From Publishers Weekly
New York rock-rappers the Beastie Boys have seized a remarkable place in music history, as world-famous pop stars, as white MCs and as one of the influential first wave of groups that broke hip-hop, albeit their own special brand of it, into the mainstream charts in the early 1980s. Unfortunately, the group's importance is what makes this shallow, topical effort from former Rolling Stone
writer Light so disappointing. For all the great music and groundbreaking pop culture history made by these three Jewish kids (Adam Yauch, Adam Horovitz and Mike Diamond), Light's oral history, supposedly based on many years of the author's own interviews, frustratingly boils down more than two decades' worth of innovation and originality into less than 200 pages of quotations. That's not to say that the book doesn't have some decent information. Light manages to squeeze in both major and minor players in the Beasties' empire, from mega-producer Rick Rubin to Madonna, and he hits all the major beats of the Beasties' careers, as rappers, recording artists and budding impresarios. Still, this is little more than an expanded magazine article. Although at times entertaining, given Light's insider perch, the book is regrettably an unworthy history. (Jan.)
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White Jewish kids from secure backgrounds who conquered the rap and pop charts (their album License to Ill
was the first hip-hop album to top the pop charts) and purveyors of vulgar, often hilarious lyrics who actively support liberal political and social causes, the Beastie Boys are now rap and rock elder statesmen. In such anthems as "Fight
for Your Right (to Party)," they incorporated heavy-metal riffs and samples in the format pioneered by Run-DMC to reach the vast suburban-white-kid audience in previously unimaginable ways. They are as responsible for hip-hop's hold on the pop charts and pop culture as Run-DMC. Light's notably well written presentation of their story explores the Beasties phenomenon with wit and purpose far too rarely manifested in the rock-bio genre. In incidents ranging from their almost accidental introduction to the recording industry to collaborating with reggae god Lee "Scratch" Perry to support for the Dalai Lama (they were instrumental in organizing a benefit concert for Tibet), the Beasties' story is an engrossing, important chapter of pop-music history. Mike TribbyCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved