Ill Communication

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Ill Communication
Beastie Boys Ill Communication.jpg
Studio album by
ReleasedMay 31, 1994 (1994-05-31)
StudioTin Pan Alley Studios (New York City), G-Son Studios (Atwater Village, California)
Beastie Boys chronology
Check Your Head
Ill Communication
Hello Nasty
Singles from Ill Communication
  1. "Sabotage"
    Released: January 28, 1994
  2. "Get It Together"
    Released: March 17, 1994
  3. "Sure Shot"
    Released: May 31, 1994
  4. "Root Down"
    Released: 1995

Ill Communication is the fourth studio album by American rap rock group Beastie Boys. It was released on May 31, 1994 by Grand Royal Records. Co-produced by Beastie Boys and Mario C., the album is among the band's most varied releases, drawing from hip hop, punk rock, jazz and funk. As with their prior release Check Your Head, this album continues the band's trend away from sampling and towards live instruments. It features musical contributions from Money Mark, Eric Bobo and Amery "AWOL" Smith and vocal contributions from Q-Tip and Biz Markie. Beastie Boys were influenced by Miles Davis' jazz rock albums Agharta and On the Corner while recording Ill Communication.[1]

Ill Communication became the band's second number-one album on the US Billboard 200 albums chart and their second triple platinum album. The album was supported by the single "Sabotage", which was accompanied by a music video directed by Spike Jonze that parodied 1970s cop shows.


The album's first single "Sabotage" was first laid down by the band members playing instrumental parts at Tin Pan Alley Studios in New York, the whole driven by Adam Yauch's fuzzed and twangy bass. With the working title of "Chris Rock", the track sat unused for a year, lacking a vocal part. Then, after angrily confronting paparazzi at the Florida funeral of friend and actor River Phoenix in November 1993, Ad-Rock went to the home of producer Mario Caldato Jr. and rapped out his anger, recording the results on Caldato's 8-track tape machine, mixing the vocal with the earlier instrumental parts.[2]

"Sabotage" was released on January 28, 1994.[3] The album's second single "Get It Together" was released on March 17, 1994.[4] The album's third single "Sure Shot" was released on May 31, 1994[5] and features a sample from jazz flautist Jeremy Steig's "Howlin' For Judy", thereby providing the main instrumental part of the song. The album's fourth single "Root Down" was released in 1995.[6]


Beastie Boys' Michael Diamond and Adam Yauch collaborated with Gibran Evans, son of the artist and designer Jim Evans of T.A.Z., to create the album packaging. The cover photo they chose was taken by photographer Bruce Davidson in 1964 at a Los Angeles drive-in diner called Tiny Naylor's.[7] Davidson had been on assignment for Esquire, though the magazine ultimately did not publish the photos.[8] Although Davidson had not heard Beastie Boys and did not understand their music – he recalled thinking it sounded like a "secret language" when they sent him a demo tape – he agreed they could use his photo.[9]

Jim Evans also designed the hand-drawn typeface specifically for Ill Communication,[10] and it was used throughout the promotion of the album. The album booklet features the artwork "Gaia" by Alex Grey.

Critical reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Review scores
AllMusic4/5 stars[11]
The A.V. ClubA−[12]
Entertainment WeeklyB[13]
Los Angeles Times3.5/4 stars[14]
Q4/5 stars[17]
Rolling Stone4/5 stars[18]
The Village VoiceA−[20]

Rolling Stone included Ill Communication in its list of "Essential Recordings of the 90s".[21] Spin ranked it number 19 on its list of the "20 Best Albums of '94".[22] Q included it in its list of the "90 Best Albums of the 1990s".[23] The album placed at number 15 on The Village Voice's 1994 Pazz & Jop critics' poll.[24] Mojo ranked it number 54 on its list of "100 Modern Classics".[25] NME ranked it number three in its list of the "Top 50 Albums of 1994"[26] and it placed 13th in The Wire's annual critics' poll.[27] Guitar World included Ill Communication in the "Superunknown: 50 Iconic Albums That Defined 1994" list.[28] The album was also included in the book 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die.[29]

Track listing[edit]

All tracks are written by Beastie Boys except where noted.

1."Sure Shot"Beastie Boys, Caldato, DJ Hurricane3:19
2."Tough Guy"AWOL, Beastie Boys0:57
3."B-Boys Makin' with the Freak Freak" 3:36
4."Bobo on the Corner"Beastie Boys, Bobo, Money Mark1:13
5."Root Down" 3:32
6."Sabotage" 2:58
7."Get It Together" (featuring Q-Tip) 4:05
8."Sabrosa"Beastie Boys, Bobo, Money Mark3:29
9."The Update"Beastie Boys, Caldato, Money Mark3:15
10."Futterman's Rule"Beastie Boys, Money Mark3:42
11."Alright Hear This" 3:06
12."Eugene's Lament"Beastie Boys, Bobo, Gore, Money Mark2:12
13."Flute Loop"Beastie Boys, Caldato, Klemmer1:54
14."Do It" (featuring Biz Markie) 3:16
15."Ricky's Theme"Beastie Boys, Bobo, Money Mark3:43
16."Heart Attack Man"AWOL, Beastie Boys2:14
17."The Scoop"Beastie Boys, Caldato3:36
18."Shambala"Beastie Boys, Bobo, Money Mark3:40
19."Bodhisattva Vow"Beastie Boys, Caldato3:08
20."Transitions"Beastie Boys, Money Mark2:31
Total length:59:37
Japanese bonus tracks
21."Dope Little Song"1:51
22."Resolution Time"2:49
23."Mullet Head"2:52
24."The Vibes"3:06
2009 Remastered Edition Bonus Disc
1."Root Down" (Free Zone Mix)3:49
2."Resolution Time"2:49
3."Get It Together" (Buck-Wild Remix)4:18
4."Dope Little Song"1:50
5."Sure Shot" (European B-Boy Mix)2:59
6."Heart Attack Man" (Unplugged)2:22
7."The Vibes"3:07
8."Atwater Basketball Association File No. 172-C"1:27
9."Heart Attack Man" (Live)2:10
10."The Maestro" (Live)3:16
11."Mullet Head"2:53
12."Sure Shot" (European B-Boy Instrumental)2:58


