Paul's Boutique

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Paul's Boutique
Studio album by
ReleasedJuly 25, 1989
StudioMario C's
(Los Angeles)
The Opium Den
The Record Plant
(New York City)
Beastie Boys chronology
Licensed to Ill
Paul's Boutique
Check Your Head
Singles from Paul's Boutique
  1. "Hey Ladies"
    Released: July 25, 1989
  2. "Shadrach"
    Released: October 30, 1989

Paul's Boutique is the second studio album by the American hip hop group Beastie Boys, released on July 25, 1989, on Capitol Records. Featuring production by the Dust Brothers, the album was recorded in Matt Dike's apartment and the Record Plant in Los Angeles from 1988 to 1989, and mixed at the Record Plant. Remixes were made at the Manhattan-based Record Plant Studios. Aside from vocals, the album is almost completely composed of samples.

Paul's Boutique did not match the sales of the Beastie Boys' previous record, Licensed to Ill, and Capitol eventually stopped promoting it. However, its popularity grew and it has since been recognized as a breakthrough achievement. Varied lyrically and sonically, Paul's Boutique secured the Beastie Boys' place as critical favorites in the hip-hop genre. Often called the "Sgt. Pepper of hip-hop"[3], the album's rankings near the top of many publications' "best albums" lists in disparate genres has given Paul's Boutique critical recognition as a landmark album in hip hop.[4]

On January 27, 1999, Paul's Boutique was certified double platinum in sales by the Recording Industry Association of America.[5] In 2003, the album was ranked number 156 on Rolling Stone magazine's list of the 500 greatest albums of all time.[6] The album was re-released in a 20th anniversary package remastered in 24-bit audio and featuring a commentary track on January 27, 2009.[7]


Derided as one-hit wonders and estranged from their original producer, Rick Rubin, and record label, Def Jam, the Beastie Boys were in self-imposed exile in Los Angeles during early 1988 and were written off by most music critics before even beginning to record their second studio album, Paul's Boutique.[8] Following the commercial success of Licensed to Ill, the Beastie Boys were focusing on making an album with more creative depth and less commercial material.[8] The group's previous album had been enormously popular and received critical acclaim among both mainstream and hip hop music critics, although its simple, heavy beats and comically juvenile lyrics led it to be labeled as frat hip hop.[8] The group signed with Capitol Records and EMI Records.[8]


Put together on samplers with tiny memories, small fragments of staggeringly disparate musics drop in, then are snatched away abruptly; rhythms and melodies remain in focus as textures and sounds constantly shift.


Paul's Boutique was produced with the Dust Brothers, whose extensive, innovative use of sampling helped establish the practice of multi-layered sampling as an art in itself. While the Dust Brothers were set on making a hit record, they agreed with the group on producing a more experimental and sonically different record.[8] In total, 105 songs were sampled on the album, including 24 individual samples on the last track alone. The Dust Brothers produced the backing tracks with the intention of releasing them as an instrumental album, but the Beastie Boys convinced them to use the tracks as the basis of their follow up to Licensed to Ill.[8][10]

Contrary to popular belief, most of the sampling for Paul's Boutique was cleared, but at dramatically lower costs compared to today's prevailing rates.[10] According to Sound on Sound, most of the samples were cleared "easily and affordably, something that [...] would be 'unthinkable' in today's litigious music industry."[10] Mario "Mario C" Caldato, Jr., engineer on the album, said that "we realized we had spent a lot of money in the studio. We had spent about a $1/4 million in rights and licensing for samples."[11] This type of sampling was only possible before Grand Upright Music, Ltd. v. Warner Bros. Records Inc., the landmark lawsuit against Biz Markie by Gilbert O'Sullivan, which changed the process and future of hip hop sampling.

