Beastie Boys: Rap's Elder Statesmen Go Back In Time



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The Beastie Boys' eighth album, Hot Sauce Committee Part Two, is out this month — along with a long-form music video that takes a comedic look back at the group's early days. (Courtesy of the artist)
The Beastie Boys' eighth album, Hot Sauce Committee Part Two, is out this month — along with a long-form music video that takes a comedic look back at the group's early days. (Courtesy of the artist)

"In film terms," says Mike Diamond, "this is a period piece."

He's talking about the latest music video by the Beastie Boys, which was just released in conjunction with their long-anticipated eighth album, Hot Sauce Committee Part Two. Diamond and Adam Horovitz, better known by the stage names Mike D and Ad-Rock, started the group with their bandmate Adam "MCA" Yauch three decades ago. They burst onto the scene in 1986 with the album Licensed To Ill and its iconic first single, "(You Gotta) Fight for Your Right (to Party)."

To mark the song's 25th anniversary, the trio decided that the video for the newest Beastie Boys single, "Make Some Noise," would be a look back at their breakout moment. What they didn't anticipate was the scale the project would take on.

"It was supposed to be a video for a three-and-a-half-minute song. Before you knew, it was a 30-minute short film," Diamond tells Morning Edition's Steve Inskeep. "It takes place in 1986 when the 'Fight for Your Right (to Party)' music video finishes shooting — and then the hijinks ensue."

The plot of the video, which the group dubbed "Fight for Your Right (Revisited)," is intricate. You see the Beastie Boys of the 1980s, played by Elijah Wood, Seth Rogen and Danny McBride. They encounter three more actors, playing the 40-something Beastie Boys of today. The older guys have come back from the future — in a souped-up DeLorean, of course — to challenge their younger selves.

In classic form, the video is goofy, irreverent and self-referential. It's also a rogue's gallery of Hollywood stars, with appearances from Will Ferrell, Jack Black, Susan Sarandon, Stanley Tucci, Steve Buscemi, Jason Schwartzman and many others.

Clearly, the Beastie Boys have come a long way since their debut — but maturity brings its own challenges. The album that became Hot Sauce Committee Part Two was originally slated for a much earlier release, but was delayed when Adam Yauch (not present at this interview) was diagnosed with cancer in 2009. Horovitz says the group is handling the situation one day at a time.

"[We're] just holding on," he says. "He's in treatment and things are looking good." Diamond adds, "He's obviously our lifelong best friend. You have to just sort of hope for the best."

Of course, getting older has its quirkier moments as well. Diamond says he recently ended up in a tight corner when his kids saw some of the user comments on the Beastie Boys website.

"Of course, people's comments were expletive-filled," he says. "So then I was explaining how, to a certain degree, I do get paid to use profanity."

You can watch "Fight for Your Right (Revisited)" below. WARNING: This video contains explicit language and content that may not be suitable for some viewers.

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(Soundbite of humming and whistling)


Two of the three Beastie Boys came on the line from California the other day and warmed up for an interview.

Who am I talking with?

Mr. HOROVITZ: This is Adam Horovitz.

INSKEEP: Hey there, Adam.

Mr. MIKE DIAMOND (Member, Beastie Boys): And this is Mike Diamond.

INSKEEP: Adam, were you the one who was just singing?

Mr. HOROVITZ: Was I just singing?

INSKEEP: Da-ta-da.... Somebody was singing like that.

Mr. HOROVITZ: Hmm. Oh, yeah, yeah, yeah. Then that was me.

(Soundbite of song, "Fight for Your Right to Party")

THE BEASTIE BOYS (Musical Group): (Rapping) You got to fight for your right to party.

INSKEEP: Along with their band mate Adam Yauch, they became famous in the '80s for this song. A quarter century later, they've put out an album that tips the hat to themselves.

(Soundbite of song, "Too Many Rappers")

THE BEASTIE BOYS: (Rapping) Mic, check. One...

INSKEEP: The album is called "Hot Sauce Committee Part 2." It comes along with a music video that grew into more than a music video. It's a half-hour movie with an all-star cast, including actors who played the Beastie Boys themselves.

