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A panoramic experience that tells the story of Beastie Boys, a book as unique as the band itself--by band members ADROCK and Mike D, with contributions from Amy Poehler, Colson Whitehead, Spike Jonze, Wes Anderson, Luc Sante, and more. Formed as a New York City hardcore band in 1981, Beastie Boys struck an unlikely path to global hip hop superstardom. Here is their story, t A panoramic experience that tells the story of Beastie Boys, a book as unique as the band itself--by band members ADROCK and Mike D, with contributions from Amy Poehler, Colson Whitehead, Spike Jonze, Wes Anderson, Luc Sante, and more. Formed as a New York City hardcore band in 1981, Beastie Boys struck an unlikely path to global hip hop superstardom. Here is their story, told for the first time in the words of the band. Adam "ADROCK" Horovitz and Michael "Mike D" Diamond offer revealing and very funny accounts of their transition from teenage punks to budding rappers; their early collaboration with Russell Simmons and Rick Rubin; the debut album that became the first hip hop record ever to hit #1, Licensed to Ill--and the album's messy fallout as the band broke with Def Jam; their move to Los Angeles and rebirth with the genre-defying masterpiece Paul's Boutique; their evolution as musicians and social activists over the course of the classic albums Check Your Head, Ill Communication, and Hello Nasty and the Tibetan Freedom Concert benefits conceived by the late Adam "MCA" Yauch; and more. For more than thirty years, this band has had an inescapable and indelible influence on popular culture. With a style as distinctive and eclectic as a Beastie Boys album, Beastie Boys Book upends the typical music memoir. Alongside the band narrative you will find rare photos, original illustrations, a cookbook by chef Roy Choi, a graphic novel, a map of Beastie Boys' New York, mixtape playlists, pieces by guest contributors, and many more surprises.


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A panoramic experience that tells the story of Beastie Boys, a book as unique as the band itself--by band members ADROCK and Mike D, with contributions from Amy Poehler, Colson Whitehead, Spike Jonze, Wes Anderson, Luc Sante, and more. Formed as a New York City hardcore band in 1981, Beastie Boys struck an unlikely path to global hip hop superstardom. Here is their story, t A panoramic experience that tells the story of Beastie Boys, a book as unique as the band itself--by band members ADROCK and Mike D, with contributions from Amy Poehler, Colson Whitehead, Spike Jonze, Wes Anderson, Luc Sante, and more. Formed as a New York City hardcore band in 1981, Beastie Boys struck an unlikely path to global hip hop superstardom. Here is their story, told for the first time in the words of the band. Adam "ADROCK" Horovitz and Michael "Mike D" Diamond offer revealing and very funny accounts of their transition from teenage punks to budding rappers; their early collaboration with Russell Simmons and Rick Rubin; the debut album that became the first hip hop record ever to hit #1, Licensed to Ill--and the album's messy fallout as the band broke with Def Jam; their move to Los Angeles and rebirth with the genre-defying masterpiece Paul's Boutique; their evolution as musicians and social activists over the course of the classic albums Check Your Head, Ill Communication, and Hello Nasty and the Tibetan Freedom Concert benefits conceived by the late Adam "MCA" Yauch; and more. For more than thirty years, this band has had an inescapable and indelible influence on popular culture. With a style as distinctive and eclectic as a Beastie Boys album, Beastie Boys Book upends the typical music memoir. Alongside the band narrative you will find rare photos, original illustrations, a cookbook by chef Roy Choi, a graphic novel, a map of Beastie Boys' New York, mixtape playlists, pieces by guest contributors, and many more surprises.

30 review for Beastie Boys Book

  1. 5 out of 5

    Larry

    I wish MCA could have contributed. The whole book is a tribute to him. It’s as perfect as it can be without him.

  2. 5 out of 5

    britt_brooke

    Oh man, I loved this Beastie Boys history lesson! The audiobook is sooo pleasing to the ear. In addition to Diamond and Horovitz, there’s a full cast of narrators that will blow your damned mind. The essays and anecdotes are well-written, thoughtful, and often humorous. There are a few guest essayists as well. This collection takes the music memoir to a whole new level. On top of that, it’s a beautiful homage to Adam Yauch. This is one of my top reads of 2018!