Speaking about the album 20 years on, Adam Yauch told Clash magazine,

The Dust Brothers had a bunch of music together, before we arrived to work with them. As a result, a lot of the tracks come from songs they'd planned to release to clubs as instrumentals – "Shake Your Rump," for example. They'd put together some beats, basslines and guitar lines, all these loops together, and they were quite surprised when we said we wanted to rhyme on it, because they thought it was too dense. They offered to strip it down to just beats, but we wanted all of that stuff on there. I think half of the tracks were written when we got there, and the other half we wrote together." [12]

All of the songs for Paul's Boutique were recorded in Matt Dike's living room in Los Angeles, with the exception of "Hello Brooklyn". The fifth part of the album's finale suite "B-Boy Bouillabaisse" was recorded at the apartment building of the Beastie Boy-member Adam Yauch, aka MCA, in Koreatown, Los Angeles. The location of recording was credited in the album liner notes as the Opium Den.[13] The recordings for Paul's Boutique were later mixed by the Dust Brothers at Record Plant Studios in Los Angeles.[8]


The panoramic photograph of Ludlow Street by Jeremy Shatan.

The cover art and gatefold is a photograph of Ludlow Street (as shot from 99 Rivington Street), credited to Nathanial Hörnblowér, but shot by Jeremy Shatan.[14][15]

On its initial release, Paul's Boutique was commercially unsuccessful because of its experimental and dense sampling and lyricism, in contrast to the Beastie Boys' previous album, Licensed to Ill.[16] It was a commercial disappointment,[17] peaking at only #24 on the Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart.[18] The album received a gold certification by the Recording Industry Association of America on September 22 of its release year.[5] Paul's Boutique would go on to sell over 2 million copies by 1999.[5]

Critical reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Retrospective reviews
Review scores
AllMusic5/5 stars[16]
The A.V. ClubA[19]
Christgau's Record GuideA[20]
Mojo5/5 stars[9]
Q4/5 stars[23]
Rolling Stone5/5 stars[24]
The Rolling Stone Album Guide5/5 stars[25]
Spin Alternative Record Guide10/10[26]

In a contemporary review, David Handelman from Rolling Stone said the songs are "buoyed by the deft interplay of the three voices and a poetic tornado of imagery", featuring "equally far-flung" musical samples on an album that is "littered with bullshit tough-guy bravado, but it's clever and hilarious bullshit".[27] Greg Kot of the Chicago Tribune commended the Dust Brothers' "deft" production and the Beastie Boys' rhymes, which he called "hilarious, vicious, surreal, snotty."[28] Writing for Playboy, Robert Christgau said although it "doesn't jump you the way great rap usually does," "the Beasties and Tone-Loc's Dust Brothers have worked out a sound that sneaks up on you with its stark beats and literal-minded samples, sometimes in a disturbing way". He commended them for "bearing down on the cleverest rhymes in the biz" and wrote, "the Beasties concentrate on tall tales rather than boasting or dissing. In their irresponsible, exemplary way they make fun of drug misuse, racism, assault, and other real vices fools might accuse them of."[29] In Christgau's Record Guide: The '80s (1990), he said the album's "high-speed volubility and riffs from nowhere will amaze and delight you", calling it "an absolutely unpretentious and unsententious affirmation of cultural diversity, of where [the group] came from and where they went from there."[20]


List of the album's rankings and listings on selected publications and top album lists:[4][30][31][32]

  • Ranked #5 on Slant Magazine's "Best Albums of the 1980s"[33]
  • Ranked #37 on Blender's "The 100 Greatest American Albums of All Time"
  • Ranked #2 on Ego Trip's "Hip Hop's 25 Greatest Albums by Year (1980–1998)"
  • Ranked #156 on "Rolling Stone's 500 Greatest Albums of All Time"
  • Ranked #12 on Spin's "100 Greatest Albums, 1985–2005"
  • Ranked #74 on VH1's "Top 100 Albums"
  • Ranked #98 on Q's "Q Magazine Readers' 100 Greatest Albums Ever"
  • Ranked #3 on Pitchfork Media's "Top 100 Albums of the 1980s"
  • Ranked #8 on Chris Rock's list of the "Top 25 Hip-Hop Albums"
  • Selected as one of Rolling Stone magazine's "The Essential 200 Rock Records"
  • Selected as one of TIME magazine's "100 Greatest Albums of All TIME"
  • Selected by Rhapsody as one of "The 10 Best Albums by White Rappers"[34]


On July 26, 2014, mural artist Danielle Mastrion created a mural in celebration of the 25th anniversary of the Beastie Boys' landmark album Paul's Boutique. It was painted on the corner of Ludlow and Rivington, where the original album cover was photographed.

