Licensed to Ill

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Licensed to Ill
Studio album by Beastie Boys
Released November 15, 1986 (1986-11-15)
Recorded 1986
Genre Hip hop, rap rock
Length 44:33
Label Def Jam, Columbia
Producer Rick Rubin, Beastie Boys
Beastie Boys chronology
Rock Hard EP
(1985)
Licensed to Ill
(1986)
Paul's Boutique
(1989)
Singles from Licensed to Ill
  1. "Hold It Now, Hit It"
    Released: April 15, 1986
  2. "The New Style"
    Released: June 6, 1986
  3. "Paul Revere"
    Released: August 13, 1986
  4. "Brass Monkey"
    Released: January 5, 1987
  5. "(You Gotta) Fight for Your Right (To Party!)"
    Released: February 22, 1987
  6. "No Sleep Till Brooklyn"
    Released: March 1, 1987
  7. "Girls"
    Released: May 6, 1987

Licensed to Ill is the debut album by the Beastie Boys. The album was released on November 15, 1986. It was the first rap LP to top the Billboard album chart. It was also one of Columbia Records' fastest-selling debut records to date and eventually sold over 9 million copies in the United States.

Background[edit]

The full album cover, front to back, features a Boeing 727 — with "Beastie Boys" emblazoned on the tail — crashing head-on into the side of a mountain, appearing as an extinguished joint.[1] The tail of the plane has the Def Jam logo and the legend '3MTA3' which spells 'EATME' when viewed in a mirror.[1] The livery of the plane is based on that of American Airlines.[1]

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.[2][3] Adam Horovitz has since apologized for the album's earlier title.[4]

Kerry King of Slayer made an appearance on the album playing lead guitar on "No Sleep Till Brooklyn" and appeared in the music video which is a parody of glam metal.[5] The name of the song itself is a spoof on Motörhead's No Sleep 'til Hammersmith album.[5] King's appearance on the track came about because Rick Rubin was producing both bands simultaneously (Slayer's Reign in Blood was originally released on Def Jam).[5]

CBS/Fox Video released a video album of the five Licensed to Ill videos, plus "She's on It" in 1987 to capitalize on the album's success.[6] A laserdisc version was also released in Japan.[6] All versions of the CBS/Fox release are currently out of print because the rights to the album passed from Columbia and Sony Music to Universal Music Group, and also because of the acrimonious nature of the band's departure from Def Jam Records.[6] Until the 2005 release of the CD/DVD Solid Gold Hits, none of the Def Jam-era videos had been included on any subsequent Beastie Boys video compilations.[6] The Solid Gold Hits DVD includes the videos for "Fight for Your Right" and "No Sleep Till Brooklyn", as well as a live version of "Brass Monkey" from a 2004 concert.[6]

Reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
Allmusic 5/5 stars[7]
Pitchfork Media 7.8/10.0[8]
Q 4/5 stars[9]
Rhapsody favorable[10]
Robert Christgau A+[11]
Rolling Stone favorable[12]
The Rolling Stone Album Guide 5/5 stars[13][14]
RapReviews 10/10 stars[15]
The Source 5/5 stars[16]

In 1998, the album was selected as one of The Source '​s 100 Best Rap Albums.[17] It is the only album by a Jewish hip-hop act to receive 5 mics from The Source.[16] In 2003, the album was ranked number 217 on Rolling Stone magazine's list of the 500 greatest albums of all time.[18] Vibe included it in Vibe's 100 Essential Albums of the 20th Century.[19] 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."[20] 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."[21] In 2002, Pitchfork Media ranked the album at #41 in its list of the "Top 100 Albums of the 1980s", despite their prior unflattering review of the album.[22]

In 2006, Q magazine placed the album at number 16 in its list of "40 Best Albums of the '80s".[23] In 2012, Slant Magazine listed the album at number 12 on its list of "Best Albums of the 1980s" saying "Rife with layer upon layer of sampling, start-stop transitions, and aggressive beats, it helped transform the genre from a direct dialogue between MC and DJ into a piercing, multi-threaded narrative" and "helped set an exciting template for the future".[24] Eminem said the album was one of his favorites of all time and said it changed hip hop.[25]

Commercial performance[edit]

The album was certified platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America on February 2, 1987 and eventually certified 9x multi-platinum on September 5, 2001.[26] The single "Brass Monkey" was certified Gold for shipment of 500,000+ sales.[26] In 2012, in the week following Adam Yauch's death, which subsequently resulted in a surge in sales of Beastie Boys albums, Licensed to Ill reached number 1 on Billboard's Catalog Albums chart.[27] The album also re-entered the Billboard 200 chart at number 18.[28]

Track listing[edit]

All songs written and composed by Beastie Boys and Rick Rubin, except where noted. 

