November 15, 2019

20,000 vinyl LPs 195: Beastie Boys ~ License to Ill

vinyl LP front cover
Cover Art by World B. Omés 
photo of album cover by Styrous®

On November 15, 1986, the Beastie Boys released their first album, License to Ill, and as they say, the rest is history. It became the first rap LP to top the Billboard album chart. It is one of Columbia Records' fastest-selling debut records to date and was certified Diamond by the Recording Industry Association of America in 2015 for shipping over ten million copies in the United States.      

I wasn't, and still am not, into rap but the song, Fight For Your Right inflamed my hard rock appetite and I LOVED it! There is a surreal video on YouTube, Fight For Your Right (Revisited), that is an epic of inane insanity running at 30 minutes. With it's beer drinking orgy, golden shower innuendo and police brutality, it verges on disgusting but it's fun to watch (link below).      

When I saw the album cover I had to have it. it is a gatefold format and the full album cover, front to back, features the Beastie Boys' private jet crashing head-on into the side of a mountain, appearing as an extinguished joint.     

vinyl LP gatefold cover
Cover Art by World B. Omés
photo of gatefold cover  by Styrous®

The idea for the album's cover came from the album's producer, Rick Rubin, after reading the Led Zeppelin biography, Hammer of the Gods. The artwork was created by Stephen Byram and World B. Omes.       

Rick Rubin (w/boombox) w/the Beastie Boys - 1985 
photographer unknown

The album cover was featured in the Storm Thorgerson and Aubrey Powell book, 100 Best Album Covers. The cover design has since been appropriated by fellow rapper, Eminem, for the cover of his 2018 album, Kamikaze.  

An interesting fact: if the album cover is held up to a mirror, the plane’s tail number, 3MTA3, reads ‘Eat Me.         

vinyl LP front cover (reversed)
Cover Art by World B. Omés
photo of album cover by Styrous®

vinyl LP gatefold interior
photo by Sunny Bak
photo of gatefold interior  by Styrous®

When they started out, they were just a bunch of Jewish kids trying to make each other laugh with nonsensical dorm-room-raps.           
Fight For Your Right, written by Adam Yauch and band friend Tom "Tommy Triphammer" Cushman (who appears in the video), was intended as an ironic parody of "party" and "attitude"-themed songs, such as Smokin' in the Boys Room and I Wanna Rock. However, the irony was lost on most listeners. Mike D commented that, "The only thing that upsets me is that we might have reinforced certain values of some people in our audience when our own values were actually totally different. There were tons of guys singing along to 'Fight for Your Right' who were oblivious to the fact it was a total goof on them."           

 Beastie Boys ~ 1987
photographer unknown

The group originally wanted to title the album Don't Be a Faggot, but Columbia Records refused to release the album under this title—arguing that it was homophobic—and pressured Russell Simmons, the Beastie Boys' manager and head of Def Jam Recordings at the time, into forcing them to choose another name. Adam Horovitz has since apologized for the album's earlier title.       
In 1998, the album was selected as one of The Source's 100 Best Rap Albums. It is the only album by a Jewish hip-hop act to receive 5 mics from The Source. In 2003, the album was ranked number 217 on Rolling Stone magazine's list of the 500 greatest albums of all time and 219 in a 2012 revised list. In 2013 the magazine named it the best debut album of all time. Vibe included it in Vibe's 100 Essential Albums of the 20th Century. Q gave the album four out of five stars, saying "Licensed to Ill remains the world's only punk rock rap album, arguably superior to Never Mind the Bollocks ... knowing that apathy and slovenliness were just around the corner." Melody Maker gave the album a positive review, saying "There's lots of self-reverential bragging, more tenuous rhymes than are usually permitted by law and, most importantly of all, an unshakably glorious celebration of being alive ... A surprisingly enduring classic." In 2002, Pitchfork ranked the album at #41 in its list of the "Top 100 Albums of the 1980s", despite their prior unflattering review of the album. In the 2018 edition of the "Top 200 Albums of the 1980s", the album placed #103.     

vinyl LP, side 1
photo by Styrous® 

A year before the album was released, the Beastie Boys toured with Madonna, it didn’t work. Her fans were bewildered by the pairing, and the trio spent most of the tour being heckled and booed off stage. Not that they cared, especially Ad-Rock who made out with Madonna in a backstage bathroom (link below).          

vinyl LP label, side 1
photo by Styrous®

vinyl LP label, side 2
photo by Styrous®
Side 1:

