Check Your Head

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Check Your Head
Beastieboys checkyourhead.jpg
Studio album by
ReleasedApril 21, 1992
StudioG-Son Studios, Atwater Village, California
ProducerMario Caldato, Jr.
Beastie Boys chronology
Paul's Boutique
Check Your Head
Ill Communication
Singles from Check Your Head
  1. "Pass the Mic"
    Released: April 7, 1992
  2. "So What'cha Want"
    Released: June 2, 1992
  3. "Jimmy James"
    Released: August 28, 1992
  4. "Gratitude"
    Released: October 4, 1992
  5. "Professor Booty"
    Released: December 15, 1992

Check Your Head is the third studio album by American rap rock group Beastie Boys, released on April 21, 1992 by Capitol Records. Three years elapsed between the releases of the band's second studio album Paul's Boutique and Check Your Head, which was recorded at the G-Son Studios in Atwater Village in 1991 under the guidance of producer Mario Caldato Jr., the group's third producer in three albums. Less sample-heavy than their previous records, the album features instrumental contributions from all three members: Adam Horovitz on guitar, Adam Yauch on bass guitar, and Mike Diamond on drums.

It was re-released in 2009 in a number of formats. The re-release featured 16 b-sides and rarities as well as a commentary track.[6] The album is extensively broken down track-by-track by Diamond, Yauch, Horovitz, Caldato, and frequent Beasties collaborator Money Mark in Brian Coleman's book Check the Technique.[7]


In contrast to their previous album, Paul's Boutique, the Beastie Boys returned somewhat stylistically to their punk roots on Check Your Head, playing their own instruments for the first time on record since their early EPs (although they did provide live instrumentation on at least two songs on Paul's Boutique).[8] Hence, photographer Glen E. Friedman's idea to shoot photos with their instrument cases (one of which became the cover).[8] Supposedly, a trading card with Norman Schwarzkopf, Jr. from a set of Desert Storm trading cards was the inspiration for the title.[8]

The album was their first to be fully co-produced by Mario Caldato Jr. Caldato was an engineer on Paul's Boutique and was credited as producer on that album's track "Ask for Janice".[8] The album also marks the first appearance of longtime collaborator keyboardist Money Mark.[8] The Beastie Boys toured with the Rollins Band and Cypress Hill in early 1992 to support Check Your Head.[8]

Critical reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Review scores
AllMusic5/5 stars[1]
The A.V. ClubA−[9]
Chicago Tribune3/4 stars[10]
Entertainment WeeklyD[11]
Mojo4/5 stars[12]
The Philadelphia Inquirer3.5/4 stars[13]
Q5/5 stars[14]
Rolling Stone4/5 stars[15]
The Rolling Stone Album Guide3.5/5 stars[16]

Kevin Powell of Rolling Stone called Check Your Head the Beastie Boys' "most unconventional outing to date" and stated that "the cross-pollination of styles on Check Your Head is confusing at times, yet the album achieves distinction because of its ingenuity."[18] Greg Kot of the Chicago Tribune wrote that the group were showing "surprising resiliency and versatility", noting their new musical direction on Check Your Head and singling out Money Mark's performance on the album for praise, referring to him as the album's "secret weapon".[10] Entertainment Weekly's David Browne, on the other hand, panned the album as a "muddled, clanking mess".[11] Robert Christgau of The Village Voice called Check Your Head a "great concept" but felt that "the execution is halfway there at best",[19] later assigning it a "neither" rating, indicating an album that "may impress once or twice with consistent craft or an arresting track or two. Then it won't."[20]

