Friday, April 13, 2012

217 Licenced to Ill

Album: Licensed to ill
Artist: The Beastie Boys
Year: 1986
Genre: Hip Hop


  1. Rhymin & Stealin
  2. The New Style
  3. She's Crafty
  4. Posse in Effect
  5. Slow Ride
  6. Girls
  7. (You Gotta) Fight for Your Right (To Party)
  8. No Sleep Till Brooklyn
  9. Paul Revere
  10. Hold It, Now Hit It
  11. Brass Monkey
  12. Slow and Low
  13. Time to Get Ill

The Beastie Boys career path is a long and strange one. They began as a bog-standard punk band that shouted their rebellion to an apathetic audience who couldn't care less. A career left-turn saw them become hip hop heroes playing rap but with guitar solos and Led Zep samples. Then they somehow managed to mature their sound and their image and take hip-hop into places nobody had seen it go before while they embraced a huge variety of musical genres and lyrics that supported activism and Freedom for Tibet. Career wise it's impossible to know where they're going to go next and what they'll do when they get there.

Licence to ill captures the Beastie Boys before they became the Beastie Men and sees them in full, hip hop party mode. Apparently it was originally supposed to be entitled Don't be a Faggot which sort of sums up their mind view at the time. It's rap with a catchy chorus. When I was growing up You gotta fight for your right to Party was something of an anthem amongst my friends who learnt every word and used to sing it often thinking they were cool (they weren't, they were lame, unlike my own ability to sing Monty Python songs which I'm sure was a James Dean level of coolness). A lot of my classmate's idea of fun was to start a chant in the playground (or in class if they were more daring). One would yell "You gotta fight!" and the rest would join in with "For your right!" and then everyone would scream "To paaaaarrtaaaaa!" at the top of voice. This would sate them for a few minutes until someone would inevitably do it again.

The Beastie Boys have since claimed their mega-hit was actually a cunning satire of party songs. They've tried to convince the world that Fight for the Right was originally written as a clever pastiche of hedonistic anthems and that they were making a statement about mindless juvinile celebration rather than trying to contribute to its soundtrack. It's a cute part of their attempt to reinvent themselves as serious musicians but if you look back on the song (and it's subsequent video clip) it's a hard claim to back up. If Fight for your Right is satire then ACDC can claim every subsequent album is a send-up of their first one. It's replication and their claim that they were secretly laughing at everyone who shouted it at frat parties looks a bit thin.

Like a lot of hip hop from the era, Licensced to ill is a product of it's time that has dated badly. It comes from an age before Hip Hop learnt to take itself seriously and would be a bit of a joke if it's creators hadn't been among the fore runners of rap's reinvention.

Highlight: The first time you hear You gotta fight for your right
Lowlight: Every other time you hear it (especially shouted by other people)

Influenced by: Grandmaster Flash
Influenced: Teenage boys on another continent.

Favourite Amazon Customer Review Quote: Ladies, if you see this in your boyfriend's CD collection or you see it in his car on your first date, run. Fast!

-Interesting dating advice.

So do you feel it's necessary to engage in combat of some kind to preserve your entitlement to merriment? Or is that just crap? Let me know below.

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