A1 - Rhymin & Stealin - 4:08
A2 - The New Style - 4:36
A3 - She's Crafty - 3:36
A4 - Posse In Effect - 2:27
A5 - Slow Ride, Horns, Percussion – Danny*, Keene*, Tony* - 2:56
A6 - Girls - 2:14
A7 - Fight For Your Right - 3:28

Side 2:

B1 - No Sleep Till Brooklyn, Lead Guitar – Kerry King - 4:07
B2 - Paul Revere - 3:42
B3 - Hold It Now, Hit It - 3:29
B4 - Brass Monkey - 2:38
B5 - Slow And Low - 3:37
B6 - Time To Get Ill - 3:37

Companies, etc.

    Distributed By – CBS Records
    Distributed By – CBS Disques S.A.
    Phonographic Copyright (p) – CBS Inc.
    Copyright (c) – CBS Inc.
    Made By – Shorewood Packaging Co. Ltd.
    Pressed By – CBS Pressing Plant, Aston Clinton
    Published By – Def Jam Music
    Published By – Brooklyn Dust Music


    Art Direction – Stephen Byram
    Artwork [Cover Art] – World B. Omés
    Co-producer – Beastie Boys
    Engineer [Head] – Steve Ett
    Mastered By – Howie Weinberg
    Photography By [Gatefold] – Sunny Bak
    Photography By [Sleeve] – Ricky Powell (2)
    Producer – Rick Rubin
    Written-By – A. Horovitz* (tracks: B2), Beastie Boys (tracks: A1 to B1, B3, B4, B6), D. McDaniels* (tracks: B2, B5), J. Simmons* (tracks: B2, B5), Rick Rubin


Copies may include a poster.

Issued with printed inner sleeve.

The labels are slightly different from this similar version, specifically:
• Artist name and album title are listed on the same line:
Beastie Boys - Licensed To Ill [on both sides]
• Below the track list includes the text:
(1-7) Def Jam Music/Brooklyn Dust Music [on side A]
(1-6) Def Jam Music/Brooklyn Dust Music [on side B]

'This album is dedicated to Doris Keefe Horovitz'

Made In England.
Barcode and Other Identifiers

    Barcode: 5 099745 006212
    Matrix / Runout (Runout side A, etched): DEF 450062-1 A1 1 ü <
    Matrix / Runout (Runout side B, etched): DEF 450062-1 B1 5 B
    Label Code: LC 8427
    Rights Society: MCPS
    Rights Society: BIEM
    Distribution Code: CB 281
    Price Code: 58

Beastie Boys ‎– Licensed To Ill
Label: Def Jam Recordings ‎– 450062 1, CBS ‎– 450062 1
Format: Vinyl, LP, Album, Gatefold
Country: UK & Europe
Released: 1986
Genre: Hip Hop, Rock
The album was certified Platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) on February 2, 1987 and eventually was certified Diamond on March 4, 2015. The single Brass Monkey was certified Gold for shipment of 500,000+ sales. In 2012, in the week following the death of Adam Yauch, which subsequently resulted in a surge in sales of Beastie Boys albums, Licensed to Ill reached number 1 on the Billboard Catalog Albums chart. The album also re-entered the Billboard 200 chart at number 18.          

In 2012, the Beastie Boys were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.         

Viewfinder links:      
Led Zeppelin      
Net links:      

Beastie Boys blog  
AV Club ~ 30 years later, how does Licensed To Ill hold up?
Cue Point ~ Licensed to Ill: A Complicated Legacy     
Hip Hop DX ~ Beastie Boys' License To Ill Impact       
MoshCam ~ 8 Things You Didn’t Know About Licensed To Ill 
NY Daily News ~ Licensed to Ill, first rap album to reach No. 1   
Pitchfork ~ License to Ill review      
Punk News ~ Licensed to Ill review      
Rolling Stone ~ License to Ill review      
Sputnik Music ~ License to Ill review             
YouTube links:       
Rhymin & Stealin      
The New Style     
She's Crafty         
Posse In Effect            
Slow Ride           
Girls (Album Version)              
(You Gotta ) Fight For Your Right (To Party)       
No Sleep Till Brooklyn 
Paul Revere
Hold It Now, Hit It                
The Beastie Boys ~  
          Fight For Your Right (Revisited) Full Length (30 min.)   
          The Story Behind LIcense to Ill      
The History of the Beastie Boys     
Styrous® ~ Friday, November 15, 2019