How the Beastie Boys Changed Hip-Hop

Writer: Brandon Fuller

Source: Solid Gold Hits

Pin-roll your jeans, grab the nearest pair of Adidas, and get ill because we’re getting no sleep til Brooklyn on this one. Today, we delve into the late ‘80s, a time of crazy hair and even crazier people as we see how the Beastie Boys brought the world of hip-hop to White America.

During the 1980s, rap music was a struggling platform as synth-heavy songs and crazy guitar solos dominated the airwaves. That was until 3 Jewish kids from New York changed everything.

The group consisted of Adam “Adrock” Horovitz, Adam “MCA” Yauch, and Michael “Mike D” Diamond. The group that originally began as a punk-rock band quickly discovered the key to becoming famous. They took the guitar aspect of rock music and added into the newly forming genre of hip-hop. And just like that, magic was made.



On November 15th, 1986, the Beastie Boys turned the world of rap on its head as they released their first record “Licensed to Ill”. Within eight weeks it had gone platinum and went number one on the Billboard Top 200. Suburban kids saw faces and heard guitar riffs they could relate to and were permanently hooked. By early 1987 a tour was set up by the Boys, and their worldwide dominance began.

Record stores were being run dry as people were flooding them, dying to get their hands on the record. The rebellious attitude of the group fueled the angst of teenage kids everywhere. The release of their video “Fight For Your Right” was also instrumental for drawing in the kids of White America as it showed the group going absolutely crazy at a party (as every kid wishes to do).

Source: TV80s

Their antics and sensational music garnered the attention of the immensely popular rap group Run-D.M.C. This is where the two types of hip-hop began to fuse together and changed the game forever. The two super-groups had photoshoots, performed, and ultimately launched hip-hop to a much more diverse audience together.


Source: Robot Cosmonaut - Tumblr

Now, more people than ever were being exposed to this type of music, and it just snowballed from there. In ‘88 N.W.A. blew up as the premiere “gangsta rap” ensemble, and Vanilla Ice came out with the rap mega-hit “Ice Ice Baby” in ‘90 to show that hip-hop wasn’t going anywhere any time soon.

Throughout the ‘90s and ‘00s the genre exponentially expanded until it got to it’s present day form. Now, the argument can be made that rap music is the most popular brand pumping through people’s headphones these days.

The impact of the Beastie Boys can still be heard today as the many rock samplings in rap music scatter the industry. The group has obviously made their impact with their total of over 50 million records sold worldwide to date. Heck, they even had half of the actors in Hollywood performing for them in their “Fight For Your Right Revisited” short film.


Source: Consequence of Sound

These guys proponed more than just rap music. I mean c’mon, do you see how big Adidas is nowadays after they were practical advertisers for them through their lyrics and music videos? Regardless, the hip-hop industry has them to thank for jump-starting the biggest genre of music currently.