  3. 5 out of 5

    Optimist ♰King's Wench♰

    I'm sure you're scratching your head about right now thinking, "WTAF is even happening with you, Cupcake????!!!!" What had happened was... Audible sent me an email that essentially said: THIS IS THE BEST FUCKING AUDIOBOOK OF 2018!!! BUY THIS SHIT NOW!!!!!!! (paraphrasing since I'm quite certain Bezos wouldn't sanction such language, though evidently, dick pics are ok?) My reaction was... I mean, I'm not going to perpetrate and say I've been a Beasties fan since always cuz that's a damn lie. I didn' I'm sure you're scratching your head about right now thinking, "WTAF is even happening with you, Cupcake????!!!!" What had happened was... Audible sent me an email that essentially said: THIS IS THE BEST FUCKING AUDIOBOOK OF 2018!!! BUY THIS SHIT NOW!!!!!!! (paraphrasing since I'm quite certain Bezos wouldn't sanction such language, though evidently, dick pics are ok?) My reaction was... I mean, I'm not going to perpetrate and say I've been a Beasties fan since always cuz that's a damn lie. I didn't even pay attention to them until Hello Nasty then sort of backtracked to some others. Why, you ask? They were. They totally were. But one of the great things about the book is they admit to their assholery. They don't sugarcoat it or try to say the dog made me do it or some shit. No, they not only wrote a book with all of it in there but they also narrated the book and apologized for it. With sincerity. As a person who garnered a rep in high school as being a mega-bitch, a rep I might add that between 2-5 yrs later I still had trouble shaking, I can relate to making poor life choices and generally being galactically stupid as a teen and trying to make amends for that shit later in life. But I digress. I sort of got into them around Hello Nasty because it was the shit and I knew one of them was dating Ione Skye or something and no way was Ione Fucking Skye dating a douche; another one was, like, a Buddhist or something so I cut them some slack for their earlier douchebaggery. I became somewhat of a fan and still remember where I was when I heard Yauch died. I also remember posting "and then there were two" on FB. No, I've no idea how many likes it got. Yauch's presence is still very much felt in this book and it's clear how much they continue to miss him. It's also clear how 'outside the box' he pretty much always was. That does not, however, mean that he wasn't just as much of a crazy mofo as his two cohorts and this book is packed to the gills with one ridiculous and outlandish story after another of these three punk kids running around NYC and having a blast doing it. Along the way we're treated to a history of NYC during the late 70s/early 80s where things like CB/GB and Danceteria were part of the landscape and names like Jean Basquiat, Andy Warhol and the Butthole Surfers are mentioned in passing. This book is epic in scope. I was blown away by all the details. How they remembered all of it down to playlists and outfits that people wore... Incredible. They take time to pay tribute to everyone who helped them become who they are and not just people like Russell Simmons or Run DMC but the guy who helped them make Polly Wag Stew, Dave Parsons. Dave who would later run into Yauch and had come out as trans but also had cancer and wanted to live out her days in the body she was meant to have. And Yauch made it happen. The stories are mostly hilarious or weird or weird and hilarious, like, Yauch and Mike D had an apartment with an asphalt floor! AN ASPHALT FLOOR FFS! AND it was above a brothel! And they didn't know it was above a brothel until they got their first electric bill and were, like, we're gonna have to move out. So the super calls and asks if they'd gotten their bill, they say 'yes', the sup says the downstairs neighbor will take care of it since he's using your electricity. Awesome. They go down and IT'S A FUCKING BROTHEL! I laughed so hard because how do you miss that? But then the story got better because Ad-Rock goes on to say how he was scarred for life since every time he went over to their apartment he'd seem to catch Mike D in the bath. The bath that was in the kitchen! So whenever he got thirsty or hungry he'd get up, do the reeeeeeeeeeeeeeeaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaach to the fridge and show all his bits before getting back into the tub. (a) I thought the NYC/tub in the kitchen thing was an urban legend (b) one of their mom's when they saw the place was, like, "oh, you can put a piece of wood over it to give you more workspace!" (c) THE FLOOR WAS FUCKING ASPHALT! Like, if you walked around barefoot, you'd have black feet in 2.4 nanoseconds. That's just one story amongst a million, all of which had my face doing some calisthenics. And what made all of these anecdotes even better was the INSANE number of celebrities that narrate. I went into this blind so I figured it would just be Ad-Rock and Mike D trading off. Not only did the above celeb make an appearance but Ben Stiller, Elvis Costello, Jon Stewart, Bette Midler BETTE FUCKING MIDLER!, Tim Meadows, Steve Buscemi, John C. Reilley, Nas, Snoop, Rosie Perez, Wes Anderson and a bunch of other people, some of whom I knew and some I didn't. I gotta tell you, though, I legit lost my shit when I heard Wanda Sykes' voice come through my speakers. Wanda Sykes could make fart noises and just say the word "Weimaraner" for, like, 15-20 mins and I'd be in stitches. Her voice and cadence crack me the fuck up, so biased. I also loved Will Ferrell's chapter where he reads a review of, I think, Ill Communication that is the funniest thing ever. The guy's making soup and talks about making the soup more than the album and Will delivers it deadpan... Indeed. "We" were. I also really like Amy Poehler's reviews of their videos chapter and Spike Jonze's chapter where he describes photos he took of the Beasties and every one of them is "the best photo ever". It was cute. But really, all of them did a fantastic job and a lot of times they were laughing right along with the stories or Mike D would cut in on Ad-Rock's story and vice versa. It's plain as day they were having a good time with it and that was infectious. The only weak point for me was when they got on a tear about listing artists that were either influential or some DJ would spin at "x, y, or z" place and that's fine. It is a music book but listing 50+ artists is overkill. And the chapter devoted to Roy Choi's recipes. That didn't translate well to audio. However, the book is a lot like their albums-some songs speak to you, some don't, some are weird and some you're like... So it's fitting their book would be the same. Overall a 4.5 star listen and I would recommend this to anyone who's a fan of the Beasties (obvs) but anyone who's a fan of music as this is an insightful account of the genesis of hip hop and rap music. It really is musical anthropology and I learned quite a bit about the process and the business and was amazed these three just went for it and let the chips fall where they may on numerous occasions. Something that actually turned out to make them pioneers in many things music related. Also, if you love 80s NYC culture, you'll prolly get a kick out of this as well.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Blaine

