10 Greatest Beastie Boys Songs


Black and white image of Beastie Boys.

Beastie Boys – Story by Anne Erickson, photo by Phil Andelman (via Nasty Little Man PR)

What are the greatest Beastie Boys songs of all time? In honor of the rap-rock of the Beasties, here’s Audio Ink Radio’s list

Beastie Boys were one of the founding fathers of rap-rock. Before the Beasties, rock music and live rock instrumentation rarely coincided with rap vocals. The two worlds were separate, but the Beastie Boys put them together and created some of the most memorable rock music of their era. So, what are the greatest Beastie Boys songs of all time?

Beastie Boys first got together in New York City in 1981. The band featured vocalist and drummer Michael “Mike D” Diamond, vocalist and bass player Adam “MCA” Yauch and vocalist and guitarist Adam “Ad-Rock” Horovitz. It may be hard to believe, but the Beastie Boys actually earned the first rap record to ever go to No. 1 on the Billboard 200 chart with their debut album, 1986’s “Licensed to Ill.” Today, the Beastie Boys are still the best-selling rap outfit since Billboard starting tallying sales in 1991. They were also inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2012.

To pay tribute to these rap-rock pioneers, Audio Ink Radio presents its list of the 10 best Beastie Boys songs of all time. Add to the conversation by contacting us via social media.

10. “Sure Shot”

“Sure Shot” marks the first song on the Beastie Boys’ fourth album, “Ill Communication.” The track features a ton of pop-culture references and is quite biting. Perhaps it’s tracks like these, with such fiery pop-culture allusions, that inspired a young Eminem to start rhyming, as he’s often stated.

9. “Make Some Noise”

The Beastie Boys continued to release music up until the sad death of MCA in 2012. One of their last songs was truly one of their greatest, “Make Some Noise,” off 2011’s “Hot Sauce Committee Part Two.” What’s extra cool is that the music video for “Make Some Noise” is a sequel to the music video for the Beastie Boys’ iconic 1987 single “(You Gotta) Fight for Your Right (To Party!)”.

8. “Paul Revere”

“Paul Revere,” off 1986’s “Licensed to Ill,” tells the fictional tale of how the Beastie Boys met. It’s a colorful story and makes for an entertaining listen. The story revolves around Ad-Rock riding through the desert on a horse named Paul Revere, and craziness ensues.

7. “Hey Ladies”

“Hey Ladies” is such a bundle of creativity. The song samples songs by Deep Purple, Commodores, Kool & The Gang and James Brown, making it a head-spinning listen. How do the Beastie Boys make it all come together and somehow make sense? Who knows, but it works.

6. “Brass Monkey”

“Brass Monkey” rarely seems to make “best-of lists,” but it deserves to be recognized as one of the best Beastie Boys songs of all time. The track is off the Beastie Boys’ mammoth debut, “Licensed to Ill,” so it often gets lost amid massive hits such as “No Sleep Till Brooklyn” and “Fight for Your Right.” But, “Brass Money” is a solid jam. The track samples “Bring It Here” by Wild Sugar and features scratchy, catchy beats.

5. “So What’cha Want'”

Off 1992’s “Check Your Head,” “So What’cha Want'” plays like a song from a band that has a chip on its shoulder. Not that they did, but it’s the aggressive, powerhouse delivery that makes one think, “Let’s not mess with these guys.” The song also samples “Just Rhymin’ With Biz” by Big Daddy Kane featuring Biz Markie and “I’ve Been Watching You” by Southside Movement.

4. “Intergalactic”

“Intergalactic” was a later hit for Beastie Boys, as it’s featured on their fifth studio album, 1998’s “Hello Nasty.” The track scored a Grammy Award for Best Rap Performance by a Duo or Group. Moreover, it offers some trippy cosmic sonics and robotic vocals, making this a truly futuristic treat.

3. “(You Gotta) Fight for Your Right (To Party!)”

There’s something inherently upbeat and light-hearted about Beastie Boys’ rap jams, and “Fight for Your Right” is the pinnacle of that aura. The single, off “Licensed to Ill,” single is simply about wanting to keep partying, and it actually stirred up some controversy. At the time it was released, some radio stations didn’t play it. But, in the end, the Beasties got their way, and the eternal party was theirs. Today, “Fight for Your Right” is one of their biggest hits and one of the best Beastie Boys songs.

2. “Sabotage”

As a bass player, I’m blown away by the contagious bass lines in “Sabotage.” With its funky bass line, turntable scratches and Ad-Rock’s spastic vocals, “Sabotage” is an attention-getter. What’s more, the song came later in Beastie Boys’ career, as it arrived on 1994’s “Ill Communication.” Its mix of punk and old-school rap is riveting, and at just under three minutes long, this song was and is perfect for radio.

1. “No Sleep Till Brooklyn”

From the opening cry of, “No sleep ’till…Brooklyn!” to its funky riffing, this song is one of Beastie Boys’ most recognizable. The track, off “Licensed to Ill,” came with some big names, too. Def Jam Records co-founder and band collaborator Rick Rubin produced this gem, along with the rest of the album. Moreover, Slayer’s Kerry King lent a heavy riff to the track. The song pays tribute to Yauch’s hometown across the East River and temps listeners to stay in party mode forever. For its longevity and influence, “No Sleep Till Brooklyn” earns the No. 1 spot on our list of the greatest Beastie Boys songs of all time.

Beastie Boys were noisy, but they weren’t a noise-rock band. Find Audio Ink Radio’s list of the best noise rock bands of all time here.

Anne Erickson
Posted by Anne Erickson | Alternative, Features, Music, Rock

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