In 1989, few people imagined that the bratty trio who took "You Gotta Fight for Your Right" to the Top 10 would do more than try — and fail — to replicate the success of Licensed to Ill. Instead, Ad-Rock, Mike D. and MCA hunkered down in the hills of Los Angeles, played dress-up in a lot of Seventies clothes and emerged with their greatest album — a high-water mark of hip-hop's golden age of sampling. With the Dust Brothers production team serving as the Beasties' George Martin, Paul's Boutique became a dense, dizzying collision of lyrical references — mentions of Dylan and Jelly Roll Morton, quotes from Dr. Seuss and Hunter S. Thompson — spliced with snippets from across the music spectrum: Afrika Bambaataa, Funkadelic, Johnny Cash and the Eagles.
This 20th-anniversary reissue is a remastered version of the original; "Shake Your Rump" sounds deeper and bigger, and the drum loop on "Looking Down the Barrel of a Gun" has extra kick and echo. There are no extra tracks, but hardcore fans should be sure to download the free hour-long audio commentary, which offers rambling insight into album characters like Johnny Ryall. What anybody can appreciate: the long shadow this hip-hop masterpiece casts, from Beck to Girl Talk to mash-up culture and beyond.