Although the Beastie Boys’ influence on N.W.A should be obvious — their first track on N.W.A. and the Posse, “8-Ball,” starts with a callout to “Brass Monkey” — Ice Cube recently recalled how much the New York trio meant to him early on in an interview with Mike D on Beats 1 on Apple Music. His fandom was solidified with the Licensed to Ill track “Paul Revere,” and he liked that song so much that he and the rest of N.W.A used to perform it with different lyrics early on.
“‘Paul Revere’ just changed our life,” he said in the interview, which will air on Mike D’s Echo Chamber show at 6 p.m. ET on Sunday. “This is how we knew our style would work. We did a version of ‘Paul Revere’ at a show and the crowd went crazy. We changed the words, made it dirty, made it ours, and the crowd went crazy, and we knew, OK, this was our style. … Salt ‘N Pepa was on the show. They had a hit song called ‘I’ll Take Your Man’, but we wrecked the show that night and we did better than Salt ‘N Pepa doing a rendition of ‘Paul Revere.’ Perfectly produced, perfectly written, perfectly rapped record, ‘Paul Revere.'”
Cube went deeper on his Beasties’ fandom — and the trio’s influence on him — elsewhere in the interview. At one point, he references a song he recorded with his pre-N.W.A group C.I.A. (which, fun fact, also featured Cube’s Death Certificate co-producer Sir Jinx) called “My Posse.” “You had a big influence on us, especially our early records,” he said. “I don’t know if you heard a record called ‘My Posse.’ Oh, my God. You’d be like, ‘Those kids are biting us. They’re biting the Beastie Boys.'”
And he discussed how Dr. Dre was inspired by the beats the Beasties made with Rick Rubin on Licensed to Ill, especially “Hold It Now, Hit It.” The vibe on that song, the rapper said, helped give N.W.A the confidence they needed to take on the world. “That ‘Hold It Now’ 808 [drum machine] was, it was wrecked out here,” Cube said. “Straight up. Like you put that on, it’s wrecking the party. Dre was a DJ, so any of these records that moved the crowd like that were influential on what we were doing and what we were putting together, because I mean all that is opening us up to saying we ain’t got to conform to shit. Let’s just talk about what’s going on around here. And if we just locals, we going to be locals that’s known around here. And that’s good enough. And once we made that decision, we became superstars.”
The episode also features a guest appearance by A Tribe Called Quest’s Q-Tip, who discusses the 25th anniversary of the Beastie Boys’ Ill Communication with Mike D and how he wound up on “Get It Together.”