100 Greatest Artists

77

Beastie Boys

Illustration by Anita Kunz

By Darryl "DMC" McDaniels

In the early days of rap, the conventional wisdom was that only black people were supposed to like hip-hop and only white people were supposed to like rock. But it wasn't like that. In Run-DMC, we were rapping over rock beats. The Beasties were a punk band listening to hip-hop.

I met the Beastie Boys in Rick Rubin's dorm room at NYU. What bugged me out about the Beasties was that they knew everything about hip-hop — the Cold Crush Brothers, the Treacherous Three and Afrika Bambaataa, all the old-school shit. In addition, they could rap, they could sing and they could play instruments.

Run-DMC gave "Slow and Low" to the Beastie Boys. The song was basically their blueprint. But then they started writing anita kunztheir own rhymes, and when Licensed to Ill came out, it went to Number One. They were writing songs we wished we had written, like "No Sleep Till Brooklyn." They put rock with rap like we did, but it made so much sense when they did it because they were punk rockers.

The first time we toured with the Beastie Boys was the Raising Hell tour in 1986: Run-DMC, Whodini, LL Cool J and the Beastie Boys. We were playing the Deep South — Crunkville, before there was crunk — and it was just black people at those shows. The first night was somewhere in Georgia, and we were thinking, "I hope people don't leave when they see them." But the crowd loved them, because they weren't trying to be black rappers. They rapped about shit they knew about: skateboarding, going to White Castle, angel dust and television. Real recognizes real.

One of the most significant things about the Beasties is their longevity. They've put out genius records for decades. When Paul's Boutique came out, it didn't sell as well as their debut. Now people realize it's one of the best albums of the Eighties.

Each of the Beastie Boys has a different personality. Mike D is the examiner: He looks around, he takes in all the information, he's a little laid-back. MCA was always the mature one, but he could be a fool when it was time to be a fool. And Ad-Rock is just full of life. He's approachable, affectionate and funny. But maybe my favorite thing about the Beastie Boys is that they're worldly. They taught me and many other people a lot about life, people and music.

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