Since Paul's Boutique was first released, its critical standing improved significantly.[35] NME found the album to "still [be] an electrifying blast of cool" in a 1994 review, viewing it as a "younger incarnation" of Ill Communication.[21] Mojo asserted that the album "shredded the rulebook" and called it "one of the most inventive rap albums ever made".[36] In a 2003 review, Rolling Stone gave it five stars and called it "a celebration of American junk culture that is still blowing minds today - even fourteen years of obsessive listening can't exhaust all the musical and lyrical jokes crammed into Paul's Boutique".[24] Mark Kemp of Rolling Stone also gave the album five stars in a 2009 review, calling it a "hip-hop masterpiece".[37] Nate Patrin of Pitchfork Media dubbed it "a landmark in the art of sampling, a reinvention of a group that looked like it was heading for a gimmicky early dead-end, and a harbinger of the pop-culture obsessions and referential touchstones that would come to define the ensuing decades' postmodern identity".[22] In a review of the album for AllMusic, contributor Stephen Thomas Erlewine summed the initial reaction to Paul's Boutique and praised the density that the album contains:

Musically, few hip-hop records have ever been so rich; it's not just the recontextulations of familiar music via samples, it's the flow of each song and the album as a whole, culminating in the widescreen suite that closes the record. Lyrically, the Beasties have never been better — not just because their jokes are razor-sharp, but because they construct full-bodied narratives and evocative portraits of characters and places. Few pop records offer this much to savor, and if Paul's Boutique only made a modest impact upon its initial release, over time its influence could be heard through pop and rap, yet no matter how its influence was felt, it stands alone as a record of stunning vision, maturity, and accomplishment.[16]

Miles Davis said that he never got tired of listening to Paul's Boutique.[38] Later, in a Vibe interview of all three Beastie Boys, Chuck D of Public Enemy was quoted as saying that the "dirty secret" among the black hip-hop community at the time of release was that "Paul's Boutique had the best beats."[39] During the same Vibe interview, Mike D was asked about any possible hesitation he or the band might have had regarding their overt "sampling" of several minutes of well-known Beatles background tracks, including the song "The End" on "The Sounds of Science". He claimed that the Beatles filed preliminary legal papers, and that his response was "What's cooler than getting sued by the Beatles?"[40]

In the book For Whom the Cowbell Tolls: 25 Years of Paul's Boutique, host of KDOC's Request Video Gia DeSantis discussed the appeal of the album to local markets and the missed opportunity by Capitol Records to take the album over the top. The book was a follow-up to 33 1/3's book Paul's Boutique.

Restored tracks[edit]

In 2013, music journalists Dan LeRoy and Peter Relic revealed that they had uncovered and restored a tape that represented the Beastie Boys' first recording session in Delicious Vinyl's colloquially named Delicious Studios.[41] Included on this tape are the working versions of six tracks, five of which were produced and utilized in some form on Paul's Boutique, with one track, entitled "The Jerry Lewis," being omitted.[42] Mike D was presented with the restored version of the omitted track in late 2013, and when asked if it warranted an official release his response was, "Probably not this year." After widespread publication of the story, "The Jerry Lewis" has become a highly sought-after "lost track" among dedicated Beastie Boys fans.[41]

Track listing[edit]

All tracks written by Beastie Boys and the Dust Brothers[16] (Mike Diamond, Adam Horovitz, Adam Yauch, John King, Mike Simpson).

1."To All the Girls"1:29
2."Shake Your Rump"3:19
3."Johnny Ryall"3:00
4."Egg Man"2:57
5."High Plains Drifter"4:13
6."The Sounds of Science"3:11
7."3-Minute Rule"3:39
8."Hey Ladies"3:47
9."5-Piece Chicken Dinner"0:23
10."Looking down the Barrel of a Gun"3:28
11."Car Thief"3:39
12."What Comes Around"3:07
14."Ask for Janice" 0:11
15."B-Boy Bouillabaisse"
  • Some releases separate the nine sections of the "B-Boy Bouillabaisse" suite:
    • a. "59 Chrystie Street" (0:57)
    • b. "Get on the Mic" (1:14)
    • c. "Stop That Train" (1:59)
    • d. "A Year and a Day" (2:22)
    • e. "Hello Brooklyn" (1:32)
    • f. "Dropping Names" (1:03)
    • g. "Lay It on Me" (0:54)
    • h. "Mike on the Mic" (0:48)
    • i. "A.W.O.L." (1:46)"
Total length:53:03