    It is occurring to people all over the city that rap is a sound that can be carved. And so it is occurring to three young city kids, lately in the punk-rock business, that they can use it to make anthems and stage sketch comedy and arrange pinpoint-precise repartee that wears a stupid hat to conceal its sophistication—and that’s just the beginning. I had just turned 16 when Licensed to Ill came out. I was the target demographic, and I absolutely loved it. I still know every word of that album. So It is occurring to people all over the city that rap is a sound that can be carved. And so it is occurring to three young city kids, lately in the punk-rock business, that they can use it to make anthems and stage sketch comedy and arrange pinpoint-precise repartee that wears a stupid hat to conceal its sophistication—and that’s just the beginning. I had just turned 16 when Licensed to Ill came out. I was the target demographic, and I absolutely loved it. I still know every word of that album. So yeah, sooner or later, I was going to have to read this book. And I’ve got a lot of thoughts. The book is a collection of essays. Many are written by Mike Diamond and Adam Horowitz, the two surviving members of the group. But interestingly, many are written by others: social critics providing context and opinions on the group’s influence (including an argument by Jonathan Lethem that they unintentionally started gangster rap), an essay by Amy Poehler hilariously reviewing their music videos, one by a fashion journalist slamming their many looks over the years, a photo collection by director Spike Jonze, an absolutely hysterical (and fake) review of the Ill Communication album in which the reviewer spends much of the review discussing a soup he was making while listening to the album, and an absurdist imagining of the life of the Carvel Cookie Puss ice cream cake (the subject of the Beastie Boys’ first single) by two-time Pulitzer Prize winner Colson Whitehead. The book, like their music, samples heavily. By including so many essays that serve to puncture any ego they might have, the book lacks the self-importance or braggadocio that is a risk in any biography. And the reverence Mike Diamond and Adam Horowitz still have for Adam Yauch (RIP) further humanizes them. It seems an honest portrayal of how they met, grew, and evolved over the years into the bestselling rap group of all-time, and one of only five rap groups in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. What amazed me was how little I knew about the band itself. Their punk roots. That there was a Beastie Girl in the band who was forced out (and whom is given her own essay to tell her painful side of what happened). That BEASTIE was an acronym for Boys Entering Anarchistic States Toward Internal Excellence. How the three were barely out of high school when they released Licensed to Ill. That for a time they became the ridiculous caricatures they were mocking on that album, and how much they soon regretted it. How they developed the sampling techniques they became so famous for, and later became pioneers of internet music. A common question about this book seems to be: should I read the print book or listen to the audiobook? The answer is ... Yes! There are great pictures and illustrations throughout the print book, so you’ll want to see those. But the audiobook is well-narrated by a mix of the band members, essay authors, and other contemporaries and celebrities who seem to simply be fans (for example, Will Ferrell brilliantly reads the fake album review mentioned above). A wholly original format for a biography, one that matches the creativity and humor of the band. And—I don’t know how I have not already said this—there are at least a hundred laugh-out-loud funny stories in this book. 4.5 stars rounded up to 5 stars. Highly recommended.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Ginger

    For an audiobook, this one was one fantastic! I became a Beastie Boys fan when I was 10 years old and I've loved their music ever since. Of course, being 10 years old, I wasn't suppose to listen to this music. But I had an ace up my sleeve. I had an older brother. Any new music that he brought into the house, I was lucky enough to experience it as well. He just couldn't let the 'rents know that he was corrupting his little sister. So one day when Mom & Dad were out of the house, my brother said, "Check For an audiobook, this one was one fantastic! I became a Beastie Boys fan when I was 10 years old and I've loved their music ever since. Of course, being 10 years old, I wasn't suppose to listen to this music. But I had an ace up my sleeve. I had an older brother. Any new music that he brought into the house, I was lucky enough to experience it as well. He just couldn't let the 'rents know that he was corrupting his little sister. So one day when Mom & Dad were out of the house, my brother said, "Check this out. Dave bought this cassette the other day and it’s called hip hop or rap. I'm not sure but they’re called the Beastie Boys though." And when it started playing, I fell in love. I knew this music was different. It was shock. It was punk. It was hard core "different" and I've been a fan ever since. Beastie Boys Book is literally a book about all things Beastie Boys. From how they got started, how the band came into existence (they use to be hardcore punks!), to dealing with Adam Yauch's death. It talks about how they transitioned from punk to rap/rock and how Def Jam came into the scene. It talks about their influences from Run-DMC, Biz Markie, The Ramones to Black Flag. How they use to tour with Madonna. The content in this was just great! Listening to them talk about New York City during the 80s and how the music scene was transitioning during that time was gold! It was all disco music and the music in the streets was punching NYC in the face. Electronic music like New Order and Depeche Mode was playing in underground clubs. Run-DMC and The Sugerhill Gang was blaring out of tape cassettes while cars cruised through Brooklyn and Harlem. I never knew how it all came swinging from one end, disco music, to straight up hip hop, rap and electronic music. It was nostalgic to listen too and made me understand why I love the 80s so much. The audiobook has tons of special guests and that was fantastic too. Case in point: Steve Buscemi, Snoop Dogg, Rachel Maddow, Jon Stewart, Spike Jonze, Amy Poehler, John C. Reilly, etc. I could keep going on the contributors but you get the idea. The audiobook will kept your interest because each chapter was always changing, funny and interesting. I laughed many times while listening to this and I'm glad I picked it up! Yo, be careful with edibles though! 🤣😂 Definitely pick this one up if you love the Beastie Boys and all things 80s. If you really love music, this is also for you!

  6. 4 out of 5

    Kevin Kelsey

    Reaally great.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Joseph Richardson

