Beastie Boys - Check Your Head (1992)


Feb 2 2008, 13:22

I remember Reading ’92 – I thought I’d go and see Beastie Boys for a laugh ‘cos they were that comedy white rap group right?……Standing ankle deep in sloppy mud (it had rained virtually all night) I awaited the dubious charms of the vaguely remembered tunes such as Fight for your Right and No sleep till Brooklyn.

When they took the stage I thought, hang on a minute - drums, keyboard player ( Money Mark), guitars, bass……eh?! Then a brief reinforcement of what I thought was to come from Ad Rock “If this is the Reading festival, where are all the books?” – ha ha…..but from then on in my expectations went out of the window:

What followed blew me away - hip hop, rock, funk even punk churned up and spat out into the dull, grey, wet afternoon. But looking around me everyone was dancing/pogoing and everyone had a smile on their faces. They rapped, they played their own instruments too – on the funky instrumental numbers (more of which later) – they were wicked! My pre-conceptions were well and truly squashed into the Berkshire mud that day.

When I got home I went out and bought Check Your Head and it made me re-evaluate the music I listened to. I had been into early Hip Hop at a very young age when it was still called Electro and hadn’t really opened itself up to sampling of old funk, jazz and disco records – it had mainly been a drum machine and/or a DJ with MC’s rapping over the top. I then got into indie and grunge and really kind of “forgot” about hip hop save for De La Souls “3ft high & Rising”– ok I still had a couple of Run DMC records and some Electro compilations but they sat at the back of my collection I really new nothing about the black music that had preceded it.

So this album knocked me sideways – from the opening Jimmy James to the last track Namasté this is a total melting pot of musical styles. This record reawakened my interest in hip hop and also kick-started me on a journey of discovery through funk, jazz, disco, reggae etc

It opened my ears and gave me a launchpad into finding out where the samples, beats and people namechecked in some of the lyrics had come from originally.

You want massive beats and jump around party hip hop? see “Jimmy James” ,“So Whatcha Want?” and “Professor Booty”. You want smooth funk instrumentals? See “In 3’s”, “Pow” and “Groove Holmes” . You want a dreamy dub/funk meander through half remembered drug experiences then check Namasté……”Dark is not the opposite of light, it’s the absence of light”….You want a 3 minute hardcore punk shout fest?!– see “Time for livin’”.

This album is a complete mix of musical styles but it all hangs together perfectly and all the tracks have a solid foundation in THE FUNK©. The Beastie Boys take 30 odd years of musical influences and distil it down into an album to nod your head to, to dance to, to relax to, to smile to and to simply revel in! Ace.


  • iyers

    RIP Adam Yauch aka MCA

    Mag 5 2012, 14:39
  • Darkerthanlife

    Yeah very well put, but don't forget that crazy Irishman that cajouled you towards the other side of musical tranquility. RIP Boy from Brooklyn.

    Mag 5 2012, 19:19
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