Side one
No. Title Length
1. "Rhymin & Stealin"   4:08
2. "The New Style"   4:36
3. "She's Crafty"   3:35
4. "Posse in Effect"   2:27
5. "Slow Ride"   2:56
6. "Girls"   2:14
7. "(You Gotta) Fight for Your Right (To Party!)"   3:28
8. "No Sleep till Brooklyn"   4:07
9. "Paul Revere" (Adam Horovitz, Darryl McDaniels, Rubin, Joseph Simmons) 3:41
10. "Hold It Now, Hit It"   3:26
11. "Brass Monkey"   2:37
12. "Slow and Low" (McDaniels, Rubin, Simmons) 3:38
13. "Time to Get Ill"   3:37

Personnel[edit]

  • Beastie Boys – group, producer
  • Joe Blaney – mixing
  • Steven Ett – audio engineer
  • Kerry Kinglead guitar on "No Sleep till Brooklyn"
  • Rick Rubin – producer
  • Steve Byram – art direction
  • Sunny Bak – photography
  • World B. Omes (David Gambale) – cover art
  • Keene Carse - Trombone
  • Danny Lipman - Trumpet
  • Tony Orbach - Tenor Sax

Charts[edit]

Chart (1986) Peak
position
US Billboard 200[29] 1
US Top R&B/Hip Hop Albums (Billboard)[30] 2

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c K. Thor Jensen (2011-03-24). "Licensed To Ill - Secrets Of Album Covers". UGO.com. Retrieved 2014-01-17. 
  2. ^ Plummer, Sean (September 16, 2011). "Beastie Boys "Licensed to Ill" – The most controversial lyrics in music". MSN Canada. Microsoft. Retrieved May 5, 2013. 
  3. ^ Light, Alan (September 4, 1998). "The Story of Yo: The Oral History of the Beastie Boys". Spin. Spin Media. Retrieved May 4, 2013. 
  4. ^ Williams, Zoe (April 29, 2003). "Hiphopophobia". The Guardian (London). ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved November 24, 2007. 
  5. ^ a b c "Beastie Boys Biography". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 2014-01-17. 
  6. ^ a b c d e Klep One (2013-11-15). "Since 1984: Beastie Boys - "Licensed To Ill" Released 27 Years Ago! Def Jam". Defjam.com. Retrieved 2014-01-17. 
  7. ^ Erlewine, Stephen Thomas. "Beastie Boys: Licensed to Ill > Review" at AllMusic. Retrieved October 12, 2011.
  8. ^ Leone, Dominique (April 15, 2004). "Beastie Boys: Licensed to Ill". Pitchfork Media. Retrieved October 12, 2011. 
  9. ^ "Beastie Boys - Licensed to Ill CD Album". Cduniverse.com. 1995-03-28. Retrieved 2014-01-17. 
  10. ^ "Licensed To Ill: Beastie Boys". Rhapsody. Retrieved October 12, 2011. 
  11. ^ Christgau, Robert. "The Beastie Boys: Licensed to Ill". RobertChristgau.com. Retrieved October 12, 2011. 
  12. ^ Coleman, Mark (February 27, 1991). "Licensed To Ill". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 2012-04-06. 
  13. ^ Brackett, Nathan; Hoard, Christian David (2004). The new Rolling Stone album guide (4th revised ed.). New York: Fireside. ISBN 978-0-7432-0169-8. 
  14. ^ "Beastie Boys: Album Guide". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 2012-04-06. 
  15. ^ Young, Jayson (February 5, 2002). "Beastie Boys :: Licensed to Ill". Back to the Lab. RapReviews.com. Retrieved October 12, 2011. 
  16. ^ a b "Beastie Boys: Licensed To Ill". The Source (New York). 1986. ISSN 1063-2085. Retrieved October 12, 2011. 
  17. ^ "100 Best Rap Albums". The Source (New York) (#100). January 1998. ISSN 1063-2085. Retrieved November 24, 2007. 
  18. ^ "500 Greatest Albums of All Time". Rolling Stone (Straight Arrow) (Special Issue). November 2003. ISSN 0035-791X. Archived from the original on August 21, 2006. Retrieved November 24, 2007. 
  19. ^ Vibe (New York City: InterMedia Partners). December 1999. p. 158. ISSN 1070-4701. 
  20. ^ Q (Bauer Media). September 1994. p. 123. ISSN 0955-4955. 
  21. ^ Melody Maker (London: Holborn). July 22, 1995. p. 35. ISSN 0025-9012. 
  22. ^ "Staff Lists: Top 100 Albums of the 1980s | Features". Pitchfork. 2002-11-20. Retrieved 2014-01-17. 
  23. ^ Q (241) (Bauer Media). August 2006. ISSN 0955-4955. 
  24. ^ "The 100 Best Albums of the 1980s | Feature". Slant Magazine. Retrieved 2014-01-17. 
  25. ^ "Eminem talks about his upcoming 8th solo album (2012 Interview)". YouTube. 2012-07-29. Retrieved 2014-01-17. 
  26. ^ a b "RIAA News Room - Pass The Mic…Beastie Boys Are Still 'Licensed' - Oct 02, 2001". Riaa.com. 2001-10-02. Retrieved 2014-01-17. 
  27. ^ "Catalog Albums - Week of May 19, 2012". Billboard. Retrieved 2012-05-10. 
  28. ^ "Billboard 200 - Week of May 19, 2012". Billboard. Retrieved 2012-05-10. 
  29. ^ "Beastie Boys Album & Song Chart History" Billboard 200 for Beastie Boys. Prometheus Global Media. Retrieved 2013-09-18.
  30. ^ "Beastie Boys Album & Song Chart History" Billboard Top R&B/Hip Hop Albums for Beastie Boys. Prometheus Global Media. Retrieved September 19, 2013.
Preceded by
Slippery When Wet by Bon Jovi
Billboard 200 number-one album
March 7 – April 24, 1987
Succeeded by
The Joshua Tree by U2