    I just want to preface this by saying a couple of things. First of all, I don't really write reviews on here, as writing about music is more my forte. Secondly, Beastie Boys have been my favorite band since I was five or six years old, and Ill Communication was the third CD I owned as a kid. While my peers were listening to whatever was topping the charts in '97, I was listening to burned copies of Licensed To Ill, Paul's Boutique, and Check Your Head (thanks, Auntie). I didn't know why I liked I just want to preface this by saying a couple of things. First of all, I don't really write reviews on here, as writing about music is more my forte. Secondly, Beastie Boys have been my favorite band since I was five or six years old, and Ill Communication was the third CD I owned as a kid. While my peers were listening to whatever was topping the charts in '97, I was listening to burned copies of Licensed To Ill, Paul's Boutique, and Check Your Head (thanks, Auntie). I didn't know why I liked those albums, and I didn't know most of what they were saying, or even what the words meant (you know that interlude bit on "B-Boys Makin' With The Freak Freak"? I repeated that All. The. Time.), but I was drawn in by the personalities, and so in 2012, I mourned Adam Yauch the way most people mourned Michael Jackson. "What does any of this have to do with this book?" Well, everything, honestly. Or at the very least, it has everything to do with my enjoyment of the book. When talk began swirling about a "Beastie Boys book," Mike D and Ad-Rock had said they wanted to do something untraditional, and in the throes of grief following the death of MCA, I thought that sounded terrible. If you've seen the band in an interview, you know they have a way of drifting through questions by way of providing nonsensical answers. It's part of their charm and added a layer of mystique to their existence as a group, something that's all but vanished in the digital age. However, I wanted answers here, and I wanted them to be genuine. Thankfully, Diamond and Horovitz find a nice middle ground where I think they're comfortable from an artistic perspective and I'm more than pleased from a fan's perspective. Because Beastie Boys Book, with it's gloriously bland title (kind of ironic given their discography), does not function as a normal biography, auto or otherwise. Instead, the text reads more like a series of short stories and motifs, with no real timeline. Mike D and Ad-Rock take turns writing their thoughts for these mini-chapters, going through the start of the band, the music scene in NY in the 80s, and briefly touching on each album cycle. But the writing isn't straightforward, as neither member could be categorized as a writer in the traditional sense. Instead, the tone is almost conversational, and as I acclimated myself to their respective writing styles, I began to feel as if I was having one-on-one conversations with Adam and Mike, and it reached a point where I stopped looking at who was writing the new chapter, because I started to understand how the two men wrote. Mike is pretty deliberate and organized, whereas Adam's mind is racing all over the place, and you constantly find him doubting his recollection of certain events. That's what's great about the book, though. The text, like their music, doesn't take itself seriously. The two leave each other little notes in the borders when they want to contest the way an event was addressed, they occasionally bicker like an old married couple (in the best way possible), and I genuinely found myself laughing--like, big, hearty laughs--as I read through some of their stories. And just when you start thinking, "Man, this is crazy. This can't be real, right?" it's like they read your mind because they make a comment on the insanity of their experience. The thing I enjoyed more than anything, however, was just the little pieces of trivia that were scattered throughout the book. When I said earlier that I wanted answers, I didn't mean that I wanted to know every little detail about their personal lives. I just wanted to know little tidbits about the recording process and how they feel about some of their records in retrospect. For example, (view spoiler)[ Adam's favorite album is Hello Nasty, Mike's least favorite song is "What Comes Around," and the beginning of "The Maestro" was taken from a message they got on an answering machine thanks to Yauch having the defunct Paul's Boutique number routed to an unused phone in a basement or something. (hide spoiler)] Don't get me wrong, as a whole, the book isn't perfect, and in the last 150 pages or so things can get a little fluffy, but when weighed against its strengths, any minor infractions have such a small impact that they don't even matter. Because, for example, while I genuinely disliked the bit at the end where André Leon Talley was trashing the Boys' fashion choices over the decades (it felt mean-spirited), it comes shortly after one of the funniest sections in the book where Ad-Rock recounts this experience he had tripping on some strongly laced pot cookies 15 minutes before they had to go on stage. In a book with 100 chapters, the fact that only four or five of them felt a little useless says a lot. Plus, when you break it down, more than anything, this book is a love letter to Yauch. The opening chapter was enough to make me grab the tissues, but by the end, I felt as if I'd gone through a journey with the band, and the conclusion brought a certain sense of closure that I didn't even realize I was looking for. This book may not be for everyone, as it's not the most organized autobiography you'll get your hands on, but the Beastie Boys were always trying to break the mold with their music, so it only makes sense they closed this chapter of their lives in the same way. For that, and for all of their music that's soundtracked my existence, I am eternally grateful. R.I.P. Adam Yauch aka MCA -- We love and miss you. "MC-for what I am and do, the A is for Adam, and the lyrics? True."

  8. 4 out of 5

    Melanie

    I was so excited to get this hefty (500+ pages) book, and it did not disappoint. I enjoyed it so much I devoured it in a weekend. Who would like this book? A Beastie Boys fan. Yes. A child of the '80s. Yes. A music aficionado. Yes. A New York resident. Yes. Someone who loves New York. Yes. A punk rock hip hop fan? Yes. Basically, you can love the Beastie Boys or not even care about the Beastie Boys and you'll enjoy this book. I happen to be a fan and grew up watching their escapades on MTV, atte I was so excited to get this hefty (500+ pages) book, and it did not disappoint. I enjoyed it so much I devoured it in a weekend. Who would like this book? A Beastie Boys fan. Yes. A child of the '80s. Yes. A music aficionado. Yes. A New York resident. Yes. Someone who loves New York. Yes. A punk rock hip hop fan? Yes. Basically, you can love the Beastie Boys or not even care about the Beastie Boys and you'll enjoy this book. I happen to be a fan and grew up watching their escapades on MTV, attending the Tibetan Freedom Concert and lamenting the loss of bandmate Adam Yauch. As they grew, I grew. In all honesty, this book is a story of friendship. Through short anecdotes/essays detailing the Beasties Boys (beginnings, middles, and unfortunately, ending) this is really the story of three punk rock boys, using NYC as their playground and what they accomplished. The book is a beautiful tribute to the long-lasting friendship of the "boys" and their departed bandmate, Adam Yauch (MCA). This book left me laughing out loud (AdRock's brilliant essay about cassette mix tapes) and crying when Mike D and Ad Rock (Michael Diamond and Adam Horovitz) get real about their friendship with Yauch and what he meant and will always mean to them. It's easy to read in that sections are short, conversational and enhanced with beautiful photography. Essays from the likes of Coleson Whitehead to Amy Poehler, among others, pepper the books. What you won't find is gossip or name-dropping, but instead you'll read a sincere tale of success and what that means, of friendship and how that endures, of music and what that inspires and of a gritty city that provided a soundtrack for us all.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Chris Bushman

    The Beastie Boys Book by Mike Diamond is a coffee table book full of pictures but it also contains quite a lot of thoughtfully written essays covering the life of the band in detail. This is a chance for the surviving members and close associates to tell their stories and they take full advantage. It really is very well done. The perfect Christmas gift for the hard to buy for BBoy doin' the freak freak on your shopping list. The Beastie Boys Book by Mike Diamond is a coffee table book full of pictures but it also contains quite a lot of thoughtfully written essays covering the life of the band in detail. This is a chance for the surviving members and close associates to tell their stories and they take full advantage. It really is very well done. The perfect Christmas gift for the hard to buy for BBoy doin' the freak freak on your shopping list.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Nigeyb