  • Beastie Boys – production
  • Allen Abrahamson – assistant engineer
  • Mario Caldato Jr. – engineer
  • Mike Simpson – producer, turntables, ensemble
  • The Dust Brothers – production
  • Matt Dike – ensemble
  • Ricky Powell – photography
  • Jeremy Shatan – photography
  • Nathaniel Hörnblowér – photography
  • Dominick Watkins – photography


Chart (1989) Peak
Australian Albums (ARIA)[45] 65
UK Albums (OCC)[46] 44
US Billboard 200[47] 14
US Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums (Billboard)[48] 24

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Cook, Toby. "It Started With A Mix - Beastie Boys: Selecting The Best For One Side Of A C90". The Quietus. Retrieved June 16, 2018.
  2. ^ Chick, Stevie (2009). Psychic Confusion: The Sonic Youth Story. Omnibus Press.
  3. ^ "How the Beastie Boys Made Their Masterpiece". Rolling Stone. Retrieved July 13, 2017.
  4. ^ a b "Paul's Boutique". Retrieved February 28, 2011.
  5. ^ a b c "American album certifications – Beastie Boys – Paul%27s Boutique". Recording Industry Association of America. Retrieved August 26, 2008. If necessary, click Advanced, then click Format, then select Album, then click SEARCH. 
  6. ^ "The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time". Rolling Stone. Straight Arrow (Special Issue). 156) Paul's Boutique. November 2003. ISSN 0035-791X. Retrieved August 25, 2008. |archiveurl= |archivedate=November 9, 2007 |deadurl=yes }}
  7. ^ "Paul's Boutique - 20th Anniversary Remastered Edition". Retrieved February 28, 2011. |deadurl=yes |archiveurl= |archivedate=April 2, 2012 }}
  8. ^ a b c d e f g LeRoy, Dan (2006). The Beastie Boys' Paul's Boutique (33 1/3). Continuum International. pp. 54–59. ISBN 978-0-8264-1741-1. Retrieved October 6, 2009.
  9. ^ a b Batey, Angus (January 2009). "Beastie Boys: Paul's Boutique". Mojo (182): 118.
  10. ^ a b c Tingen, Paul (May 2005). "The Dust Brothers: Sampling, Remixing & The Boat Studio". Sound on Sound. Cambridge, UK: SOS Publications Group. ISSN 1473-5326. Retrieved July 25, 2011.
  11. ^ Burke, Darron (January 2002). Barnes, Joyce, ed. "Interview with Mario Caldato, Jr. – March 2001" (PDF). Tape Op Magazine. Sacramento, CA. OCLC 55533380. Retrieved July 25, 2011. |deadurl=yes |archiveurl= |archivedate=March 28, 2012 }}
  12. ^ "The Beastie Boys Interview Preview". required)
  13. ^ LeRoy, Dan (2006). The Beastie Boys' Paul's Boutique (33 1/3). Continuum International. pp. 100–106. ISBN 978-0-8264-1741-1. Retrieved February 28, 2011.
  14. ^ Carlson, Jen (April 19, 2006). "NYC Album Art: Paul's Boutique". Gothamist. Archived from the original on June 11, 2013. Retrieved January 16, 2014.
  15. ^ "New York Minute » In Search Of Paul's Boutique". December 29, 2009. Archived from the original on December 23, 2013. Retrieved January 16, 2014.
  16. ^ a b c d Erlewine, Stephen Thomas. "Paul's Boutique – Beastie Boys". AllMusic. Retrieved October 12, 2011.
  17. ^ Lozaw, Tristram. "Paul's Boutique". Yahoo! Music. Archived from the original on December 23, 2012. Retrieved December 23, 2012.
  18. ^ "Paul's Boutique > Charts & Awards > Billboard Albums" at AllMusic. Retrieved October 12, 2011.
  19. ^ Rabin, Nathan (February 17, 2009). "Beastie Boys: Paul's Boutique: 20th Anniversary Edition". The A.V. Club. Retrieved January 16, 2014.
  20. ^ a b Christgau, Robert (1990). "The Beastie Boys: Paul's Boutique". Christgau's Record Guide: The '80s. Pantheon Books. p. 50. ISBN 0-679-73015-X. Retrieved October 12, 2011.