Mr. HOROVITZ: In film terms this is a period piece.

Mr. DIAMOND: It is.

Mr. HOROVITZ: Okay. It takes place in 1986 when the "Fight for Your Right to Party" music video finishes shooting.

INSKEEP: Mm-hum.

Mr. HOROVITZ: And then the high jinks ensue.

INSKEEP: Did this start out to just be, you know, kind of your normal music video and just gradually go more ambitious?

Mr. DIAMOND: Basically what happens is Adam Yauch - like the gift and the curse for Adam Yauch is that he can't stop. We were trying to come up with ideas for a video. And he was like, oh, I have this idea. And so me and Michael, oh, that's a cool idea. We should do it. And then Yauch doesn't just make a two-minute thing.

Mr. HOROVITZ: Well, it was supposed to be a video for, right, a three-and-a-half minute song. Before you knew it, was a 30-minute...

Mr. DIAMOND: Crazy.

Mr. HOROVITZ: ...short film.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. DIAMOND: Short film with Will Ferrell and all like the biggest...

INSKEEP: Jack Black, Seth Rogen, Danny McBride, Steve Buscemi, I mean it's an all-star cast.

Mr. HOROVITZ: John C. Riley.

Mr. DIAMOND: Yeah. I mean, come on.

Mr. HOROVITZ: Oh, The Tooch, Stanley Tucci.

Mr. DIAMOND: Big shout-out out to Tooch.

INSKEEP: The plot of this movie is a little intricate, requires some explanation. You see the Beastie Boys from the 1980s. They encounter three more actors, playing the 40-something Beastie Boys of today. The older guys have come back from the future, in a souped-up DeLorean, of course, and challenge their younger selves.

(Soundbite of video, "Hot Sauce Committee Part Two")

Mr. ELIJAH WOOD (Actor): (as a Beastie Boy) Who do you guys think you are?

Mr. WILL FERRELL (Actor): We're the real Beastie Boys (BLEEP), the ones from the future where the (BLEEP) is really real.

Mr. DANNY MCBRIDE (Actor): Yeah, guess what? That makes zero sense.

Mr. JACK BLACK (Actor): Sense is something you can't even make sense of until you've been to the future and spent time there. So shut your hole. And stand silent while we bring the world to a standstill with fresh, new music and new beats that you can't even imagine yet.

(Soundbite of song, "Make Some Noise")

INSKEEP: Clearly, the creators of the video are in a sentimental mood, thinking of their past. Like the video, the Beastie Boys' new music often references the old.

(Soundbite of song, "Make Some Noise")

THE BEASTIE BOYS: (Rapping) Yes, here we go again. Give you more, nothing lesser. Back on the mic is the anti-depressor. Ad-Rock, no pressure. Yes, we need this. The best is yet to come. And yes, believe this. Leggo my Eggo while I flex my ego. Step off my Seco, dressed up tuxedo sipping coffee, playing Keno in the casino. Want a lucky number, ask Mike Dino...

INSKEEP: Okay, so when you sing, We've gotta party for the right to fight...

(Soundbite of laughter)

INSKEEP: ...I mean it's hard not to catch the reference there.

Mr. HOROVITZ: Well, it is a direct reference.

Mr. DIAMOND: There's a couple different references actually.

Mr. HOROVITZ: To the song, yeah.

INSKEEP: Couple different references. What reference did I miss?

Mr. DIAMOND: Well, 'cause we did this "Fight for Your Right to Party" song and then Public Enemy had a song called "Party for Your Right to Fight."

Mr. HOROVITZ: Public Enemy referenced our song and we referenced their song referencing our song.

INSKEEP: So this is actually a tribute to Public Enemy, is the way that it's...

Mr. DIAMOND: No, it's a tribute to ourselves.

INSKEEP: Oh, okay.

(Soundbite of laughter)

INSKEEP: Which is, you know, I mean that's the style of hip-hop, isn't it? It's got to be all about you.

Mr. HOROVITZ: It is all about boasting.

