Beastie Boys: The Series – Ill Communication (1994)

The Preamble:

Anyone even close to interested in the Beastie Boys HAS TO own this record. It has hits, deep cuts, their trademark snotty sass, punk funk groove up the wazoo and it’s just a great album, top to bottom. Pure classic.

There’s tons of info right here.

This awesome site lists all the samples used.

The Review:

Sure Shot. “‘Cos you can’t, you won’t, and you don’t STOP!” Monster track.

Tough Guy is a punk middle finger to Bill Laimbeer, and he earned it. Dirty mofo, I saw him play in the Palace, 1991 or so, the Bad Boy championship Pistons (Isaiah Thomas, Joe Dumars, that whole crew). Dirtier than Larry Bird, was Laimbeer.

B-Boys Makin’ With The Freak Freak is pure Beasties. You know that sound. And it has the funniest line on the album: “Shit, if it’s gonna be that kind of party, I’m gonna stick my dick in the mashed potatoes!” Beautiful.

Bobo On The Corner is a cool instrumental, the drums lay down the beat and then everything else skitters along with it.

Root Down. What a song. HUGE. And all about sex. “So how ya gonna kick it?”

Sabotage. Holy fuck this record is a killer. You know this song. It’s rap AND punk. And a bloody great video too.

Get It Together was a single too, and is really great. What a groove. You cannot listen to this song and not MOVE. “Phone is ringin’. Ohmygod.”

Sabrosa is pure 70s funk, instrumental and super great. This is blaxploitation soundtrack music.

The Update is a slowed down version of a couple of songs off Check Your Head, those megaphone vocals. Still, like everything else they do, you just gotta move to it.

Futterman’s Rule is a great fuzz guitar instrumental. These guys are just showing off, at this point. I swear.

Alright Hear This has good advice: “…don’t try it at home with your Dad’s stereo, only under hip hop supervision, alright?” Haha. Another Check Your Head castaway, surely. Either that or they just really grew to like this sound. Great flow, though.

Eugene’s Lament is a slow, noodly instrumental with, of all things, a violin. Crazy cool.

And now I need to tell you a story:

Back when our daughter was an infant, she had trouble getting to sleep late at night. This is not news to any parent ever. We tried everything and nothing ever seemed to knock her out (also not news to any parent ever). Except, if we put her in the car and drove her around with the music on, she might (MIGHT) finally pass out a bit faster. One night, I was driving her around the neighbourhood up the hill from our old place, and I was playing this album. Why? Because dammit, if I gotta be tooling around the streets so she could fall asleep, I was damn well gonna play the music I wanted to hear! I couldn’t tell you now if we started the album from the top, this noght (probably not), but when we hit the next three tracks (Flute Loop, Do It, and the instrumental Ricky’s Theme), she passed right out.

I swear, it was like magic. I don’t know what it is about that three-song combination, but for weeks, these were the songs that finally (FINALLY) helped our beautiful girl sleep (for a few hours, anyway). I even made a mix CD for the car, isolating these three songs (along with some Van Morrison and Gordon Lightfoot, others that seemed to work though not as well as these three). With a Sharpie I wrote: GO TO SLEEP, SOPHIE on it. And even today, I keep these songs on the mix in the car. She’s two and a half, now, and she still perks up, with a big grin, and says “It’s the BOYS!”

Forever will I think of this 3-song combo, deep cuts all, as the songs that saved our lives from the wide awake baby girl. Thank you, Beastie Boys. It is no reflection on your music that it made her sleep. Far from it. But you know that you have to go with what works, especially when you are sleep deprived and delirious, and this did. GOLD. One day, though, I know she’s going to come to me and say “Daddy, what does ‘Step inside the motherfucker and I get my flow on’ (from Do It) mean?”

Of course, until I made the mix CD for my baby girl, I had to be quick enough in my exhaustion to skip the next track, Heart Attack Man, which is another loud and brash punk blast à la Tough Guy.

The Scoop is another megaphone vocals track. I get it, I do. But it is a bit tiresome. Aw, I can’t stay mad, fair play, it still works.

Shambala starts out with monks chanting in that creepy low-voice sound. It eventually becomes a funky instrumental exploration which leads into…

Bodhisattva Vow, which keeps the monks and adds the megaphone vocals and some Eastern instrumentation. I can’t imagine Buddhists playing this to try to get young people interested in their thing, but you never know.

And finally, Transitions closes out the record with a slow groove instrumental that ends, of all things, with a timpani roll.

In sum: You know, there are great records in this world AND THIS IS ONE OF THEM. I swear up and down that these first four Beastie albums (Licensed To Ill, Paul’s Boutique, Check Your Head and Ill Communication) are must-owns for anyone even remotely interested in this band, or hip hop in general. There is so much packed into each one of these records that you could spend ages discovering things. Ill Communication is like an icing on an already awesome cake.

For the purposes of this series, we’re about to go off on a couple of tangents, and then get into some records I maybe don’t know quite as well. Will they be as essential as these four? LET’S FIND OUT!


Posted on June 2, 2014, in posts by aaron and tagged . Bookmark the permalink. 8 Comments.

  1. Hahaha..back in 1990 here in Tbay we used to get our American channels from Detroit so we would get the Tigers and the Pistons. That was when I started following basketball was the Bad Boys those guys did not give a Fudge about anything or anyone.
    They laid waste to so many teams and me and my bro would laugh as my brother would keep track of how many opposing players would eat a Laimbeer elbow.
    One game I think it was like 23 elbows or sumthin..what a total dirty prick but what a great f’n team!
    Once they were disbanded as the Bad boys I lost quite a bit of interest in the NBA so my hardcore fanboy followship lasted 2 yrs!!!
    No team has ever come close to those guys……

    Now I gotta get this Beasties just to hear that track!


    • I was a Lakers fan in the 80s (Magic, Kareem, Worthy, that whole crew), but we couldn’t get tix to see them play in Detroit. I think we saw the Pistons hammer the Timberwolves that night. Anyway, it was quite a show. They were a good team, even great. Not built for longevity though (hard to maintain), as time would tell.

      As for Tough Guy, why wait? Hear it now!


  2. Cute story about your daughter nodding off to this. Another must-have Beasties classic, but just a warm-up to the one I’m waiting for you to get to…… (chewing nails impatiently)


    • Cute story… and totally true! Someday, I’ll be the cool Dad for playing my baby girl the Beasties to get her to go to sleep, right?

      I’m curious as to which one you await. I’ve a couple of little things to get to before the next studio record, but maybe you await something later yet? I guess we’ll see when we get there!


      • Mos’ Def right… long as she doesn’t repeat any raps at the family christmas dinner “No NO Nana, she said funky balderdash boss!”
        Flashback memory of the daughter of a couple hard-core punks I knew; grocery shopping in a busy holiday store, she’s skipping ahead with her pink hair, torn jeans & t-shirt (just like mommy) clearing a shocked path for us with a bump ‘n grind version of The Cramps’ “…so stick out your can ‘cuz I’m a <Garbage Man!!”

        “Some Old Bullshit” is next? that be cool, should hold me until….


      • Methinks you await Hello Nasty, but I could be wrong… fear not, it is coming. Two more to clear up before that, first…

        My girl doesn’t repeat too much from songs… yet. But my boy (he’s 5) has been known to run around yelling “Whoa! Yeah! Kickstart my HEART!” At home and in public.


      • Also, playing the Cramps for your kids is a sign of excellent parenting.


      • Ooo, also for a while, my boy ran around yelling “Bellbottoms! Bellbottoms! Bellbottoms!” (JSBX). Crazy what these kids pick up these days, ain’t it?


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