    Beastie Boys Book is wonderful. Just like the group, it's chaotic, kaleidoscopic and packed with humour. The hard back edition is a surprisingly heavy coffee table type book packed with photos, essays, cartoons, recipes, trivia, mixtapes etc. The overall effect is a mesmerising panorama of memories, history and nostalgia. Beastie Boys started as a teenage punk hardcore band in 1981 and, remarkably, in a couple of years, had metamorphosised into global hip hop superstars. This was just the start of Beastie Boys Book is wonderful. Just like the group, it's chaotic, kaleidoscopic and packed with humour. The hard back edition is a surprisingly heavy coffee table type book packed with photos, essays, cartoons, recipes, trivia, mixtapes etc. The overall effect is a mesmerising panorama of memories, history and nostalgia. Beastie Boys started as a teenage punk hardcore band in 1981 and, remarkably, in a couple of years, had metamorphosised into global hip hop superstars. This was just the start of their journey, they quickly became embarrassed by the frat boy audience who gravitated to their leery beer swilling yob image and so reinvented themselves again, emphasising creativity and musical freedom over commercial success. If you like the group (or even if you don't, and really, why wouldn't you?) then Beastie Boys Book is funny, fascinating, engrossing and a wonderful reference book. A definite keeper. It is also a love letter to Adam Yauch, the group's driving force, who sadly died of cancer in 2012, which is when the group ended. He was an extraordinary individual and the book is chock full of great stories and anecdotes about him. 5/5

  11. 4 out of 5

    Jeffrey (Akiva) Savett

    If you’re like me and Amy Poehler (see book), Beastie Boys—or as I often miscall them, THE Beastie Boys—were a central component of your teen and 20s DNA. I was lucky enough to become musically aware well AFTER License To Ill. So the first Beastie Boys album that dropped FOR ME, was Check Your Head. It’s 1992. I’m going to be a junior in high school. I’m one of those kids whose musical identity isn’t just about music and whose identity isn’t about much else. The bands I love teach me what to wea If you’re like me and Amy Poehler (see book), Beastie Boys—or as I often miscall them, THE Beastie Boys—were a central component of your teen and 20s DNA. I was lucky enough to become musically aware well AFTER License To Ill. So the first Beastie Boys album that dropped FOR ME, was Check Your Head. It’s 1992. I’m going to be a junior in high school. I’m one of those kids whose musical identity isn’t just about music and whose identity isn’t about much else. The bands I love teach me what to wear, what to support, who not to trust, what books to read, and whether or not to drink at high school parties (the answer to the latter was no—too much Fugazi in me). It’s weird right? To say that Beastie Boys were one of the proteins of that DNA? A non DRINKING DNA? Right. Because by Check Your Head, they’d already become adults. They were one album past taking sampling to its logical mayhem genius end with Paul’s Boutique. And one album away from MCA issuing his famous apology for “the disrespect to women” to “the mothers and the sisters and the wives and friends.” They cared about Tibet. They played their instruments. They didn’t give a fuck. Perfect. You won’t understand what this book MEANS without all that. Fill in your own teen moments and needs if you’re a fan. Reading this is like listening to a new Beasties album for the first time. Extensive liner notes. Lots of strange and interesting pictures. Lots of laughs. New York City as a character. It’s beautifully bound and the pages are high quality. It feels a little more like an art book than a history of the band. It’s important to remember that the Beasties reached the height of their fame firing the analog musket in the digital revolution. Yeah, the first albums of theirs I owned were on CD. But there was no internet. What I wanted to know about THEM and their SONGS beyond what was recorded was only gained by obsessive magazine hunting and word of mouth. All those references. The locations, the local celebrities, samples and call outs to all those early 70s albums, and finally, the train number shout outs all together formed a map of New York that to me was mysterious and definitionally cool and always slightly out of reach. So to read this book is to finally have a glossary. A flow chart. Like a Luc Sante essay about old NYC, this is an extended love letter. I read slowly in order to savor it. There’s also a deep sadness to this book and, for me, some irony. They’re writing it without Yauch. For Yauch. Because of Yauch. He is the real hero of this book and, from what they say, the band. Here’s the irony. When I was growing up, naturally, I wanted to join. But it’s a trio. Always will be. So someone had to be tossed. I got it in my mind that MCA (Yauch) was superfluous, the only one with the gruff and tough voice. The one on stage always most reserved (of course, next to ADROCK, Henry Rollins looks reserved). So when I formed my own rap group with two friends, Dr. Shmuckler, it was all really rehearsal. So as it happens, wonderfully but tragically, Yauch was the soul—creatively, adventurously, and spiritually—of Beastie Boys. Who knew? Everyone in their circle apparently. And now me. Ultimately, this is what I “learned” most by reading this book. I was so happy to find out who that voice is who says “you should sleep late. It’s much easier on your constitution.” Repeat revealed samples ad infinitum. But I was most moved by what I learned about Yauch, about what an amazing person he was, still being taught by this band, at age 42, who not to trust, where to spend my money, by what acts and non-acts I’ll be remembered. The saddest part is that there’s no way this book gets written, there’s no way these thoughts get thought, if Yauch doesn’t tragically die so young. So the whole read is a mix tape that makes you laugh and cry at the same time. Which, in the end, is always what’cha want to want.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Mattia Ravasi

    Video review If this book were a Beastie Boys album (and it is as inventive, effervescent and FUN as their records), it would be my third favorite. That sounds nonsensical but it's meant as high praise! Video review If this book were a Beastie Boys album (and it is as inventive, effervescent and FUN as their records), it would be my third favorite. That sounds nonsensical but it's meant as high praise!

