Beastie Boys’ Licensed to Ill Turns 25

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November 15, 2011 marks the 25th year anniversary of the Beastie Boys’ groundbreaking album Licensed to Ill (Of course, we all know the story that the original title of the album was Don’t Be a Faggot, but Columbia Records fortunately said no). It was the debut album for the Jewish trio, Mike D, MCA and Ad-Rock, during a time when rap music was just getting started and had almost exclusively been associated with African-American artists. Others spent time with the band, including producer Rick Rubin and Doctor Dré (the one from  MTV).

Licensed to Ill brought a couple of cheesy but crowd-pleasing songs, a couple of harder hits, and one anthem that has stood the test of time. Their videos were usually humorous (sound familiar, Marshall Mathers?) and fans have stood behind them for decades.

Had it not been for Licensed to Ill, it’s hard to say whether the Beasties would still have the following they have today, considering loyal fans routinely point out that their better music came out on later albums. But it’s clear that Ill put them on the map in the ’80s, ensuring the masses that white boys could rap, too.

Songs That Are Corny

(Also watch this Lego version of Girls)

Despite it still being the Beastie Boys spitting into the microphone for “Brass Monkey” and “Girls,” the songs themselves, relatively speaking, are pretty much the equivalent of nursery rhymes for adults. That doesn’t make them bad, and when drunk and listening to them you HAVE to turn up the volume, but it’s fair to say that these two songs on their own could have more easily turned this band into a one-hit wonder (okay, two-hit wonder) and a punchline of the Beavis and Butt-head generation if this was all they had. Fortunately for them, this isn’t where it ended.

Songs That Got Them Past the Corniness

I’d say these songs are the meat and potatoes of the album, connecting the corny songs with what ultimately elevates this band into the Mount Rushmore of awesome songs of the 20th century:

The Anthem of a Generation

Happy 25th anniversary Licensed to Ill. Glad you had your name changed.