March 24, 2015

For The Max-Approved Mixtape: Beastie Boys - "Rhymin & Stealin"



Artist: Beastie Boys
Title: "Rhymin & Stealin"
Producer: Rick Rubin, Beastie Boys
Album: Licensed To Ill (1986)

After their punk band of the same name shifted sensibilities but before the trio achieved a rare state of consciousness regarding all of the antiquated and misogynistic attitudes not just in hip hop, but also the world, the Beastie Boys (Ad-Rock, Mike D., and the late MCA) released the only full-length they would ever make for Def Jam Records, Licensed To Ill.  The label still has its meaty hooks all over this project, which is why that Criterion Collection DVD compilation of the group's videos skips over the Licensed To Ill years.  But the album just recently sold its ten-millionth copy, so obviously people are still hunting it down.

"Rhymin & Stealin" is the opening track on Licensed To Ill, and the very first thing you hear is a DJ's scratching, as though this song is a part of your regularly scheduled program already in progress.  Then the hard-as-fuck drums, lifted from Led Zeppelin's "When The Levee Breaks", kick in, followed closely by a guitar riff borrowed from Black Sabbath's "Sweet Leaf": once the Boys start passing the microphone back and forth at hyperspeed, sometimes finishing each other's words, let alone sentences, your neck already feels stiff from all of the nodding.  Sampling from good old-fashioned rock music wasn't anything new back in 1986, but for the Beasties, it helped bridge the gap between their old sound and their new shit, signifying the first real evolution in their own style, but not the last. 

"Rhymin & Stealin" serves as a warning shot for the audience: even though the Beasties were seen as frat-bro assholes thanks to their public image and their general fucking around, this song shows that they took their music seriously from the get-go, even though the only people who could ever come up with chanting "Ali Baba and the forty thieves" in the middle of their own goddamn song obviously saw through to the inherent silliness of what was going on around them.  Licensed To Ill isn't the best Beastie Boys album (*cough* Paul's Boutique *cough*), but it's still damn entertaining, and spinning this track makes you want to hear the rest of the album, which is what the first song on any project is supposed to do, right?

I include the following clip below because, even though "Rhymin & Stealin" was never officially released as a single, the Beasties still shot a performance-based official video for it, and, well, no fucking wonder a lot of hip hop heads wrote off these guys in 1986.




Do you agree or disagree with this selection?  Discuss below.

-Max

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40 comments:

  1. cosigned times a million.

    also i long for the days when it was still actually possible to sample zep and sabbath.

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    Replies
    1. Me too. Today's music sure as shit would sound a whole lot different if everyone were still able to sample freely (ish).

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    2. EPMD & Redman would still be making good music.

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  2. I like this little mixtape series, but i'm starting to miss the reviews. Max, have you heard the Raekwon song Wall To Wall yet featuring Busta and Stench Montana? just wanted to know your thoughts on it.

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    Replies
    1. The reviews haven't gone away. Think of these posts as a placeholder that will eventually build their own side thing. I haven't listened to "Wall To Wall" all the way through yet, though, so I don't have any thoughts.

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    2. Well, I have. And I think it's absolute crap.

      SO WHATCHA WHATCHA WHATCHAWAANT

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  3. Blasphemy alert: I've never liked the Beastie Boys.

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    Replies
    1. You're missing out on at least one classic album, then.

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    2. Fully aware of that fact, so thank you, o he who flatly refuses to review Public Enemy.

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    3. I'm not refusing to review Public Enemy. I refuse to let anyone ELSE review Public Enemy. There's a reason for everything, probably.

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  4. *Sigh* Please review Kendrick Lamar'sTo Pimp A Butterfly, I couldn't care less about the Beastie Boys!

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    Replies
    1. Just for that, how about I push the TPAB review back indefinitely? Why even comment if you don't care about the subject matter?

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    2. Whoops. First time I've seen Max react negatively to a heckler. Usually, you brush it off. Hope life isn't stressing you out too much.

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    3. This isn't reacting negatively, it's more of a "I've already mentioned on social media that the review was coming"-kind of thing. Patience is your friend.

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    4. Fuck you Anon there's always time for the Beasties.

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  5. No need to get salty Max but I'm sure you are aware of the impact TPAB has had since it was "accidently" released a week ago - I am just keen to read your views on the album. With regards to the Beastie Boys all I got is... "Meh".

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    Replies
    1. That's not me being salty. Trust me.

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  6. I just listened to the Led Sep song that this song sampled from. I love the drums. how many videos were shot for the songs on Licensed To Ill? I didn't know they weren't on that video compilation.

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    Replies
    1. At least five, including "(You Gotta) Fight For Your Right (To Party)", which always gets played on MTV whenever they're doing any sort of retrospective. "Paul Revere" never had an official video, and as far as I can tell, neither did "Brass Monkey" when the album first dropped.

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  7. This is probably The Beastie's fifth best album. We all know what number one is and I think Check Your Head, I'll Communication and Hello Nasty are all superior.

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  8. Man, John Bonham was a beast. His percussion work on When the Levee Breaks is amazing, making it (probably) my favourite song by Led Zep.

    Although I love the chunky reviews, I'm really enjoying those mixtape entries. They're a good opportunity to get back to albums I hadn't listened for some time or discover songs that didn't even really know (Keith Murray's Herb is Pumpin').

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  9. Fuck the Beastie Boys. And fuck Kendrick too

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    Replies
    1. You know what Tochi, fuck you too you little hater! Go suck A$AP Rocky's pee pee, like you always do

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  10. Lol. I know if Jigga had released an album early (I'm sure he did exactly that with MCHG) that would have been reviewed instantly! Oh Well.

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    Replies
    1. I obviously love Jay-Z, but his albums aren't as dense as To Pimp A Butterfly. It's not like I haven't been LISTENING to it since it dropped-slash-leaked early. Once again, patience is your friend.

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    2. Never say 'I love Jay-Z' ever again. I don't give a fuck about the adverb.

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    3. Don't be afraid of words.

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    4. Shawn Carter is an impure being undeserving of something as pure as love.

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    5. Exactly, Max you ain't Beyoncé. So get the FUCK outta here.

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  11. I was about 13 when the Beastie Boys ruled the radio with "fight for your right (to party)" , been a fan ever since. Still spin their debut regularly ... good ol' times =)

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  12. Love the Beasties.
    On a side note, will you review Slaughterhouses 2014 mixtape "House Rules"?
    It's pretty dope.

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    Replies
    1. I've been out of the Slaughterhouse loop, aside from PRhyme, so I didn't know this even existed. Any review I write won't go up until I'm done with this West Coast thing, but thanks for bringing it to my attention.

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  13. Glad to know your listening to TPAB Max!

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  14. Nice reminder that I'm still not okay with the Beastie Boys being done. Great choice, though.

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    Replies
    1. I've made my peace with it, but yeah.

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  15. Is "Max" ever going to review Kendrick Lamar's new album 'butterfly'?

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  16. Dense and Jay Z do not go together.

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    Replies
    1. Yes, that was the whole point.

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  17. Beastie Boys are wack, end of discussion.

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  18. Beasties are legends.

    NOW end of discussion.

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