick around I will make it worth your while; that I have got numbers beyond what you can dial; that I am so versatile; that I say "style profile"; that I reminisce about the song "Ooh Child"; that I run the marathon to the very last mile, apparently from the Hudson River out to the Nile. And so forth. There's no theme; there are merely random thoughts that happen to rhyme.

Perhaps, at this point, I should be clear: I really, really enjoy "Intergalactic". "Fight for Your Right"? Not so much, except some vague level of kitschy enjoyment. And that's generally the same for their newer stuff vis a vis their older stuff; I like the newer stuff a lot, while the I find the older stuff, eh, OK I guess.

But that doesn't change my opinion that, lyrically, their newer stuff seems terribly lazy, to a degree that their older stuff did not. Again, it seems like they just collect a big database of random phrases, and when they have enough that happen to rhyme, they throw them together into a verse, for no reason other than the fact that they rhyme.

And maybe you're saying that other groups are, or were, like this, too. That's fine; I'm not disputing that. It's not a point that I have been attempting to address in any way, one way or the other, nor one that I am concerned with.
posted by Flunkie at 9:28 PM on December 17, 2010


In contrast, what is, for example, "Intergalactic" about?

Well, the song is about their "style" and that it's "Intergalactic". That's the theme and style is quite a common theme in hip-hop music. "Fight for Your Right" is about partying, not rights.
Here, let me flip your argument for you. Something old that is completely random: Beastie Boys - Hold it Now
As opposed to something new which is obviously about dancing: Beastie Boys - Body Movin

If you want to say that their themes are not as literal as they used to be than I would agree, but you seem to be nitpicking at specific songs that are not representative of their other stuff. Take a look at "Sabotage", which is about someone who has broken a boundry line in a relationship but is does not really make that clear distinction for you.

It's not a point that I have been attempting to address in any way, one way or the other, nor one that I am concerned with.

I'm offering other songs to listen to as comparison so that you can understand where the BBoys come from, and if you keep dismissing this point than your going to keep flailing around with the idea that there's this huge difference in the BBoys vocals. The Beasties Boys = early 80's style. It directly informs how their lyrics are used and delivered. Like I said, listen to how they rap. They will synchopate with the beat. If that is how you formed your sentences than you would also have a pretty narrow stylistic capacity in which to deliver your rhymes.

Again, they've always disjointedly put together rhymes and their lyrics are not anymore random then they used to be. More metaphorical? Yes. Stylistically different? No.
posted by P.o.B. at 11:14 AM on December 18, 2010


P.o.B., I am aware of other groups, believe it or not. And I assure you that I do not misunderstand the point of "Fight for Your Right" to be a call to civil revolution in the name of democracy, or whatever it is you were imagining me saying.
posted by Flunkie at 1:43 PM on December 18, 2010


Imaginary?
posted by P.o.B. at 3:18 PM on December 18, 2010


Yes, P.o.B.
posted by Flunkie at 4:21 PM on December 18, 2010


LOL
posted by P.o.B. at 4:40 PM on December 18, 2010


Am I understanding you correctly that you genuinely believe that I meant to imply that "Fight for Your Right" is about civil liberties and so forth?
posted by Flunkie at 4:57 PM on December 18, 2010


Where did you get that? I'm not going to argue about hyperbole, what we said is on the page here. If you want to discuss the Beastie Boys possible erosion of artistic skills, let me know, or we can simply leave it as a disagreement.
posted by P.o.B. at 5:53 PM on December 18, 2010


I got it from:

(A) You apparently "correcting" me that FFYR is about partying, not about rights;

(B) Upon me saying that if you imagined I was arguing that it was about civil revolution in the name of democracy, you were mistaken, you linking to my post and saying "Imaginary?";

(C) Upon me saying "Yes", in response to "Imaginary?", you saying "LOL".
posted by Flunkie at 6:00 PM on December 18, 2010


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