  13. 4 out of 5

    Michael Legge

    It’s a shame he dies in the end.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Gary K Bibliophile

    What an entertaining book! I’m not used to seeing such a high rating on Goodreads. My initial thought was that it was artificially high because most of the first readers were fans - and maybe a little biased. Maybe there’s a little of that... but as I progressed through the book and nearly every story made me literally laugh out loud it quickly got my attention that this was something special. Even if your not a fan of their music (and I am) - this is a great book. The description of the late 70 What an entertaining book! I’m not used to seeing such a high rating on Goodreads. My initial thought was that it was artificially high because most of the first readers were fans - and maybe a little biased. Maybe there’s a little of that... but as I progressed through the book and nearly every story made me literally laugh out loud it quickly got my attention that this was something special. Even if your not a fan of their music (and I am) - this is a great book. The description of the late 70s early 80s music scene in NYC by itself was very fascinating. As an avid music lover I really liked the details of the club scenes and of interactions with several bands at the time at the time may have been obscure, but were destined to become mainstream in the years to come. Having lived through this era I got a kick out of their descriptions of how different it was to research and otherwise learn about new things, listen to music, and meet and interact with others in a pre-internet world. As I went through the stories I kept thinking to myself “That was funny - it’s going to hard to top that”. Nevertheless, I was thoroughly entertained throughout the entire book. Whether it was stories of high school kids just trying to emulate their musical heroes, bizarre interactions with the music industry execs, weird things that happened on tours, places they lived, people they met along the way, or oh so many pranks - I never felt let down. There is a lot of heart in the book - a lot of “yeah we were young and stupid... we shouldn’t have done that”. Much humility - in that they recognized that they were very fortunate that things played out the way they did. A ton of love for the late Adam Youch (MCA) who was a creative genius that the music world will forever mourn. My initial experience was with the audiobook - which featured a long list of celebrity voice talents to add to the fun and supplement narration by band members Mike D. And Ad Rock. Next I downloaded the eReader version from my library to check out the pictures referenced throughout... and that pretty much sealed the deal with me that I got a physical copy to keep around. “Now here's a little story I've got to tell About three bad brothers you know so well It started way back in history With Adrock, (M.C.A.) and me (Mike D.)” - Paul Revere - Licensed to Ill - Beastie Boys - 1986

  15. 4 out of 5

    megan

    A final love letter to a fellow band member, best friend, brother - one that will allow even passing Beastie Boys fans to rediscover what it was about these punks/rappers that makes them just as relevant 30 years later.

  16. 4 out of 5

    kc

    I laughed, I cried, I mourned MCA. I read this and listened to the audio version at the same time, which was a perfect way to experience the story.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Alison

    I READ A BOOK. Ok, listened. But we'll get to that. In 2020, the year that feels like 27 years...when I have had more free time than in my entire adult life...what is the one thing that I have not been able to do? Read. Or, rather, concentrate on reading. Enter the Beasties. I'm not sure why I thought this was a good time to start an almost 14 hour audiobook, but I did. And it was. This is one of the only times I can think of where I'd recommend getting both the print and audio versions at once. O I READ A BOOK. Ok, listened. But we'll get to that. In 2020, the year that feels like 27 years...when I have had more free time than in my entire adult life...what is the one thing that I have not been able to do? Read. Or, rather, concentrate on reading. Enter the Beasties. I'm not sure why I thought this was a good time to start an almost 14 hour audiobook, but I did. And it was. This is one of the only times I can think of where I'd recommend getting both the print and audio versions at once. Or at least plan to consume both. The audiobook is definitely not to be missed. But I loved going back through the print book to see all of the pictures. And I could just hear Spike Jonze saying, "No, this is the best pic ever of the Beasties." I could ramble about this forever, but I won't. Just read it. And listen to it. Disclaimer: You may feel extremely old the next time you listen to Licensed to Ill.

  18. 4 out of 5

    J.M. Hushour

    This photo sums up how great, incredible, and fun this book is. This is a picture of the Beastie Boys, Slayer, and Run-DMC. Yes, you read that right. The Beastie Book was written by Adrock and Mike D and covers the gamut of their career, with a very welcome, intense focus on their early days in NYC when they were in various hardcore punk-rock bands. The late MCA is at the forefront, which is nice since he couldn't contribute for the obvious reasons and there is ever-present a nice warmth of the This photo sums up how great, incredible, and fun this book is. This is a picture of the Beastie Boys, Slayer, and Run-DMC. Yes, you read that right. The Beastie Book was written by Adrock and Mike D and covers the gamut of their career, with a very welcome, intense focus on their early days in NYC when they were in various hardcore punk-rock bands. The late MCA is at the forefront, which is nice since he couldn't contribute for the obvious reasons and there is ever-present a nice warmth of the two remembering their friend. But, like the photo suggests, this is also a creative and funny look at a very particular era, that late-80s, early-90s period of effervescence in music that got Slayer and Run-DMC into photos together, when everything was reckless and rebellious, pre-Internet, pre-well, everything a younger reader might know. Mike D and Adrock take turns writing brief little articles about their rise, their fall, their rise, their fake moustache closet, MCA's decades-long prank on Adrock involving a haunted demon ring, their relationships with other artists and, most especially, their relationships with each other. One of the best books on music I've ever read.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Simon Sweetman

    Book of the year for me. An emotional read, too. I realised, reading this, I grew up with this band - watched them grow up; they represent a lot to me - they have talent but aren't extraordinary, so it's believable, it always seemed achievable - they were flawed too. We heard them mature, musically, philosophically and spiritually across the albums. And the story was never able to be (correctly) finished. So there's a sadness there. Obviously. And you feel it through these pages and in these voi Book of the year for me. An emotional read, too. I realised, reading this, I grew up with this band - watched them grow up; they represent a lot to me - they have talent but aren't extraordinary, so it's believable, it always seemed achievable - they were flawed too. We heard them mature, musically, philosophically and spiritually across the albums. And the story was never able to be (correctly) finished. So there's a sadness there. Obviously. And you feel it through these pages and in these voices. But there's so much humour and silliness and happiness too. There's joy and experimentation and chance and luck and fun. And there's a love-letter to friendship and there's some great fucking musical taste. It's a book to read again, to listen to over and over (audiobook). To save. To share. To care deeply about.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Jodi

