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10 Beastie Boys Songs That Rock

Adam Yauch
Evan Agostini, Getty Images
The music world is still mourning the loss of Beastie Boys member Adam 'MCA' Yauch, who passed away on May 4, 2012 at the age of 47. The Beastie Boys’ legacy was cemented with their Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction, and it’s fitting because no rap outfit ever showed as much rock influence as the Beasties. Yauch himself was a visionary, directing many of the band’s videos under the pseudonym Nathaniel Hornblower and helping to evolve their sound to include some of their hardcore roots by picking up the bass on their 'Check Your Head' album. There’s no doubt that while they got their first taste of fame as rappers, they definitely rock and we salute them with the following list of 10 Beastie Boys Songs That Rock:


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10

'Rhymin' & Stealin''

From: ‘Licensed To Ill’ (1986)
 
 

Yes, ‘Fight for Your Right’ was the song that put the band on the musical map in ‘86, but ‘Rhymin’ & Stealin’ was the first track people would hear from ‘Licensed To Ill’ when popping their cassette in the tape player back in the day. The chugging track features a guitar sample from Black Sabbath’s ‘Sweet Leaf’ and a drum beat from Led Zeppelin's 'When the Levee Breaks.' ‘Rhymin’ & Stealin’’ showed everyone that, yes indeed, you can headbang to rap music.

 
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9

'An Open Letter to NYC'

From: ‘To The 5 Boroughs’ (2004)
 
 

The trio’s love letter to their hometown inspired by the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks also generated a great amount of love amongst Beasties fans as well. And leave it up to the Beastie Boys to make things interesting. Who would have ever thought to build a track around a sample from punk icons the Dead Boys and their hit ‘Sonic Reducer’ and pair it within the same song with a sample from crooner Robert Goulet? The Beasties, that’s who! Classic.

 
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8

'So What'cha Want'

From: ‘Check Your Head’ (1992)
 
 

After experimenting with innovative sampling on 1989's 'Paul's Boutique,' the Beastie Boys were ready to rock on 1992's ‘Check Your Head.' With the single ‘So What’cha Want,' featuring distorted vocals, full-on attitude and powerhouse drums, the Beastie Boys were announcing an air-horn warning to the rock scene that they were taking over. Speaking of those drums, Beck sampled this track for his 2005 hit ‘E-Pro.'

 
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7

‘Sure Shot’

From: ‘Ill Communication’ (1994)
 
 

For the baddest flute-rock since Jethro Tull, you need look no further than ‘Sure Shot.’ The Beastie Boys took a sample from Jeremy Steig’s ‘Howlin’ for Judy,’ added their own hardcore attitude, and blended it all together to make sure that we can’t, we won’t and we don’t stop ever wanting to hear this song.

 
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6

‘Egg Raid on Mojo’

From: ‘Some Old Bulls---’ (1994)
 
 

Before they were rappers, the Beastie Boys tried their hand as hardcore rockers but eventually tired of lugging gear up and down the stairs to MCA’s apartment to play shows. Evidence of those early hardcore days turned up on the compilation ‘Some Old Bulls---,’ which featured some of their ‘80s work. ‘Egg Raid on Mojo’ is about as punk as it comes with its fuzzed out guitars, yelling and somewhat sneering vocals, and a mosh-ready vibe that all clock in under two minutes.

 
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5

‘Heart Attack Man’

From: ‘Ill Communication’ (1994)
 
 

Speaking of moshing, there may have been no song in the Beastie Boys catalogue that inspired such audience free-for-alls as ‘Heart Attack Man.’ With Mike D. on vocals, MCA laying down a sick bass line, and Ad-Rock pounding on the guitar as fast as he could before frequently smashing his instrument to bits after performances, this one was made for the pit dwellers.

 
Licensed to Ill.jpg
4

‘(You Gotta) Fight for Your Right (To Party)’

From: ‘Licensed To Ill’ (1986)
 
 

This youth rebellion anthem is a straight-up classic, with its opening guitar lick and the declaration to “Kick it!” It’s still a favorite at rock radio and you can hear it some 26 years later blaring at sporting events. There may be no greater testament to its staying power than the star-studded 2011 ‘Fight for Your Right Revisited’ short film directed by Adam Yauch and featuring a star-studded case of actors including with everyone from Will Ferrell, Jack Black, John C. Reilly, Elijah Wood and others.

 
Check Your Head.jpg
3

‘Gratitude’

From: ‘Check Your Head’ (1992)
 
 

The Beastie Boys showed everyone a thing or two about how to use a distortion pedal with the classic track ‘Gratitude.’ Ad-Rock’s in-your-face vocals are perfectly complimented by a heavily distorted MCA bass line and funky drumming from Mike D. About the only un-rock thing from this song was Ad-Rock’s fuzzy Kangol from the video, but it was the ‘90s.

 
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2

‘No Sleep Till Brookyn’

From: ‘Licensed To Ill’ (1986)
 
 

The Beastie Boys rapped on this track, but you could see rock producer Rick Rubin’s influence all over this classic. The song pulls loosely from AC/DC’s ‘T.N.T.’ and Rubin snagged Slayer’s Kerry King to lay down the memorable guitar solo on the track. Despite the emphasis on rap early in their career, the Beastie Boys ‘No Sleep Till Brooklyn’ remains a favorite at rock radio years later.

 
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1

‘Sabotage’

From: ‘Ill Communication’ (1994)
 
 

How’s this for rock? The Beastie Boys’ ‘Sabotage’ was deemed one of the five most dangerous tracks for drivers in a survey conducted last year. Those surveyed likely saw their blood pressure rise from Ad-Rock’s face-melting vocals and Yauch's punishing bass line, while the adrenaline-filled nature of ‘Sabotage’ led them to put the pedal to the metal. ‘Nuff said.

 

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