1994: The 40 Best Records From Mainstream Alternative's Greatest Year

Green Day, Nirvana, Pearl Jam and 35 other bands who made the word "alternative" lose all meaning

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Beastie Boys, 'Ill Communication'
Courtesy of Capitol Records10/40

10. Beastie Boys, 'Ill Communication'

The first (and maybe only) record where the Beastie Boys felt comfortable being Adam, Adam and Mike — none of the beer-spraying slapstick of Licensed to Ill, none of the clever Wikipedia carpet-bombing of Paul's Boutique, none of the feeling-around-our-instruments reinvention of Check Your Head. The moral center of Ill Communication was Adam "MCA" Yauch, who side-stepped rap brags in order to admit to his grey hairs, take responsibility for his misogynist missteps and talk about quitting cheeba. The trio just explored anything that was going through their heads: vintage New York hardcore ("Tough Guy"), mic-passing cyphers with Q-Tip ("Get It Together") or Tibetan Buddhist chants ("Bodhisatta Vow)." Was their first Number One record since 1987 an act of brilliant curation? "I think we are creative, but in terms of being masterminds, no," Ad-Rock told Rolling Stone in 1994. "We're just making some music we like." Christopher R. Weingarten

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