Mr. DIAMOND: Braggodocio.

Mr. HOROVITZ: Actually I had to try, I had to explain that to my kids the other day.

INSKEEP: How old are your kids?

Mr. HOROVITZ: Eight and six. Two boys.

INSKEEP: And what was the question that they asked that led you to be explaining...

Mr. HOROVITZ: Dad, who's a better rapper?

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. HOROVITZ: You know, we were listening to our new record on our website. And I, of course, didn't realize that we had this thing called SoundCloud up there, where people post their comments. The people's comments are sort of streaming as the music is streaming.

INSKEEP: Uh-huh.

Mr. HOROVITZ: Of course, people's comments were expletive-filled.

Mr. DIAMOND: (Singing) Well...

Mr. HOROVITZ: So then we got into talking about how I was explaining that to a certain degree I do get paid to use profanity.

INSKEEP: Well, you get paid to brag.

Mr. HOROVITZ: Right, I tried to make that distinction. And then I explained that, well, actually being an emcee, a master of ceremonies, if you look at the history of it, it comes out of bragging and talking about what you have and how you're better than somebody else. And that's the tradition of the music.

(Soundbite of song, "OK")

BEASTIE BOYS: (Rapping) Now, I don't give a (BLEEP) who the hell you are. Please stop shouting in the seminar...

Mr. HOROVITZ: One of the things with this album was wanting to make a record with a lot of short songs.

INSKEEP: Why did you want to make them short?

Mr. HOROVITZ: You know, a lot of our favorite records are - if you look at some our favorite Clash songs, our favorite Elvis Costello songs, our favorite Public Enemy songs, they're three minute songs.

INSKEEP: You know, I'm thinking of really old 45s, where if you listen closely it sounds like the song at the beginning of the 45 pretty much fades up, as well as fading down at the end. And it just seems very obvious that the song was 15 seconds too long. And rather than re-record it, they just kind of faded it in. I mean you're pretty much doing that but in a more sophisticated way.

Mr. HOROVITZ: I like that you associate us with the word sophisticated. Not many people do.

(Soundbite of music)

INSKEEP: Guys, I want to ask about one other thing before I let you go. You have mentioned several times Adam Yauch. He's not with you today. If I'm not mistaken, the reason is that he's battling cancer. How have you guys been dealing with that?

Mr. DIAMOND: Just, you know, holding on. He's, you know, he's in treatment and things are looking good.


Mr. DIAMOND: So we're just, you know...

Mr. HOROVITZ: It's an interesting thing 'cause just obviously lifelong, our best friend forever and you know, you just have to sort of hope for the best.

INSKEEP: Did you know about his condition when you were recording, when you were doing this video?

Mr. DIAMOND: Doing the video, yeah.

Mr. HOROVITZ: For the video, yeah. When we were making the record, no.

INSKEEP: I'm kind of wondering if that might be the kind of event in his life, or even in your lives, to have it happen to a friend that would get you spinning back through the 20 and more years in thinking about all the different things that have happened.

Mr. DIAMOND: Could be.

Mr. HOROVITZ: Yeah, good point. Although I will have to say, just to set the record straight...

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. HOROVITZ: ...the idea was hatched prior to the cancer diagnosis. So...

INSKEEP: Okay, fine. Well, you know, I had a great literary point going there but

Mr. HOROVITZ: It's a good theory.

INSKEEP: ruined it with the facts.

Mr. HOROVITZ: And it was very poetic.

Mr. DIAMOND: We should have just left it that sophisticated part.

Mr. HOROVITZ: Right, it was very sophisticated - a very sophisticated theory but historically inaccurate.

(Soundbite of laughter)

INSKEEP: Michael Diamond, Adam Horovitz, thanks very much.

Mr. DIAMOND: Well, thank you.

Mr. HOROVITZ: Thank you.

(Soundbite of a song)

INSKEEP: The Beastie Boys' new album is "Hot Sauce Committee Part Two," and you can fight for the right to hear more of our interview by going to

It's MORNING EDITION from NPR news. I'm Steve Inskeep.


And I'm Renee Montagne. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.