Hear Every Sample on the Beastie Boys’ Acclaimed Album, Paul’s Boutique–and Discover Where They Came From

How would the Beast­ie Boys fol­low their debut, Licensed to Ill, won­dered crit­ics when the album rose to num­ber one after its 1986 release. The cross-over appeal of their hip hop/frat rock solid­i­fied a fan base whose devo­tion often mir­rored their par­ents’ revul­sion. Like many of their lat­er imi­ta­tors, the Beast­ie Boys could have played over­grown delin­quents till their fans aged out of the act.

Few crit­ics expect­ed more from them. “Rolling Stone enti­tled their review ‘Three Idiots Cre­ate a Mas­ter­piece’ and gave more cred­it to pro­duc­er Rick Rubin,” writes Colleen Mur­phy at Clas­sic Album Sun­days. Three years lat­er, they far sur­passed expec­ta­tions with their exper­i­men­tal sec­ond album, 1989’s Paul’s Bou­tique, though it took a lit­tle while for the fans to catch up.

It’s a record so dense with allu­sions both musi­cal and lyri­cal, so orig­i­nal in its ver­bal inter­play and com­ic sto­ry­telling, that the Beast­ie Boys were sud­den­ly hailed as seri­ous artists. As Mur­phy puts it:

Paul’s Bou­tique gave the Beast­ie Boys the crit­i­cal acclaim they des­per­ate­ly desired. Rolling Stone maneu­vered a U‑turn and brazen­ly called it, “the Pet Sounds / The Dark Side of the Moon of hip hop.” But more impor­tant­ly, it also earned the group respect with their peers and idols. Miles Davis claimed he nev­er got tired of lis­ten­ing to it, and Pub­lic Enemy’s Chuck D even said, ‘The dirty secret among the Black hip hop com­mu­ni­ty at the time of the release was that Paul’s Bou­tique had the best beats.”

They spat absurd­ly hilar­i­ous rhymes by the dozen in mock epic nar­ra­tives brim­ming with rhyth­mic and melod­ic com­plex­i­ty, thanks to the high-con­cept pro­duc­tion by the Dust Broth­ers. The two pro­duc­ers pieced the album’s sound­scape togeth­er from an esti­mat­ed 150-odd sam­ples, a method that “would be pro­hib­i­tive­ly expen­sive if not impos­si­ble” today, notes Kot­tke. In the video above, you can hear every sam­ple on the album, “from the sound­track to Car Wash to the Sug­arhill Gang to the Eagles to the Ramones to the Bea­t­les.”

For legal and cre­ative rea­sons, noth­ing has ever sound­ed quite like Paul’s Bou­tique (except, per­haps, De La Soul’s Three-Feet High and Ris­ing, a sim­i­lar­ly ground­break­ing, sam­ple-heavy album released the same year). Thir­ty years after it came out, “it’s still not out of the ordi­nary to dis­cov­er some­thing you nev­er heard before across this 15-track odyssey into a thrift sto­ry rack full of weird vinyl,” Bill­board points out in a list of 10 deep cuts sam­pled on the record.

Like every clas­sic album, Paul’s Bou­tique repays end­less re-lis­tens, both for its sur­re­al lyri­cal play­ful­ness and library of musi­cal ref­er­ences. Hear­ing the breadth of sam­ples that built the album dri­ves home how much those two fea­tures are inter­wo­ven. Head over to Kot­tke for more Paul’s Bou­tique good­ies, includ­ing a remix with source tracks and audio com­men­tary and a Spo­ti­fy playlist of all the sam­pled songs.

via Laugh­ing Squid/Kot­tke

Relat­ed Con­tent:

The Beast­ie Boys Release a New Free­wheel­ing Mem­oir, and a Star-Stud­ded 13-Hour Audio­book Fea­tur­ing Snoop Dogg, Elvis Costel­lo, Bette Midler, John Stew­art & Dozens More

Look How Young They Are!: The Beast­ie Boys Per­form­ing Live Their Very First Hit, “Cooky Puss” (1983)

‘Beast­ie Boys on Being Stu­pid’: An Ani­mat­ed Inter­view From 1985

Josh Jones is a writer and musi­cian based in Durham, NC. Fol­low him at @jdmagness.

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