  • Beastie Boysproducers
    • Adam "Ad-Rock" Horovitz – vocals, guitar
    • Michael "Mike D" Diamond – vocals, drums
    • Adam "MCA" Yauch – vocals, electric bass, string bass
  • John Klemmer – sample source
  • Eugene Gore – violin on "Eugene's Lament"
  • Eric "Bobo" Correa – percussion, drums on "Ricky's Theme"
  • Amery Smith – drums
  • "Keyboard Money Mark" Nishita – keyboards, organ
  • Q-Tip – vocals on "Get It Together"
  • Biz Markie – vocals on "Do It"
  • Mario Caldato, Jr. – producer


See also[edit]


  1. ^ Reynolds 2011, p. 182.
  2. ^ Zwickel, Jonathan A. (2011). Beastie Boys: A Musical Biography. ABC-CLIO. p. 102. ISBN 978-0-313-36559-1.
  3. ^ "Sabotage by Beastie Boys | Song Stories". Rolling Stone. Retrieved January 17, 2014.
  4. ^ "Readers' Poll: The Best Beastie Boys Songs of All Time Pictures – 10. 'Get It Together'". Rolling Stone. Retrieved January 17, 2014.
  5. ^ "Readers' Poll: The Best Beastie Boys Songs of All Time Pictures – 8. 'Sure Shot'". Rolling Stone. Retrieved January 17, 2014.
  6. ^ "Root Down [Explicit]: The Beastie Boys: MP3 Downloads". November 8, 2005. Retrieved January 17, 2014.
  7. ^ "Change in the air: Rare images of 1964 Los Angeles". September 22, 2015. Retrieved March 28, 2017.
  8. ^ "Bruce Davidson: Los Angeles 1964". Steidl Books. Retrieved March 28, 2017.
  9. ^ "'Ill Communication' at 20: An Everything Guide to the Beastie Boys Masterpiece". May 27, 2014. Retrieved March 28, 2017.
  10. ^ "Hand lettering for Ill Communication". Retrieved March 28, 2017. @jimevanstaz: Yeah, it was a special hand-drawn alphabet just for this album – it is used throughout the booklet.
  11. ^ Erlewine, Stephen Thomas. "Ill Communication – Beastie Boys". AllMusic. Retrieved October 10, 2011.
  12. ^ Rabin, Nathan (July 14, 2009). "Beastie Boys". The A.V. Club. Retrieved October 10, 2011.
  13. ^ Browne, David (June 3, 1994). "Ill Communication". Entertainment Weekly. No. 225. Retrieved October 10, 2011.
  14. ^ Gold, Jonathan (May 29, 1994). "Boys' One-Note Bray Is Still Fun". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved March 19, 2016.
  15. ^ "Beastie Boys: Ill Communication". NME. May 29, 1994. p. 35.
  16. ^ Patrin, Nate (July 14, 2009). "Beastie Boys: Ill Communication [Deluxe Edition]". Pitchfork. Retrieved October 10, 2011.
  17. ^ "Beastie Boys: Ill Communication". Q. No. 276. July 2009. p. 134.
  18. ^ Diehl, Matt (June 2, 1994). "Ill Communication". Rolling Stone. Retrieved October 10, 2011.
  19. ^ Grundy, Gareth (July 1994). "Beastie Boys: Ill Communication". Select. No. 49. p. 82.
  20. ^ Christgau, Robert (July 26, 1994). "Consumer Guide". The Village Voice. Retrieved March 19, 2016.
  21. ^ "Essential Recordings of the 90s". Rolling Stone. May 13, 1999. p. 54.
  22. ^ "20 Best Albums of '94". Spin. Vol. 10 no. 9. December 1994. pp. 76–78. Retrieved June 15, 2020.
  23. ^ "90 Best Albums of the 1990s". Q. No. 159. December 1999. p. 82.
  24. ^ "The 1994 Pazz & Jop Critics Poll". The Village Voice. New York. February 28, 1995. Retrieved June 15, 2020.
  25. ^ "100 Modern Classics". Mojo. No. 150. May 2006. p. 60.
  26. ^ "Top 50 Albums of 1994". NME. December 24, 1994. p. 22.
  27. ^ "Critics Choice: Record of the Year". The Wire. No. 131. London. January 1995. p. 29 – via Exact Editions.
  28. ^ "Superunknown: 50 Iconic Albums That Defined 1994". July 14, 2014. Archived from the original on July 15, 2014. Retrieved July 14, 2014.
  29. ^ Robert Dimery; Michael Lydon (March 23, 2010). 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die: Revised and Updated Edition. Universe. ISBN 978-0-7893-2074-2.
  30. ^ "Beastie Boys Chart History (Billboard 200)". Billboard. Retrieved September 18, 2013.
  31. ^ "Beastie Boys Chart History (Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums)". Billboard. Retrieved September 19, 2013.
  32. ^ "Top Billboard 200 Albums – Year-End 1994". Billboard. Archived from the original on January 23, 2015. Retrieved June 17, 2021.
  33. ^ "Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums – Year-End 1994". Billboard. Retrieved November 24, 2020.
  34. ^ "Top Billboard 200 Albums – Year-End 1995". Billboard. Retrieved November 24, 2020.

Works cited