Beastie Boys is an American hip hop group from Brooklyn, New York. The group consists of Mike D (Michael Diamond), MCA (Adam Yauch) and Ad-Rock (Adam Horovitz).
The Beastie Boys began as a hardcore punk group in 1981, first appearing on the compilation cassette “New York Thrash” with “Riot Fight” and “Beastie,” and later released their first EP, “Polly Wog Stew,” in 1982. After achieving moderate local success with the 1983 release of their experimental hip hop 12 inch “Cooky Puss” they made the transition to hip hop in 1984. The Beastie Boys released a string of successful 12 inch singles prior to releasing their debut album “Licensed to Ill” in 1986 which received international critical acclaim and commercial success. “Licensed to Ill” became the bestselling rap album of the 1980s and the first rap album to reach #1 on the Billboard 200 Albums chart, where it stayed for five weeks. It also reached #2 on the Billboard R&B Albums chart. It was Def Jam's fastest selling debut record to date and sold over five million copies, eventually being certified 9× platinum by the RIAA. The first single from the album, “(You Gotta) Fight for Your Right (To Party!),” reached #7 on the Billboard Hot 100 Singles chart.
After the success of “Licensed to Ill,” the Beastie Boys parted ways with Def Jam and signed with Capitol Records. The group matured with their second album, “Paul's Boutique,” which was produced by the Dust Brothers and Matt Dike. Recorded in 1988, this extremely sample-heavy opus is still considered one of the strongest works by the Beastie Boys. The album was released in 1989 but failed to match the sales of “Licensed to Ill,” reaching #14 on the Billboard 200 and #10 on the Billboard R&B chart. The lead single, “Hey Ladies,” reached #36 on the Billboard 100 and #10 on the R&B chart. “Paul's Boutique” would eventually sell one million albums, while being certified 2× platinum by the RIAA.
The follow-up album, “Check Your Head,” was recorded in the band's own G-Son studio in Atwater Village, California and released on its Grand Royal record label. The band was influenced to play instruments on this album by Dutch group Urban Dance Squad, with Mike D on drums, Yauch on bass, Horovitz on guitar and Mark Ramos Nishita (“Keyboard Money Mark”) on keyboards. “Check Your Head” was released in 1992 and went 2× platinum in the U.S., reaching a peak of #10 on the Billboard 200. The single “So What'cha Want” reached #93 on the Billboard 100 and made both the urban and modern rock charts while the album's first single “Pass the Mic” became a hit in dance clubs. “Check Your Head” earned the group a Grammy Award nomination in 1992 for Best Rap Performance by a Duo or Group.
“Ill Communication,” released in 1994, saw the Beastie Boys' return to the top of the charts when the album debuted at #1 on the Billboard 200 and peaked at #2 on the R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart. The single “Sabotage” became a hit on the Billboard Modern Rock Tracks chart and was nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Hard Rock Performance in 1995. The second single, “Get It Together” reached the Top 10 of the Billboard Dance chart.
“The In Sound From Way Out!,” a collection of previously released jazz and funk instrumentals, was released on Grand Royal in 1996 with the title and artwork an homage to an album by electronic pop music pioneers Perrey and Kingsley.
Beastie Boys returned to New York City in 1997 to produce and record the album “Hello Nasty.” The album displayed a substantial shift in musical feel, with the addition of Mix Master Mike, who added to the Beasties' sound with his kinetic DJ style. Released in 1998, “Hello Nasty” went straight to #1 in the U.S. and several other countries around the world. The 3× certified platinum album took home two awards at the 1999 Grammys, in the categories of Best Alternative Music Album and Best Rap Performance by a Duo or Group for “Intergalactic”. This was the first and, to date, only time that a band had won awards in both rap and alternative categories.
Beastie Boys released “The Sounds of Science,” a two-LP anthology of their works in 1999. It reached #19 on the Billboard 200 and #14 on the R&B/Hip Hop chart. The one new song on the release, the single “Alive,” reached #11 on the Billboard Modern Rock chart. “Alive” received a Grammy Award nomination for Best Rap Performance by a Duo or Group in 2001.
“To the 5 Boroughs,” released in 2004, was the first album the Beastie Boys produced themselves and reached #1 on the Billboard 200. The first single from the album, “Ch-Check It Out,” reached #1 on the Billboard Modern Rock Tracks chart. The platinum certified album was nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Rap Album and “Ch-Check It Out” for Best Rap Performance by a Duo or Group in 2005.
“The Mix-Up,” released in 2007, consisted entirely of instrumental performances and won a Grammy Award for Best Pop Instrumental Album. “Off the Grid” also was nominated for Best Pop Instrumental Performance.
In 2009 it was announced that Adam “MCA” Yauch had been diagnosed with cancer which delayed the release of their next album.
“Hot Sauce Committee Part Two” was released in 2011 with production handled by the band. “Too Many Rappers,” featuring Nas, was released as the album's first single in July 2009. It peaked at #93 on the Billboard Hot 100 making it the Beastie Boys' first single in five years to chart on the Hot 100. “Too Many Rappers” was nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Rap Performance by a Duo or Group. The next single, “Make Some Noise” was released as a download and as a 7" vinyl single for Record Store Day in April 2011. "Make Some Noise" reached at #9 on the Billboard Alternative Songs chart and #20 on the Rock Songs chart.
To date, they have sold 22 million albums in the United States alone and 40 million albums worldwide.