PAUL’S BOUTIQUE: BEASTIE BOYS Wednesday 04 April, 2012

Probably the best of The Beastie’s ‘hip-hop’ albums…and now a clothing label that produces really ugly clothing for women.

When I was ten years old I had a TDK D-90. In fact I had many of them. One in particular holds a special place in the heart of my nostalgic retrospective. One side of said cassette had LL Cool J’s ‘Bigger and Deffer‘ recorded on it. The other side had The Beastie Boys’ ‘Licence to Ill’. I loved that album. I listened to it again and again. I had a Beastie Boys t-shirt which I still have no idea about how it came to be in my possession. I jealously eyed the VW badges on my father’s Golf. I was outraged when somebody else stole them, even though I’d asked for them. I was sold on The Beasties.

When Paul’s Boutique was released I was as excited as any pre-pubescent boy could be. Then I listened to it. I hated it. I tried to listen to it a few times but I really hated it. I was hugely disappointed. Gone were the rock riff samples. Gone were the simplistic chanting choruses. Gone were the cartoonish characters. What was left was intensely dull to my ten year old mind. This is why we must never allow minors to vote.

What my underdeveloped musical palate couldn’t comprehend was that this is, musically at least, an incredibly sophisticated album. It draws from a much wider musical pallet than it’s predecessor and if I remove my rose-tinted spectacles it’s all the better for it. I listen to ‘Licence to Ill’ to remember my childhood. I listen to ‘Paul’s Boutique’ to enjoy listening to an album.

Later albums would see The Beasties learn to play instruments, discover feminism and the role of music in politics but this album is straight up golden age hip-hop. Great beats, fun raps and infinitely listenable. It’s a shame then, that most of those girls who are slathered in the words ‘Paul’s Boutique’ have probably never heard it.


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