Ranked: Beastie Boys

[Photo Courtesy of GQ]

By: Adrian Woods Contributor

Starting off as a punk band, Beastie Boys would transform into a hip-hop sensation and blend the two genres. In the 30 years of making music together, Beastie Boys would become one of the most influential and groundbreaking groups of all time. 

The Beastie Boys had a new creative evolution with every new album they released. With this, I thought it would be fun to rank the Beastie Boys studio album discography (Not including The Mix Up because that is a fully instrumental album).

7. To The 5 Boroughs (2004)

To The 5 Boroughs is the only Beastie Boys album that is not better than good. Not to say that there aren’t great songs on the album, “Ch-Check It Out” is a great opener, “Right Right Now Now” has some of the best flows and lyricism on the album. The song, “An Open Letter To NYC” was a big hug that a post 9/11 New York City needed to be given. The main issue with the record is that it doesn’t have that much of a creative voice to it that other Beastie Boys albums have, making a lot of the tracks blend into each other, but even so, it’s still worth the listen. 

6. Hot Sauce Committee Pt.2 (2011)

Hot Sauce Committee Pt.2 was a great way for the Beastie Boys to go out for their final album. Once again, the intro track “Make Some Noise” is not only one of the best Beastie Boys openers, but one of the best Beastie Boys songs in general. The collaboration with rap legend Nas and, at the time, a young up and coming Santigold added so much to the tracks they were on. The chorus by Santigold on “Don’t Play No Game That I Can’t Win” is encapsulating, and Nas’s feature on “Too Many Rappers” is great because he is just one of the best to ever do it in the rap game. The album sounds like they put a modern take on one of their older records, especially Hello Nasty with the futuristic and electronic sound that is throughout the album, and it sounds great. Even if the album isn’t filled with bangers front to back, it’s still a fantastic sendoff for the group.

5. Check Your Head (1992)

Although many of the ideas on Check Your Head would be improved upon on Ill Communication, that doesn’t mean that the album wasn’t a milestone in the Beastie Boys catalog. If License To Ill brought rock and roll into hip hop, then Check Your Head brought punk into the genre. Songs like “So What’Cha Want”, “Gratitude” and “Time For Livin’” were prime examples of the genres mixing and becoming one. This punk feeling carries on throughout the majority of the album, even if towards the backside some songs seem to blend into each other. 

4. Hello Nasty (1998)

The most experimental and personal favorite album of the Beastie Boys themselves, Hello Nasty is filled with fuzzy, electronic and even robotic beats that makes for an intriguing and fun listening experience. Of course, “Intergalactic” is a classic in the Beastie Boys career, but this being the longest album from the group, there are a lot of hidden gems on this record. “Remote Control” and “Super Disco Breakin’” are futuristic sounding tunes that’ll make you want to get up and dance. “Song For The Man” is the Beastie Boys most underrated song, it’s one of their best written songs, and it’s not even a hip hop song. It was an anthem for Anti-Street Harassment against women written by MCA, which is something that might have not been expected because of the songs on License To Ill being so heavy about girls. The long instrumentals on the second half of the album are far more interesting than the ones on Check Your Head, and will keep you engrossed in the whole listening experience.

3. License To Ill (1986)

The album that started it all. This rap-rock infused, frat-party-background tracklist kickstarted the Beasties career with a bang. Any one of the songs on License To Ill could be the adrenaline shot a party needs, with hit after hit on the record including “Girls”, “Fight For Your Right”, “No Sleep Till Brooklyn”, “Paul Revere” and many more. This album was a changing of the times for both rock and hip hop that both genres didn’t know they needed. It may be a bit one dimensional sure, but the fun lyrics and rocking instrumentals will keep you entertained.

2. Ill Communication (1994)

It seems like the Beastie Boys took anything they weren’t satisfied with on Check Your Head and they improved it to the max. Ill Communication is the most genre bending album the Beastie Boys ever made, the variety of sound on this album is mind bending, especially with how well it works off each other. From the punk energy on “Sabotage” and “B-Boys Makin’ With The Freak Freak”, the jazz beats on “Do It” and “Sabrosa”, the flute solos on “Sure Shot” and “Flute Loop” and even chanting Buddhist Monks on “Shambala” and “Bodhisattva Vow”, Ill Communication is an album that is filled to the brim with vast creativity that would carry on on future albums.

1. Pauls Boutique (1989)

Not only is Pauls Boutique one of the best hip hop albums from the 1980’s, but it’s one of the greatest albums ever made. This album is the king of creative use of samples. The diversity of samples used on this album is phenomenal. Whether it’s a funky Sly and the Family Stone beat on “3-Minute Rule”, a smooth Eagles bassline on “High Plains Drifter” or even a rock-oriented Beatles sample on “The Sound Of Science”, it fits in perfectly with the rest of the tracks. The Beastie Boys work off each other better than any other album with their near flawless rhythm and all time creative rhymes. The group reinvented themselves for the first of many times, and this was hands down their best album.

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