From the release of Licensed To Ill in 1986 to their final album, Hot Sauce Committee Part Two in 2011, The Beastie Boys underwent a total transformation from brash party boys to erudite hip hop masters with sounds and attitudes that were far more inclusive. In honor of the 30th anniversary of that first smash, here’s a ranking of the group’s eight albums.
8. The Mix-Up (2007)
Beastie Boys instrumentals are like shots. Spread out throughout an album, just like a night of heavy-drinking, a few shots can be a lot of fun. However, a night that consists solely of shots is completely uncalled for. What separates The Mix-Up from the band’s instrumental The in Sound from Way Out!, is that the first instrumental album was a compilation of previously released jams. It wasn’t presented as anything new. In contrast, The Mix-Up was made of all new compositions; it was even accompanied by a tour where the band focused on instrumentals. It’s not as if the jams are terrible or anything. It’s just that, at times – and I’m saying this with all due respect – it sounds like I’m listening to a college jam band. Speaking as someone who was in a college jam band, that sh*t should be shared as little as possible.
7. To the 5 Boroughs (2004)
Still reeling from 9/11, no one can fault the Beasties for releasing a tribute to their beloved New York City. We also can’t hate on them for making an album that was easily their most hip-hop heavy. This is not a bad album. Let me repeat that: THIS IS NOT A BAD ALBUM. It’s also not a great album. It’s a good album, and that’s due in large part to the fact that the Beastie Boys were always a good to really good hip-hop group, but what made them stand out was their ability to dip into the wild waters of hardcore and punk. They weren’t operating at full strength here. With that being said, “Ch-Check It Out” is an awesome tune.