Album #567 – Licenced To Ill

Album #567

Album #567

It has been almost a year since I published my last post in this ongoing project. My life has become very busy as of late and I have had to take a much needed break from the challenge. Now, partly because Facebook keeps reminding me that I haven’t posted in awhile, I’m getting back into listening and reviewing. The first three posts will feature albums that I listened to back in January. Album #570 will be the first album I have listened to from the challenge since then. So, thank you for your patience and it feels good to dive back in. Licensed To Ill was THE album that really made me want to explore hip hop and rap music.  As I stated previously, I have always liked certain groups and artists in the genre and The Beastie Boys are among them. But, I’ve never taken the time to really go back and look at the genre and discover. This challenge allows me to do that and has opened my mind up to many amazing sounds. This album was a revelation. Hip hop and rap music, when done right, sounds amazing, makes you think and can cause some controversy. This album does all three. Many thought that the Beastie Boys were not serious about this musical art form. Several rappers felt that the group were making fun of hip hop because of their juvenile lyrics. But, that wasn’t really the case. The group started out as a hardcore punk band before moving into rap. In fact, in the next decade they would play real instruments on their albums, a perfect match to the alternative rock sound of the 90’s. This album’s biggest single, Fight For Your Right, was actually a satirical song about the frat boy mentality. But, the message was lost on many.  Thankfully, this group decided to become more artistic with their follow-up, Paul’s Boutique. But, the genesis of this experimentation is found on Licensed to Ill. The samples on this album are used in a very creative way. There are no hooks from other famous songs but, the samples aren’t the focal point. Instead, they form the creative backbone of the song. The Golden Age of Hip Hop is my favorite because of this. Mainstream Hip Hop when I was growing up in the early 2000’s, for the most part with a few exceptions, couldn’t be further away from this. The Beastie Boys also take a page from Run-DMC’s book on Licensed to Ill. The songs are catchy and also sound great combined with heavy metal guitar, as heard on Fight For Your Right and No Sleep ‘Till Brooklyn. Rick Rubin’s influence I’m sure also helped with the album’s hard rock influenced sound. Looking forward to hearing Paul’s Boutique and, if this album was an indication, I’m in for a real treat.

Overall, I give Licensed to Ill, 5 out of 5.

Next: Master of Puppets by Metallica

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