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10 great Beastie Boys videos

May 4, 2012

The shocking news of Adam Yauch‘s death has left us all kind of shell shocked at Death and Taxes. We typically deal with our grief through nostalgia, and we welcome you to join us. Here are 10 great Beastie Boys clips that offer a quick timeline of their career. Or thoughts are with Adam Yauch’s family and friends, as well as B-Boys and B-Girls all over the world.

“Holy Snappers”

The Beastie Boys formed at the tail end of 1979 as a New York hardcore punk band. The group consisted of Michael Diamond on vocals, John Berry on guitar, future Luscious Jackson founder Kate Schellenbach on drums, and Adam Yauch on bass. They weren’t exactly the most loved group around, even with the replacement of Berry with Young and the Useless guitarist Adam Horovitz, but they had stamina and pep. Years after becoming a hip-hop outfit, the group touched base again with their punk roots, resuming their roles (with the addition of Amery Smith on drums) and made one of the only effectively awesome merges of rap and punk on songs like “Tough Guy,” “Heart-Attack Man,” and the Frontline/Sly Stone mashup “Time For Livin’”.  -Doug Bleggi

“Cooky Puss”

“Cooky Puss” may sound like a throwaway experiment at first listen, but the song has an important place in the Beastie Boys canon—after British Airways used a portion of the B-side “Beastie Revolution” in a commercial without asking, the band successfully sued B.A. for $40,000. They used this money to rent an apartment in the Lower East Side, at 59 Christie Street. It was to be the first big money the group would get their hands on.  -Ned Hepburn

“Fight For Your Right”

“Fight For Your Right” was to the Beastie Boys what “Creep” was to Radiohead, another band initially derided for seemingly having only one breakout song. The song is first and foremost a parody of itself—try listening to it now knowing it’s a goof on mid 1980s frat-boy culture. It was such a good parody, however, that the band soon were typecast by not just the sound but also by the party-centric video. They soon found they were in an image that they couldn’t break free from — it was this typecasting that led them to create perhaps their best work three years later.  -Ned Hepburn

“Shake Your Rump”

Back when MCA had a beard like a billy goat, the Beasties were still cocky as hell, but they had greatly improved upon the frat-boy fun house grooves of “Licensed to Ill.” Signing to Capitol and moving to L.A., the Boys teamed up with fledgling production group The Dust Brothers for their second  full length album LP. “Paul’s Boutique” would become one of the greatest installments in the world of sampling  – with its heavy layers of funk, R&B and rock, it was the backdrop for some of the most cutting and hilarious lines ever spit by a group of New York MCs. -Doug Bleggi

“So What’cha Want”

After the commercial failure of “Paul’s Boutique,” the Beasties remained unfazed. Taking a break and then reconvening with producer Mario Caldato Jr, (an engineer on the “Paul’s” sessions), the group started toying with a live band setup, with Yauch and Horovitz reclaiming their bass and guitar respectively while Mike D took a seat behind the trap kit. Along with Keyboard Money Mark Nishita and a handful of percussionists, the band jammed out on some ’70s style grooves inspired by their previous record’s sample sources. That mixed with a new found desire for positive lyrics resulted in “Check Your Head,” their first of several albums that played like a party with a bunch of friends and collaborators falling in and out of the sessions. “So What’cha Want” represented one of the best merges of their live band sound and their hip-hop chops, complete with a classic Biz Markie refrain. -Doug Bleggi

“Sabotage”

The Beastie Boys have a slew of iconic music videos, but still their most notorious might be this Spike Jonze clip where their faces were all obscured by aviator sunglasses and goofy facial hair. The still laugh-out-loud  “Sabotage” attacked on all fronts — not only was it a side splitting and exciting photoplay, but it was also heightened considerably by one of their most badass songs, riding MCA’s distorted bass runs and a dramatic Mike D drum break. -Doug Bleggi

“Sure Shot”

Now fully re-established as conscious rappers, the Beastie Boys were the poster boys of Gen-X hip-hop. “Sure Shot” fired out from their fourth album “Ill Communication” like a pointed mission statement — everything from their love of vinyl to their respect for humanity was addressed in its quick rock-inspired structure. Their new self-imposed responsibilities led to the founding of the Tibetan Freedom Concert in 1996, spearheaded by Adam Yauch’s conversion to Buddhism. -Doug Bleggi

“Intergalactic”

“Intergalactic” was a return to form for the Beastie Boys. Despite critical and commercial success, the sound of the band had shifted from the sophomoric “Fight For Your Right To Party” days to the heady jam sessions of their mid ’90s sound. “Intergalactic” managed to bridge the two sounds without pledging allegiance to either; it’s silly enough (scratching robot sounds, anyone?) yet hard enough (the anthemic chorus) to appeal to every Beastie connoisseur. The trio’s acrobatic wordplay is second to none here; while it might be ultimately dismissed as a catchy pop song, there’s a lot here that’s emblematic of just why the Beasties were so lovable in the first place. Video directed by Nathaniel Hornblower (aka MCA). -Ned Hepburn

“Ch-Check It Out”

After a six year absence, the Beasties returned with a strictly hip-hop record, “To the 5 Boroughs,” in 2004. That record’s opening track “Ch-Check it Out” was classic Beastie Boys, and possibly the best rendition of that song (despite its censored form) was their summer appearance on “The Late Show with David Letterman,” where they emerged from a New York subway terminal and rapped all the way into the Ed Sullivan Theater (shot through the same fish-eye lens style seen 14 years earlier in the “Shake Your Rump” video). Check out MCA leading the charge. -Doug Bleggi

“Make Some Noise”

When the Beasties released the epic 29 minute “Make Some Noise” video in April of 2011, it featured a who’s-who of anyone’s cool list, with cameos from almost every working actor worth mentioning (see if you can spot Steve Buscemi, Susan Sarandon, Jason Schwatzman, and Chloë Sevigny). The album “Hot Sauce Comittee Pt. 2″ was perhaps the most cohesive statement the band had released since “Pauls Boutique”. It’s a stunning mix of hip-hop, funk, and punk sensibilities and, fittingly, it’s also what appears to be the band’s last album. -Ned Hepburn

Bonus Track

For their long awaited follow-up “The Mix Up,” the Beasties unveiled “Hot Sauce Committee, Pt. 2″ through a live stream presented from an amped boombox located at center court of  Madison Square Garden, a place Yauch and the Boys frequented many times over the years.

Yeah, you can’t front on that.

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