Beastie Boys: Hip Hop or Rock?

With hits like No Sleep Till Brooklyn, Sabotage, and Paul Revere the Beastie Boys owned the music of the party scene throughout the late 80s and early 90s. Originally from New York, Michael “Mike D” Diamond, Adam “MCA” Yauch, and Adam “Ad-Rock” Horovitz established what they hoped would become the greatest hip hop group of the decade…. The Beastie Boys. The group definitely achieved more fame and fortune than they had hoped but can they really claim to only fit into the hip hop scene?

Formed in 1981 the Beastie Boys began their musical career in the Lower East Side punk scene. However, as hip hop grew in popularity they released an experimental hip hop EP in 1983. With the money from the release Ad-Rock bought an 808 drum set thus launching the group’s rap career. 

In 1986, Beastie Boys reached mainstream fame with the release of their album License to Ill. The album contained hits like Fight For Your Right, No Sleep till Brooklyn, Paul Revere, and Brass Monkey. Together these tracks and more produced what is arguably one of the best albums of all time! Don’t believe me? Sit down, close your eyes and listen to the album in its entirety. If that does not make you want to get up and party, I don’t know what will! 

License to Ill embodies the musical mashup that was the Beastie Boys. Some tracks utilized jazzy guitar riffs, driving drums, and the classical punk style of vocals.  Fight For Your Right indisputably has that late 80s angry teenager vibe that can only be found in rock. Immediately following is No Sleep till Brooklyn which encompasses the same driving guitar, classic punk chord structures, and killer bass. However; the lyrics and vocal composition is undeniably that of hip hop. Finally, the album holdest one of the truest hip hop tracks outside of Run DMC: Paul Revere. The song is composed of classic beat-box style tracks topped with rapping from Mike D and Ad-Rock. The hip hop vibe is complete with the scratching of a record within the background. 

So what is this party rock group really? Are the Beastie Boys hip hop or rock? Honestly, I think the answer is pretty clear…they are both. The Beastie Boys are undeniably masters of multiple genres. Or maybe they don’t qualify in any genre and instead created their own self-titled classification.