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: ‘Three bad brothers you know so well’

A Ted-Talk style documentary reflecting on how Beastie Boys came to be
Courtesy of IMDb.

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

It began back in 1978 when three New York City teenagers: Adam Yauch, Adam Horovitz and Michael Diamond formed a group known as the Beastie Boys. Before Beastie Boys became the influential hip-hop group known and loved by many, they were a hardcore punk group. Influenced by his love of 70s English punk rock band “The Clash”, Adam Yauch also known as MCA, is the one who created the band. Throughout the film, Diamond and Horovitz repeatedly mention that it was Yauch’s idea for the band.

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

‘Beastie Boys’ is no longer releasing music since Adam ‘MCA’ Yauch passed away from salivary gland 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 joke song put the three on the map, leading to the first major album “Licensed to Ill.”

Their 1986 album “Licensed to Ill” holds their most popular songs like  “Fight for Your Right,” “No Sleep til Brooklyn” and “Paul Revere”. This album led the group to open for Madonna and 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 reflect on how the success of  “Licensed to Ill” changed them into the bratty, obnoxious, “party-bros” they were calling out. They mention that as they toured and toured, they lost their true selves, to the point where Yauch 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 mention that Yauch was the real heart of the band.

In the second act, the group reflects on how they changed their sound and became 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 the challenges they faced as a band, they stuck together. They describe Yauch in a way that shows their admiration and a strong sense of love that will never die out.

As they get emotional remembering their friend, the audience can feel the love and passion for music they share. Horovitz and Diamond always seek to ask the question: What Would Yauch Do? As they move down memory lane, the two always connect to how wonderful of a friend and person Yauch was. They recall that Yauch was really the person that brought the group together.

Beastie Boyshas been one of the most influential hip-hop groups. Through the rhymes and lyricism on “Licensed to Ill” to the succinct mixture of rap and rock on “Ill Communication,” the group demonstrates real talent. The film  “Beastie Boys Story”’ tells the tale of the three teenagers, inspired by The Clash, who became some of the biggest names in hip-hop history.

Jonze’s documentary not only provides a nostalgic trip for people who grew up during the 80s, 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 on life.

Sydney Warren can be reached at [email protected].

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