The Beastie Boys is an American hip hop music group originating from New York City. Its main members are Mike D (real name Michael Diamond), MCA (Adam Yauch) and Adrock (Adam Horovitz), but several other musicians have played with the group for a long time.
The band originally started out playing hardcore punk, but switched to hip-hop in 1984. Their first album in that style, Licensed To Ill, reached number one in the US album charts, the first rap record to do so. The record gave the Beastie Boys a name as a party band, which was reinforced by their ridiculous behaviour and controversial live shows. After turning more serious in their second album, they started playing the instruments themselves, and established their own record company Grand Royal in the early 1990s. All of their three albums released since 1994 (Ill Communication, Hello Nasty and To The 5 Boroughs) were best-sellers, all reaching #1 in the American albums charts.
The Beastie Boys were the first successful white rap band, and are the one of the few acts from the early days of hip-hop that still enjoy major successes. Their rock and punk influenced rap has influenced artists both in and outside of the hip-hop scene, as illustrated by music channel VH1's list of greatest hip hop artists, where the Beastie Boys are ranked in eleventh place.
The Beastie Boys (which stood for "Boys Entering Anarchistic States Towards Inner Excellence") were formed in New York City in 1981 as a hardcore punk band. Its original line-up consisted of Adam Yauch on bass, Kate Schellenbach on drums, John Berry on guitar and Michael Diamond on vocals. Their first gig was at Berry's house on Yauch's 17th birthday party. The band quickly earned support slots for Bad Brains and Reagan Youth at venues such as CBGB and Max's Kansas City playing at the latter venue on its closing night.
That same year, the Beastie Boys's recorded the 7" EP "Pollywog Stew" at the 171A studios (used by the Bad Brains). It was released on Ratcage Records, but attracted little interest.
John Berry left the group (later forming Thwig) and was replaced by Horovitz who had previously played in punk band The Young and the Useless in 1983. The band also performed its first rap track "Cooky Puss" (based on a prank call by the group to Carvel Ice Cream) with the song becoming a hit in New York underground dance clubs on its release by Ratcage.
The Beastie Boys rated #11 on VH1's list of greatest hip hop artists. They were certainly the first white rappers of any significance, paving the way for others such as Eminem. Licensed to Ill was the first rap album to reach #1 on the Billboard 200 charts, and together with the success of Run-DMC's Raising Hell album in 1986, marked a breakthrough for rap music. Licensed to Ill was the most successful album released by any rap artist in the 1980s.
The Beastie Boys are equally influential in rock music history. The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame acknowledged "(You Gotta) Fight for Your Right (to Party)" as one of the 500 most influential tracks in the history of rock music being a major influence on rapcore and incorporation of hip hop into music. The Beastie Boys influence can be seen in many nu metal acts featuring a DJ.
The Beastie Boys were leaders in the use of sampling with Paul's Boutique being notable for its effective use of samples. The influence of this album can be seen for example on Beck's 1996 Odelay album (also produced by the Dust Brothers).
The group is also known for extending Hip Hop to its fullest potential. Hip Hop is based upon incorporating many different cultures into one type of music. The Beastie Boys have recorded rap songs throughout their entire career, but also have recorded punk (first appearing before Licensed to Ill, then resurfacing in Check Your Head through Ill Communication), heavy metal (Check Your Head through Ill Communication), jazz funk (Check Your Head through Hello Nasty) and softly sung, often electronic tracks (Hello Nasty).
The chart consistency of the Beastie Boys must be acknowledged. Since 1986, they have had four albums reach the top of the Billboard album charts: Licensed to Ill, Ill Communication, Hello Nasty and To The 5 Boroughs. Few, if any, of the Beastie Boys' contemporaries have matched this feat.