Spin ranked Check Your Head at number four on their list of the 20 best albums of the year.[21] It ranked fifth place on The Village Voice's year-end Pazz & Jop critics' poll.[22] Spin later ranked the album number 12 on their list of the 90 greatest albums of the 1990s,[23] while Alternative Press ranked the album at number 23 on their list of the top 99 albums of 1985 to 1995.[24] Pitchfork ranked the album at number 34 on their list of the Top 100 Albums of the 1990s.[25] In a retrospective review, Stephen Thomas Erlewine of AllMusic called Check Your Head "a whirlwind tour through the Beasties' pop-culture obsessions, but instead of spinning into Technicolor fantasies, it's earth-bound D.I.Y. that makes it all seem equally accessible — which is a big reason why it turned out to be an alt-rock touchstone of the '90s, something that both set trends and predicted them."[1] It was ranked number 261 in Rolling Stone's 2020 edition of their 'The 500 Greatest Albums of All-Time' list (though it was not ranked in the original 2003 list or the 2012 revision).[26]

Track listing[edit]

All tracks written by Beastie Boys (Adam Yauch, Michael Diamond, Adam Horovitz) and Mark Ramos Nishita, except where noted.

1."Jimmy James"
2."Funky Boss" 1:35
3."Pass the Mic"
  • Beastie Boys
  • Caldato
  • Beastie Boys
  • Cushman
5."Lighten Up" 2:41
6."Finger Lickin' Good"
  • Beastie Boys
  • Caldato
  • Fite
  • Hill
7."So What'cha Want"Beastie Boys3:37
8."The Biz vs. The Nuge"0:33
9."Time for Livin'"Sylvester Stewart, Mackie Jayson, Miles Kelly, Noah Evans1:48
10."Something's Got to Give"
  • Beastie Boys
  • Caldato
  • Nishita
11."The Blue Nun"Beastie Boys0:32
12."Stand Together"
  • Beastie Boys
  • Caldato
13."POW" 2:13
14."The Maestro"Beastie Boys2:52
15."Groove Holmes" 2:33
16."Live at P.J.'s" 3:18
17."Mark on the Bus"Nishita1:05
18."Professor Booty"
  • Beastie Boys
  • Caldato
19."In 3's" 2:23
20."Namasté" 4:01
Japanese bonus tracks
21."Dub the Mic" (Instrumental) 
22."Drunken Praying Mantis Style" 
23."Skills to Pay the Bills (Pass the Mic, Pt. 2)" 
24."Netty's Girl" 
2009 Remastered Edition Bonus Disc
1."Dub the Mic" (Instrumental)4:30
2."Pass the Mic (Pt. 2, Skills to Pay the Bills)"4:25
3."Drunken Praying Mantis Style"2:40
4."Netty's Girl"3:24
5."The Skills to Pay the Bills" (Original Version)3:16
6."So What'cha Want" (Soul Assassins Remix Version)4:08
7."So What'cha Want" (Butt Naked Version)3:29
8."Groove Holmes" (Live vs The Biz)6:13
9."So What'cha Want" (All The Way Live Freestyle Version)3:39
10."Stand Together" (Live at French's Tavern, Sydney, Australia)2:32
11."Finger Lickin' Good" (Government Cheese Remix)4:15
12."Gratitude" (Live at Budokan 9-16-92)4:28
13."Honky Rink"2:13
14."Jimmy James" (Original Version)3:44
15."Boomin' Granny"2:18
16."Drinkin' Wine"4:42


Beastie Boys
Additional personnel
  • Marcel Hall - Vocals on "The Biz Vs. The Nuge"
  • James Bradley, Jr. – Percussion
  • Drew Lawrence – Percussion
  • Money Mark – Organ, synthesizer, keyboards, clavinet, Wurlitzer
  • Art Oliva – Percussion
  • Juanito Vazquez – Percussion, conga, cuica
Technical personnel


Chart (1992) Peak
Australian Albums (ARIA)[27] 74
US Billboard 200[28] 10
US Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums (Billboard)[29] 37


