Questioning how influential certain bands are is always a hot topic of discussion and disagreement. Usually the deciding factor is based on the length of time that has passed. In order for a musician to be influential, they must have changed the course of music over a certain time period; to such a degree that everything that came after can be distinctly tied to it. Case in point, The Beatles Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band is considered the most influential album to rock music; with the point being made the that in the last 50 years its influence can be heard in all kinds of music. So, using that time based theme, let's talk about another influential group: The Beastie Boys...
Many of you, especially the die hard rock fans that are reading this, will roll your eyes and proclaim that the Beastie Boys are/were more of a novelty act; adding nothing new to pop music.
Here's where I beg to differ. In the last 35 years there are blotches of Beastie all over popular music. Yes, it's been that long since Licensed to Ill was released! They innovated sampling, with their second album, Paul's Boutique, showing up on multiple lists of "Best Rap Album of All Time"; and usually at the top or near it.
They took a relatively new form of music; rap, which was still in its infancy when they hit, and added elements of rock. Then, in their later years combined it with Punk, Hardcore, Trap and just about everything else; Even Bossa Nova! Check out "I Don't Know" from 1998's Hello Nasty.
And now for the definitive time check; When Licensed to Ill was released, we were a mere 19 years removed from Sgt. Pepper's. That's right. We are twice as far away from Licensed to Ill as we were from Sgt. Pepper's when it was released.
The new documentary Beastie Boys Story, released exclusively on Apple TV, chronicles the story of those lovable idiots from New York.
, chronicles the story of those lovable idiots from New York.
Surviving members Ad-Rock (Adam Horvitz) and Mike D. (Michael Diamond) tell the story of the band in front of a live Brooklyn audience; recapping the tales from the Beastie Boy Autobiography that was released a few years ago.
They spin the story of the burgeoning New York Hardcore scene that they were initially a part off. Talking about sharing the stage with bands such as Bad Brains and Circle Jerks. Armed with just a rudimentary knowledge of hip-hop, they crossed paths with Rick Rubin and Russell Simmons to transform themselves from punks to rappers, losing original drummer (and future Luscious Jackson member) Kate Schellenbach and some friends in the process.
They paid a price to become the biggest rap artists in the world. And Ad-Rock makes a point to humble himself to his old friends without excuse.
The 2 hour documentary is paced extremely well, covering the ups and downs of a 30 year career. There's so much info about the group that many don't even know. It will bring you a new respect for them as musicians, and as people.
The heart wrenching tale of MCA's (Adam Yauch) final days, who died in 2012 of throat cancer, tears up not only Ad-Rock, but the audience as well. Mike D. and Ad-Rock are animated throughout, telling jokes, swiping at each other and director Spike Jonze, and reliving the glory days of the band with the same wild-eyed energy that they had so long ago.
Before you dismiss the Beastie's as just a novelty act, spend two hours watching this documentary. Anyone who doesn't at least come away with a modicum of respect for everything they accomplished is probably the same person who denies the influence of The Beatles.
Reconnect with the music before, during, and after the documentary.
PHOTO CREDIT: All photos used for promotional use only; ©Beastie Boys