Talk about bad timing — suing a group for illegal sampling just when one of their founding members has passed away. But that’s exactly what hip hop/R&B label TufAmerica did, one day before Adam Yauch aka MCA, founding member of the Beastie Boys, lost a prolonged battle with cancer. As the news broke a few days later, music blogs around the world expressed shock at the insensitivity of such a decision.
It also smacks of ridiculousness, considering that the Beastie Boys seminal first two albums — Licensed to Ill (1986) and Paul’s Boutique (1989) — used samples before laws enforcing permission came into effect.
However, while Licensed... remains their best-known album, Paul’s Boutique is the album that established them as one of the greatest hip hop groups of all time. A commercial failure initially, Paul’s Boutique has now been certified double platinum and, in 2003, was ranked 156th on Rolling Stone magazine’s list of the 500 greatest albums of all time, who now consider it “the Sgt Pepper’s of rap”.
While their rants were still juvenile and boastful, the name-dropping lyrics were smarter and sharper than before (particularly on 'Shake Your Rump' and 'The Sounds of Science'). The sampling was dense, experimental and unlike anything the world had ever heard before. Fans of the album reportedly included jazz trumpet legend Miles Davis and Chuck D of hip hop group Public Enemy, who once admitted in an interview that the black hip hop community’s dirty secret, at the time, was that Paul’s Boutique had the best beats.