Massachusetts Daily Collegian

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A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

‘Beastie Boys Story’ review: Three bad brothers you know so well

A Ted-Talk style documentary reflecting on how Beastie Boys came to be
Image courtesy of IMDB.

In April 2020, Apple TV+ released “Beastie Boys Story,” a live documentary hosted by Adam Horovitz and Michael Diamond, where the two reflect on the making of their band along with their four-decade-long friendship.

The story began back in 1978 when three New York City teenagers, Adam Yauch, Adam Horovitz and Michael Diamond, formed a band known as “Beastie Boys.” Before Beastie Boys became the influential hip-hop group known and loved by many, it was a hardcore punk group. Influenced by his love of “The Clash,” Adam Yauch, also known as MCA, created the band. Throughout the film, Diamond and Horovitz repeatedly mention that it was Yauch’s idea for the band; without him, Beastie Boys wouldn’t be here today.

In collaboration with filmmaker Spike Jonze, Horovitz and Diamond created a live documentary that was styled like a Ted Talk. Two of the three band members stood up on stage at Kings Theatre in Brooklyn in front of a screen that displayed photos of the group from when they began to when they ended.

The Beastie Boys are no longer releasing music since Adam ‘MCA’ Yauch passed away from parotid cancer in 2012.

The film began with the two explaining how they met, their influences and what made them want to start this band. In 1983, Beastie Boys hit airwaves with their debut single “Cooky Puss,” based on the Carvel Ice Cream cake. This satirical, comedic song put the three on the map, leading to the group’s first major album, “Licensed to Ill.”

Their 1986 album “Licensed to Ill” holds popular songs like “Fight for Your Right,” “No Sleep til Brooklyn” and “Paul Revere.” This album led the group to open for Madonna, which helped them ascend into fame. “Fight for Your Right,” a song making fun of party culture and party bros, ended up turning the three into the people they were making fun of.

Horovitz and Diamond reflected on how the success of “Licensed to Ill” changed them into the bratty, obnoxious “party bros” they were calling out. The more they toured, the more they lost their true selves. This led Yauch to partially quit the band so he could recenter himself.

The two quoted Yauch throughout the performance saying, “I would rather be a hypocrite than be the same person.” Horovitz and Diamond mentioned that Yauch was the real heart of the band.

In the second act, the group reflected on how they changed their sound and began a lot more intentional with their music. Even though their second album, “Paul’s Boutique,” was a commercial failure, it gained a cult following. They refined their sound even more and created “Check Your Head” and “Ill Communication.”

The beauty of “Beastie Boys Story” lies in the retelling of the friendship between the three men. Even through all of the challenges they faced as a band, they stuck together. Towards the end of the film they mention types of friends. They describe Yauch in a way that shows their admiration and strong sense of love will never die out.

As they get emotional remembering their friend, the audience felt the love and passion for music they share. Horovitz and Diamond always seem to ask the question: “What Would Yauch Do?” As they moved down memory lane, the two reflected on how wonderful of a friend and person Yauch was.

Jonze’s documentary is a nostalgia trip for people who grew up during the 80’s, but also for those who became fans after. He was able to make a creative and entertaining show that truly expresses the musical change this group had on the genre. The documentary is full of heart and offers a great perspective of life.

Sydney Warren can be reached at [email protected].

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