Check Your Head

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Check Your Head
Beastieboys checkyourhead.jpg
Studio album by Beastie Boys
Released April 21, 1992
Recorded 1991–92
Studio G-Son Studios, Atwater Village, California
Length 53:29
Label Capitol
Producer Mario 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 the American hip hop 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.

It was re-released in 2009 in a number of formats and featured 16 b-sides and rarities as well as a commentary track.[4] The album is extensively broken down track-by-track by Mike D, MCA, Ad-Rock, Mario Caldato Jr., and Money Mark in Brian Coleman's book Check the Technique.[5]


In contrast to their previous album, Paul's Boutique, the Beastie Boys returned somewhat stylistically to their punk rock 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).[6] Hence photographer Glen E. Friedman's idea to shoot photos with their instrument cases (one of which became the cover).[6] Supposedly, a trading card with Norman Schwarzkopf, Jr. from a set of Desert Storm trading cards was the inspiration for the title.[6]

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".[6] The album also marks the first appearance of longtime collaborator keyboardist Money Mark.[6] The Beastie Boys toured with the Rollins Band and Cypress Hill in early 1992 to support Check Your Head.[6]

Critical reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
AllMusic 5/5 stars[3]
The A.V. Club A−[7]
Chicago Tribune 3/4 stars[8]
Encyclopedia of Popular Music 4/5 stars[9]
Entertainment Weekly D[10]
PopMatters 9/10[11]
Q 5/5 stars[12]
Rolling Stone 3.5/5 stars[13]
The Rolling Stone Album Guide 3.5/5 stars[14]
Select 4/5[15]

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."[13] 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".[8] Entertainment Weekly's David Browne, on the other hand, panned the album as a "muddled, clanking mess".[10] Robert Christgau of The Village Voice assigned Check Your Head 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."[16] He later called the album a "great concept" hampered by the fact that "the execution is halfway there at best".[17]

Spin ranked Check Your Head at number four on their list of the 20 best albums of the year.[18] It ranked fifth place on The Village Voice's year-end Pazz & Jop critics' poll.[19] Spin later ranked the album number 12 on their list of the 90 greatest albums of the 1990s,[20] while Alternative Press ranked the album at number 23 on their list of the top 99 albums of 1985 to 1995.[21] Pitchfork Media ranked the album at number 34 on their list of the Top 100 Albums of the 1990s.[22]

Track listing[edit]

All tracks by Michael Diamond, Adam Horovitz and Adam Yauch, except as indicated.

No. Title Length
1. "Jimmy James" (Beastie Boys, Caldato) 3:14
2. "Funky Boss" (Beastie Boys, Nishita) 1:35
3. "Pass the Mic" (Beastie Boys, Caldato) 4:17
4. "Gratitude" (Beastie Boys, Cushman) 2:45
5. "Lighten Up" (Beastie Boys, Nishita) 2:41
6. "Finger Lickin' Good" (Beastie Boys, Caldato, Fite, Hill) 3:39
7. "So What'cha Want"   3:37
8. "The Biz vs. The Nuge" (Hall, Nugent) 0:33
9. "Time for Livin'" (Sly & the Family Stone) 1:48
10. "Something's Got to Give" (Beastie Boys, Caldato, Nishita) 3:28
11. "The Blue Nun"   0:32
12. "Stand Together" (Beastie Boys, Caldato) 2:47
13. "POW" (Beastie Boys, Nishita) 2:13
14. "The Maestro"   2:52
15. "Groove Holmes" (Beastie Boys, Nishita) 2:33
16. "Live at P.J.'s" (Beastie Boys, Nishita) 3:18
17. "Mark on the Bus" (Nishita) 1:05
18. "Professor Booty" (Beastie Boys, Caldato) 4:13
19. "In 3's" (Beastie Boys, Nishita) 2:23
20. "Namasté" (Beastie Boys, Nishita) 4:01
Japanese bonus tracks
No. Title Length
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
No. Title Length
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 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)[23] 74
US Billboard 200[24] 10
US Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums (Billboard)[25] 37


  1. ^ Patrin, Nate (April 14, 2009). "Beastie Boys - Check Your Head: Deluxe Edition". Pitchfork. Retrieved June 13, 2016. 
  2. ^ Maider, Ted (August 30, 2013). "Wait, You've Never Heard: Beastie Boys – Check Your Head". Consequence of Sound. Retrieved June 13, 2016. 
  3. ^ a b Erlewine, Stephen Thomas. "Check Your Head – Beastie Boys". AllMusic. Retrieved October 10, 2011. 
  4. ^ "Beastie Boys' Check Your Head "special features" posted". 7 April 2009. Retrieved 10 April 2009. 
  5. ^ Coleman, Brian (2007). Check The Technique: Liner Notes For Hip-Hop Junkies. New York: Villard. ISBN 978-0-8129-7775-2. 
  6. ^ 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 9 March 2012. 
  7. ^ Rabin, Nathan (July 14, 2009). "Beastie Boys". The A.V. Club. Retrieved October 10, 2011. 
  8. ^ a b Kot, Greg (April 23, 1992). "Beastie Boys Check Your Head (Capitol)". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved October 10, 2011. 
  9. ^ Larkin, Colin (2007). The Encyclopedia of Popular Music (5th ed.). Omnibus Press. ISBN 0-857-12595-8. 
  10. ^ a b Browne, David (May 1, 1992). "Check Your Head". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved October 10, 2011. 
  11. ^ Murphy, Sean (April 29, 2009). "Beastie Boys: Check Your Head". PopMatters. Retrieved October 10, 2011. 
  12. ^ "Beastie Boys – Check Your Head CD". CD Universe. Retrieved October 10, 2011. 
  13. ^ a b Powell, Kevin (December 11, 1996). "Check Your Head". Rolling Stone. Retrieved October 10, 2011. 
  14. ^ Brackett, Nathan; Hoard, Christian, eds. (2004). The New Rolling Stone Album Guide. Simon & Schuster. pp. 49–50. ISBN 0-743-20169-8. 
  15. ^ Morrison, Dave (June 1992). "Beastie Boys: Check Your Head". Select (24): 69. 
  16. ^ Christgau, Robert (2000). Christgau's Consumer Guide: Albums of the '90s. Macmillan Publishers. ISBN 0312245602. 
  17. ^ Christgau, Robert (March 2, 1993). "Between a Rock and a Hard Place". The Village Voice. Retrieved November 3, 2015. 
  18. ^ "20 Best Albums of the Year". Spin: 67. December 1992. 
  19. ^ "The 1992 Pazz & Jop Critics Poll". The Village Voice. March 2, 1993. Retrieved May 4, 2016. 
  20. ^ "90 Greatest Albums of the '90s". Spin. September 1999. p. 124. 
  21. ^ "Top 99 of '85-'95". Alternative Press: 81. July 1995. 
  22. ^ "Top 100 Albums of the 1990s". Pitchfork Media. November 17, 2003. p. 7. Retrieved November 3, 2015. 
  23. ^ Ryan, Gavin (2011). Australia's Music Charts 1988-2010. Mt. Martha, VIC, Australia: Moonlight Publishing. 
  24. ^ "Beastie Boys – Chart history" Billboard 200 for Beastie Boys. Retrieved 2013-09-18.
  25. ^ "Beastie Boys – Chart history" Billboard Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums for Beastie Boys. Retrieved September 19, 2013.