Skip to content

Beastie Boys Celebrate 25 Years; Their Comeback Will Work

Fortunately and unfortunately, hip-hop got a major boost of legitimacy in the mainstream realm when the bombastic Beastie Boys burst through the bastion of black music a quarter century ago.

The pyrotechnic single, “Fight for your Right to Party,” is still considered one of the greatest rap songs of all time and introduced the burgeoning rap genre to scores of music lovers. And now they are coming out with a new album and remake of the classic cut that’s accompanied with a highly-entertaining video with Hollywood A-listers.

But if you’re awaiting for the class clown version of Beastie Boys to reemerge, you need to pump your brakes a little bit. The trio has expanded their musical horizons and stretched their sound into different territories, which should enhance their chances of survival in today’s volatile terrain.

Music critic Todd “Stereo” Williams believes the newest incarnation of the Beastie Boys has a better chance of wedging themselves into relevance than the firecracker, “frat boy” version that rocketed them to success in the 1980s. “People don’t realize how talented they are,” says the founder, who then mentioned their party image that became legendary.

“I think they abandoned all that and really became innovators in their later music in the ’90s. I think there is still a place for that. It will be in a different realm, like Beck — that alternative, quirky music, eclectic music,” Stereo Williams continues. “The other thing, because they are white, most white rappers today have to be super-lyricists [like Eminem]. The sting of Vanilla Ice lingers on. I think if they came out today with their sort of crazy, frat boy image, I think people would be less open to that.”

Not that the Beastie Boys will abandon the recipe of what made them famous altogether. Rolling Stone music critic Rob Sheffield praises the Beastie Boys‘ long-awaited Hot Sauce Committee Part Two, saying that “the Beasties sound exactly like themselves, cutting loose without straining to fit anyone else’s idea of relevance.”

Which is Williams’ point precisely. They will do as they please, infusing jazz and rock into their sound, and it’s working. And based upon their newest video, in which they parodied their younger selves, they have retained their charisma and ability to capture your attention. There is indeed a place for a group like the Beastie Boys in today’s realm.terry shropshire