    I have the physical and listened to the audiobook for the Beastie Boys book. You need to see the photos and hear the stories read both by Mike D and Ad-Rock as well as by a cast of unexpected others (Bette Midler... what?). This book includes a Ate-O-Ate cookbook in the middler of it, photo essay by Spike Jonze (a highlight of the audiobook) and so many stories, memories and diverse music references (punk, reggae, ska, rap, funk, etc.) That I want to make so many mix-tapes right now. As Spike sa I have the physical and listened to the audiobook for the Beastie Boys book. You need to see the photos and hear the stories read both by Mike D and Ad-Rock as well as by a cast of unexpected others (Bette Midler... what?). This book includes a Ate-O-Ate cookbook in the middler of it, photo essay by Spike Jonze (a highlight of the audiobook) and so many stories, memories and diverse music references (punk, reggae, ska, rap, funk, etc.) That I want to make so many mix-tapes right now. As Spike says, 'these three friends are magic' and you can feel their creativity and playfulness as you read. They will forever mourn their loss of Adam Yauch who is an inspiration in what one person can do when they have drive to learn, take risks and try new things.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Dr. Detroit

    I can stomach a few Beastie Boys songs - mostly for shits and giggles and after five or six bottles of suds. There's something about the blatant thievery (er, I mean sampling) of Zep in "She's Crafty" and the kiloton cretin teenage bop of "(You Gotta) Fight For Your Right (To Party)" and "No Sleep Till Brooklyn" that still punches all of the neurons. But damned if these guys don't know how to throw a bunch of stories, anecdotes, lists, and photos together, shake well, and spray it all over the ro I can stomach a few Beastie Boys songs - mostly for shits and giggles and after five or six bottles of suds. There's something about the blatant thievery (er, I mean sampling) of Zep in "She's Crafty" and the kiloton cretin teenage bop of "(You Gotta) Fight For Your Right (To Party)" and "No Sleep Till Brooklyn" that still punches all of the neurons. But damned if these guys don't know how to throw a bunch of stories, anecdotes, lists, and photos together, shake well, and spray it all over the room to see what sticks. Most of it does. Back issues of their now-defunct Grand Royal magazine are well worth tracking down as well. Issue #6 can be yours right now for only 200 clams on eBay.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Jason Weber

    What an amazing book! The whole complete history of the Beastie Boys. An absolute must read for any Beastie Boys fan, or music fan. It’s a shame that this did not come out prior to Yauch’s passing, because it would have been great to read his perspective. It’s big, it’s heavy, but you can NOT put this book down! I could read 500 more pages! RIP MCA.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Sandi

    The Beastie Boys Book is a must read if any of the following are true: 1. You wore out your cassette of License to Ill in 1986 2. You miss referring to your friend group as your “posse” 3. You’d be amused by a mock investigation of Cookie Puss by Pulitzer Prize winning author Colson Whitehead 4. You’re interested in reading a (sweet, much deserved) 500+ page love letter to Adam Yauch I can’t believe I waited so long to pick this one up! I listened to the incredible audio AND flipped through the hard The Beastie Boys Book is a must read if any of the following are true: 1. You wore out your cassette of License to Ill in 1986 2. You miss referring to your friend group as your “posse” 3. You’d be amused by a mock investigation of Cookie Puss by Pulitzer Prize winning author Colson Whitehead 4. You’re interested in reading a (sweet, much deserved) 500+ page love letter to Adam Yauch I can’t believe I waited so long to pick this one up! I listened to the incredible audio AND flipped through the hard cover. So worth it!

  24. 5 out of 5

    Scott Semegran

    This massive book of essays, musings, comics, photos, recipes, and more tells the story of Beastie Boys, by band members ADROCK and Mike D (MCA passed away from cancer in 2012), with contributions from Amy Poehler, Spike Jonze, Kate Schellenbach, just to name a few. This book does chronicle the shenanigans most casual readers may expect from the Beastie Boys, but being that this book is a gargantuan 600-page Beastie tome, I don't believe it was intended for a casual reader. It is for beloved fan This massive book of essays, musings, comics, photos, recipes, and more tells the story of Beastie Boys, by band members ADROCK and Mike D (MCA passed away from cancer in 2012), with contributions from Amy Poehler, Spike Jonze, Kate Schellenbach, just to name a few. This book does chronicle the shenanigans most casual readers may expect from the Beastie Boys, but being that this book is a gargantuan 600-page Beastie tome, I don't believe it was intended for a casual reader. It is for beloved fans of Beastie Boys and music in general, as well as a love letter to friendship and New York City (and a love note to Los Angeles, too). The photos and various ephemera are enjoyable but I particularly liked the self-awareness put on display by ADROCK (Adam Horowitz) and Mike D (Michael Diamond) about their friendships, their place in time in NYC when they were kids, their luck at being in the right place at the right time, and their adolescent mistakes. All of their misogynistic jokes on their early recordings and videos still haunt them to this day and they gracefully retell many of the steps they took to fix their youthful transgressions with their friends. Early band member Kate Schellenbach is given a chance to tell her side of the story of why she felt she was "fired" from the band and her observations of that time. It's an affecting part of their story. And I clearly remember hearing their song Sure Shot for the first time with its infamous MCA verse, "I want to say a little something that's long overdue / the disrespect to women has got to be through / To all the mothers and the sisters and the wives and friends / I wanna offer my love and respect till the end" and thinking to myself, 'They're growing up. That's cool.' For me, Beastie Boys were and still are a big part of my musical life. I have enjoyed all of their music and videos since She's On It. I was 15 when License to Ill came out. My friends and I memorized all the lyrics on Paul's Boutique. Hearing Check Your Head for the first time in my car BLEW MY MIND! Ill Communication continued blowing my mind. I saw them at Lollapalooza in '94 at their Houston stop. I also saw their In the Round show in Austin at the Frank Erwin Center. To say the Beastie Boys are part of my life is an understatement. So, reading this book not only gave me more insight about their lives, it also sparked my own memories of my life as it was partly soundtracked by their music. What a glorious soundtrack that is! If you're a fan of Beastie Boys or music in general, then I highly recommend this book.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Kelda Giavaras

