Still illin' after all these years

Jon Foro on June 18, 2019
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Guys, the Beastie Boys wrote a book (or maybe conjured is a better word), and it's a piece of work. Michael Diamond and Adam Horovitz, otherwise known as Mike D and Ad-Rock, present Beastie Boys Book, a rambling, unruly stream-of-consciousness trip through more than three decades of uncensored memories—records, rashes, tours, graphic novels, and playlists. Madonna’s here, as is Guns N’ Roses, Dolly Parton, Johnny Ryall, and the Egg Man. Illustrated with dozens or possibly hundreds of pictures, we relive their earliest shows, go behind the scenes of their short-lived magazine, Grand Royal (which mainstreamed the mullet, the mostly unfortunate business-in-front/party-in-the-back hairstyle), and relive pickup basketball games between sets at Lollapalooza, in which Smashing Pumpkins’ Billy Corgan dunks savagely against brooding, mercurial type.

Lest you think this is frivolous, disreputable stuff, Amy Poehler, Wes Anderson, Jonathan Lethem, and National Book Award- and Pulitzer Prize-winner Colson Whitehead weigh in with their own contributions. We made a top 10 pick for our best books of the month in November 2018, and we weren't alone in our praise. The New York Times Book Review called Beastie Boys Book "a fascinating, generous book with portraits and detail that float by in bursts of color"; NPR's Morning Edition said, "Horovitz and Diamond share sincere moments of reflection about their music, their friendship and the guy who taught them to fix radiators, to care about human rights, to own up to mistakes and to grow up."

Beastie Boys Book is uncountable things, but overall it's a box full of love letters to fans, founding member Adam Yauch (who passed away in 2012), the early days of hip-hop, and dirty old New York. It's a book that can't, won’t stop giving.

But why are we talking about it now? May 31 marked the 25th anniversary of their landmark album, Ill Communication, 20 sprawling, eclectic, and mostly explicit songs including popular favorites "Sure Shot," "Sabotage," and "Root Down." To mark the occasion, he Amazon Music team has opened a commemorative store featuring Beastie Boys playlists, merch, and a mini-documentary produced for the occasion. To do our part, here are a few of the images from the book.


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