The 50 Greatest Hip-Hop Songs of All Time

19

Beastie Boys, 'Paul Revere'

beastie boys

Licensed to Ill, 1986

Michael "Mike D" Diamond remembers when Adam "MCA" Yauch hit on the squishy beat that propels this crackling single – by running the tape backward. "We were as giddy as kids, yelling in the studio," Diamond says. "It was the simplest idea, and he killed it." The lyrics are a fictional spaghetti-Western-style account of how the Beasties met, recounted by Adam "Ad-Rock" Horovitz as Diamond and Yauch butt in and out with argumentative glee – a prime example of the Beasties' frisky interplay. One rhyme about a girl and "a Wiffle-ball bat" got them in hot water for misogyny. The Beasties would back off from that kind of verse as they matured. But they performed "Paul Revere" right to the end: at Bonnaroo in 2009, Yauch's last show before his passing this year.

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