  1. ^ a b c Erlewine, Stephen Thomas. "Check Your Head – Beastie Boys". AllMusic. Retrieved October 10, 2011.
  2. ^ "Why The Beastie Boys' Check Your Head Is Still Rap-Rock's Greatest Masterpiece". LA Weekly. April 19, 2017.
  3. ^ Maider, Ted (August 30, 2013). "Wait, You've Never Heard: Beastie Boys - Check Your Head". Consequences of sound. Retrieved June 13, 2016.
  4. ^ Patrin, Nate (April 14, 2009). "Beastie Boys - Check Your Head: Deluxe Edition". Pitchfork. Retrieved June 13, 2016.
  5. ^ Abramowitz, Ari (2004). The Pockit Rockit Music Finder. Music Guru, Incorporated. p. 274. ISBN 9780975978702.
  6. ^ "Beastie Boys' Check Your Head "special features" posted". April 7, 2009. Retrieved April 10, 2009.
  7. ^ Coleman, Brian (2007). Check The Technique: Liner Notes For Hip-Hop Junkies. New York: Villard. ISBN 978-0-8129-7775-2.
  8. ^ a b c d e f Coleman, Brian (2007). Check the technique: liner notes for hip-hop junkies. Random House. p. 27. ISBN 978-0-8129-7775-2. Retrieved March 9, 2012.
  9. ^ Rabin, Nathan (July 14, 2009). "Beastie Boys". The A.V. Club. Retrieved October 10, 2011.
  10. ^ a b Kot, Greg (April 23, 1992). "Beastie Boys: Check Your Head (Capitol)". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved October 10, 2011.
  11. ^ a b Browne, David (May 1, 1992). "Check Your Head". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved October 10, 2011.
  12. ^ "Beastie Boys: Check Your Head". Mojo (185). April 2009.
  13. ^ Moon, Tom (April 26, 1992). "The Beastie Boys: Check Your Head (Capitol)". The Philadelphia Inquirer.
  14. ^ "Beastie Boys: Check Your Head". Q (276): 134. July 2009.
  15. ^ Rosen, Jody (April 27, 2009). "Beastie Boys: Check Your Head". Rolling Stone. Archived from the original on May 23, 2009. Retrieved March 13, 2017.
  16. ^ Levy, Joe (2004). "Beastie Boys". In Brackett, Nathan; Hoard, Christian (eds.). The New Rolling Stone Album Guide (4th ed.). Simon & Schuster. pp. 49–51. ISBN 0-7432-0169-8.
  17. ^ Morrison, Dave (June 1992). "Beastie Boys: Check Your Head". Select (24): 69.
  18. ^ Powell, Kevin (June 25, 1992). "Check Your Head". Rolling Stone. Retrieved October 10, 2011.
  19. ^ Christgau, Robert (March 2, 1993). "Between a Rock and a Hard Place". The Village Voice. Retrieved November 3, 2015.
  20. ^ Christgau, Robert (2000). "The Beastie Boys: Check Your Head". Christgau's Consumer Guide: Albums of the '90s. Macmillan Publishers. ISBN 0-312-24560-2. Retrieved March 13, 2017.
  21. ^ "20 Best Albums of the Year". Spin: 67. December 1992.
  22. ^ "The 1992 Pazz & Jop Critics Poll". The Village Voice. March 2, 1993. Retrieved May 4, 2016.
  23. ^ "90 Greatest Albums of the '90s". Spin. September 1999. p. 124.
  24. ^ "Top 99 of '85-'95". Alternative Press: 81. July 1995.
  25. ^ "Top 100 Albums of the 1990s". Pitchfork. November 17, 2003. p. 7. Retrieved November 3, 2015.
  26. ^ Rolling Stone (September 22, 2020). "The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time". Rolling Stone. Retrieved February 17, 2021.
  27. ^ Ryan, Gavin (2011). Australia's Music Charts 1988–2010. Mt. Martha, VIC, Australia: Moonlight Publishing.
  28. ^ "Beastie Boys Chart History (Billboard 200)". Billboard. Retrieved 2013-09-18.
  29. ^ "Beastie Boys Chart History (Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums)". Billboard. Retrieved September 19, 2013.