Just where to start with the Beastie Boys? With the drunken frat-boy anthem packed Licensed to Ill behind them, in itself a gloriously obnoxious party record - and full to the rim with hip hop classics - the Beasties returned in 1989 with something not only unexpected, but undeniably briiliant, groundbreaking, and as far away from Licensed to Ill as possible.
Well, maybe not too far away; for the 3 MC's - Adrock, MCA and Mike D - still rap in and around each other to splendid effect, only with about a zillion references to various tv shows, characters, films, musicians, or really whatever suits them in a free flowing lyrical extravaganza.
And the music? Damn, the music! Regrouping in LA with the Dust Brothers, taking a step away from Rick Rubins basic, albeit big sounding, beats, the Beasties rhyme over sample upon sample, be it the various percussions (Shake Your Rump alone samples about 4 different rhythms) or the various sounds - Egg Man emplys a 70's funk bass line over some classical stabs. Sounds of Science meanwhile emplys various moments from the Beatles back catalogue.
And the thing is, it all comes out as the Beasties own work. Such is the imagination and depth in this record, it really is deep enough for you to infintely catch something new every time you play a select track, yet alone the whole album.
Along with De La Souls 3 Feet high and Rising, Paul's Boutique not only showed early signs of the Beasties creativity and willingness to try new things, but groundbreaking sampling techniques that really form something of a one-off album. This record would never make it out today - it would cost millions!
Before the return to instruments, on the following record, Check Your Head, the Beasties re-defined their hip hop sound whilst taking it in another direction. Highlights come by in the way of the excellent Car Their, a real gem, with the Beasties rhyming over a mellowed slice of funk. Elsewhere, the aforementioned Shake Your Rump is a bombastic opener, with clattering drum rolls, hot bass lines and the Beasties on real form rapping wise.
Everything about this record, from the chilled intro and outro, and so much music in-between, is perfect. And not just in hip hop terms, but for any style of music. It really shows the creativeness that real hip hop can bring to music, from people who clearly love their music. Looking Down the Barrel of a Gun for instance, is essentially fierce rhymes over metal guitars, whilst the excellent story telling of High Plains Drifter uses all of one bass note, but it's effectiveness is supreme.