  21. ^ a b "Beastie Boys: Paul's Boutique". NME. London: 46. November 19, 1994.
  22. ^ a b Patrin, Nate (February 13, 2009). "Beastie Boys: Paul's Boutique". Pitchfork. Retrieved October 12, 2011.
  23. ^ "Beastie Boys: Paul's Boutique". Q (355): 121. February 2016.
  24. ^ a b "Beastie Boys: Paul's Boutique". Rolling Stone. New York: 65. February 6, 2003.
  25. ^ Levy, Joe (2004). "Beastie Boys". In Brackett, Nathan; Hoard, Christian. The New Rolling Stone Album Guide (4th ed.). Simon & Schuster. pp. 49–51. ISBN 0-7432-0169-8.
  26. ^ Weisbard, Eric; Marks, Craig, eds. (1995). Spin Alternative Record Guide. Vintage Books. pp. 46–47. ISBN 0-679-75574-8.
  27. ^ Handelman, David (July 25, 1989). "Paul's Boutique". Rolling Stone. New York. Retrieved October 12, 2011.
  28. ^ Kot, Greg (August 3, 1989). "Beastie Boys: Paul's Boutique (Capitol)". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved May 5, 2016.
  29. ^ Christgau, Robert (May 1989). "Paul's Boutique". Playboy. Retrieved May 5, 2016.
  30. ^ "Top 100 Albums of the 1980s". Pitchfork Media. November 20, 2002. 003: Beastie Boys: Paul's Boutique. Archived from the original on April 2, 2008. Retrieved February 28, 2011.
  31. ^ "Chris Rock's 25 Hip Hop Albums". Retrieved February 28, 2011.
  32. ^ Tyrangiel, Josh (November 2, 2006). "All-TIME 100 Albums: Paul's Boutique". Time. New York. Retrieved February 28, 2011.
  33. ^ "The 100 Best Albums of the 1980s". Slant Magazine. March 5, 2012. Retrieved June 21, 2012.
  34. ^ "The 10 Best Albums By White Rappers". Rhapsody. Archived from the original on June 26, 2010. Retrieved July 26, 2010.
  35. ^ Partridge, Kenneth (July 25, 2014). "Beastie Boys' 'Paul's Boutique' at 25: Classic Track-by-Track Album Review". Billboard. Retrieved September 24, 2015.
  36. ^ "Beastie Boys: Paul's Boutique". Mojo (79): 125. June 2000.
  37. ^ Kemp, Mark (February 19, 2009). "Paul's Boutique: 20th Anniversary Remastered Edition". Rolling Stone. New York. Retrieved December 23, 2012.
  38. ^ Whalen, Nancy (April 6, 1994). "Gathering Dust". BAM. Oakland. OCLC 56556937. Retrieved December 23, 2012.
  39. ^ "Shake, Shake, Shake. Shake your Boutique". A Story To Tell. January 11, 2007. |archiveurl= |archivedate=October 13, 2008 |deadurl=yes }}
  40. ^ Pollicino, Raul. "The Sounds of Science". Song Spotlight. Retrieved February 28, 2011.
  41. ^ a b Relic, Peter (August 7, 2014). "'The Jerry Lewis': The Untold Story of the Beastie Boys Single That Never Was". Rolling Stone. New York. Retrieved October 4, 2015.
  42. ^ LeRoy, Dan (2014). For Whom the Cowbell Tolls: 25 Years of Paul's Boutique. 6623 Press. ISBN 0-692-26237-7.
  43. ^ "Beastie Boys on WhoSampled". WhoSampled. Retrieved November 1, 2015.
  44. ^ "ポールズ・ブティック [Extra tracks]" [Paul's Boutique [Extra tracks]] (in Japanese). Retrieved February 28, 2011.
  45. ^ "Chartifacts: Week Ending 20 September 1992 – Issue No. 138 (from The ARIA Report Issue No. 138)". Australian Recording Industry Association. Retrieved April 16, 2016.
  46. ^ "Beastie Boys | Artist | Official Charts". UK Albums Chart. Retrieved April 5, 2016.
  47. ^ "Beastie Boys Chart History (Billboard 200)". Billboard. Retrieved September 18, 2013.
  48. ^ "Beastie Boys Chart History (Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums)". Billboard. Retrieved September 19, 2013.