    If I could give this book 6 stars I would! As a special shout out to myself, as I was listening to this book, I was reading War and Peace by Tolstoy at the same time....well not at the SAME time, but you know what I mean. Isn't that so punk rock of me? I can't say enough, about what intelligent, animated storytellers both Michael Diamond and Adam Horvitz are. I'm not even a Beastie Boys fan, but I was completely immersed in their tale. Reading about the music scene in the late 80's and 90's was If I could give this book 6 stars I would! As a special shout out to myself, as I was listening to this book, I was reading War and Peace by Tolstoy at the same time....well not at the SAME time, but you know what I mean. Isn't that so punk rock of me? I can't say enough, about what intelligent, animated storytellers both Michael Diamond and Adam Horvitz are. I'm not even a Beastie Boys fan, but I was completely immersed in their tale. Reading about the music scene in the late 80's and 90's was like taking a trip back home for me. I LOVED making mix tapes for my friends and it was such a treat to read about someone else's experience with the importance of it as well: choosing just the right songs, finding just the right cover to put inside the cassette, either cutting something out of a magazine, or drawing something myself. It was magical! The heartfelt passages of Adam Horvitz and Michael Diamond's grief over the passing of their friend, band mate, and brother, Adam Yauch were prolific and meaningful. There were multiple narrators including John C Reilly, Rosie Perez, and Spike Jonze to name just a few. The only drawback to the audio version is that you don't get to see the excellent photos compiled in the print version, including the awesome mini cookbook by Roy Choi. The only logical answer is to listen to it on audio, then read it in print when you are done. Highly recommend.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Nat

    This book is magnificent, the platonic ideal of the music oral history genre. It's a love letter to friendship, to music (all of it), to New York City, to beat-up musical gear, to mixtapes, to exploration. It is, most of all, a love letter from two fellow travelers to the companion no longer by their side. Every page explodes with joy and creativity and life. It perfectly captures the feeling of being 16 years old and finding music that's strange and foreign but also completely familiar, a kindr This book is magnificent, the platonic ideal of the music oral history genre. It's a love letter to friendship, to music (all of it), to New York City, to beat-up musical gear, to mixtapes, to exploration. It is, most of all, a love letter from two fellow travelers to the companion no longer by their side. Every page explodes with joy and creativity and life. It perfectly captures the feeling of being 16 years old and finding music that's strange and foreign but also completely familiar, a kindred soul beckoning across decades from the grooves of a dusty LP from the bargain bin. I've always loved the Beasties, but wouldn't have necessarily pegged them as one of my top-tier artists (although that may have changed over the course of this journey). But I'll be reading this book again, and soon. Shoutout to the audiobook, which is read (no joke) by Steve Buscemi, Jon Stewart, Kim Gordon, Maya Rudolph, Amy Poehler, Elvis Costello, and many more. This is a journey well worth taking. The contents of the final chapters--and what's absent from them--will stick with me for a long time.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Scott Hitchcock

    4.5*'s I highly recommend doing the audiobook for this one. They use over a hundred guest narrators in addition to the group including everybody from Ben Stiller, Wanda Sykes, Snoop Dogg, Chuck D.......all the way to Bette Midler. Their influences are so vast and varied. They made me want to go out and listen to bands I haven't heard in years ranging from Sly and Family Stone, Black Flag, Bad Brains, The Jam, The Cure........crazy to think they started out as a punk band. Being they're only 6-8 y 4.5*'s I highly recommend doing the audiobook for this one. They use over a hundred guest narrators in addition to the group including everybody from Ben Stiller, Wanda Sykes, Snoop Dogg, Chuck D.......all the way to Bette Midler. Their influences are so vast and varied. They made me want to go out and listen to bands I haven't heard in years ranging from Sly and Family Stone, Black Flag, Bad Brains, The Jam, The Cure........crazy to think they started out as a punk band. Being they're only 6-8 years older and Boston and NY are pretty close I remember so many of the clubs and small bands that didn't make it which they reference. I had forgotten about Carvel and Cookie Puss. Such a great read and they are so humble still. I love the homage they pay to everybody from Led Zeppelin to the Clash to Jackson Brown and especially to Run DMC. It's really a shame MCA passed far too young.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Jamil

    Absolutely Phenomenal. The cast of thousands reading the audio book completely enhanced the experience. They created such joy. But most of all, I appreciated the love shown to Yauch. The loss of a close friend & collaborator, that really resonated with me. Feeling lost and bereft in the wake of a loss of that magnitude. The Beasties somehow remained celebratory, even after that devastation. Their lives are a tribute to their friendship. Something I hope that I can emulate.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Laura

    So great! I am nowhere near what you’d call the Beastie Boys’ biggest fan. Still, I had no trouble following along, & thoroughly enjoyed hearing their story. A tribute to MCA - an apology to the people they wronged - a yearbook full of scribblings from their peers - a love letter to their inspirations - it is full of awe at the life they led, the tricks they pulled off, and the things they accomplished. It’s also an immersion into a bygone era that may never come around again. Listen to this on a So great! I am nowhere near what you’d call the Beastie Boys’ biggest fan. Still, I had no trouble following along, & thoroughly enjoyed hearing their story. A tribute to MCA - an apology to the people they wronged - a yearbook full of scribblings from their peers - a love letter to their inspirations - it is full of awe at the life they led, the tricks they pulled off, and the things they accomplished. It’s also an immersion into a bygone era that may never come around again. Listen to this on audio - you’ll love it ♥️

  30. 4 out of 5

    Jeff Cameron

    You know, I didn’t know that much about the b-boys, but I really had fun reading this. “What would Yauch do?”

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