Hey, everyone, it is Jim McGuinn from Teenage
Kicks, and today, we’re talking about Beastie Boys,
“Paul’s Boutique,” an album that was released July 25, 1989. Now this is thought of as one of the landmark
hip-hop albums in music history, but at the time, it was a failure. The Beastie Boys were coming off of “License
to Ill” — “Fight for your right to party!” They were being called “frat rap” in the press,
and they also had a fallout with their producer, Rick Rubin,
with their label, Def Jam. So they bailed on New York,
moved to Los Angeles, signed with Capitol Records. But what to do with album number two? Hm. If you’re the Beastie Boys, you hook up with
the Dust Brothers, a production duo working out of L.A.
who were really early in on making sort of mashup, sample tracks, and putting together
multiple layers of tracks. They were intending to release a lot of these
songs as club mixes, kind of on the down low. The Beastie Boys heard them and said, “We
want to rap over these beats.” The Dust Brothers said, “These are dense;
these are really tough.” And the Beasties were like, “No. This is cool. Let’s do it!” So that is how “Paul’s Boutique” basically
came together: Beastie Boys working with the Dust Brothers,
coming up with these tracks, sampling from the entire history of music
culture. You’ve got everything — I mean, like, tons
of R&B and funk and soul classics. Tons of James Brown,
you’ve got samples of Public Enemy, you’ve got the Commodores on there. You’ve also got rock songs wrapped at random
almost; you’ve got Beatles songs taken and sampled. You’ve got the Jam and Black Flag and all kinds of artists. And they put together what many people now
consider a masterpiece. Now at the time, Capitol Records said, “Oh,
this is going to be the ‘Sgt Pepper’ of hip hop.” It wasn’t received that well. Mike D himself said, “We were really proud
of this record when we put it out, and nobody seemed to care, at least not then.” Some critics liked it, but they couldn’t get
arrested in terms of the charts or in terms of sales, so they thought they were almost
washed up. Now it turns out in retrospect, it was really
just the beginning of act two for the Beastie Boys,
because they went on from “Paul’s Boutique” to make such classic albums after that,
but “Paul’s Boutique” is the one that sort of ignited that creativity and that spark
in the band, and it’s just a great record. We’re going to pay tribute to it this week
on Teenage Kicks, so check that out, Saturday mornings, 8 to 10 on The Current. I think it’s probably impossible to do the
Beastie Boys on ukulele! But I can tell you that the song “Egg Man,”
one of the classic tracks, is built around the bass line of Curtis Mayfield’s
“Superfly.” That sounds – not a lot, but a little – like
this on a ukulele: [playing ukulele] So if you can imagine that continuing, and on top of that, you’ve got the three of them
trading lines back and forth, saying things like, you know, “The egg / a symbol of life Go inside your house / and bust out your wife Pulled out the jammy / thought it was a joke The trigger I pulled / his face, the yolk” That’s where the Beastie Boys were going over that bass line. I don’t think I can do that at the same time,
though. [playing ukulele] The egg … a symbol of life … I can’t do it!
(laughter) There’s no way! It’s just too much to try to put both those
sides of my brain into one place. But it’s a great record; trust us on that. It’s the Beastie Boys, “Paul’s Boutique.” [plucking ukulele strings] A uke failure. But it’s OK!