Top 10 Beastie Boys Songs With Classic Rock Samples
Rock and Roll Hall of Famers the Beastie Boys may have made their name in hip-hop, but they often sampled or referenced classic rock songs. Their early albums in particular broke ground in the way hard rock riffs and hip-hop beats could seamlessly blend and appeal to both audiences. Here is our list of the Top 10 Beastie Boys Songs With Classic Rock Samples
“The Biz vs. the Nuge”
At only 33 seconds, this cut from 1992’s Check Your Head barely qualifies as a song. But getting rapper Biz Markie to put his distinctive flow over the opening riff from Ted Nugent‘s “Homebound” is the essence of what the Beasties’ meshing of rap and rock was all about.
The Beastie Boys’ 1985 debut single as a rap group after their false start as a hardcore punk act featured the band rapping over a sample of the classic riff from AC/DC‘s “Back in Black.” But they recorded the song without getting permission from AC/DC and the record was taken out of circulation, where it remained until it was released as a single in Europe in 2007.
A Donovan song may seem like an usual place to look for a drum break in a hip-hop song, but that’s what made the Beastie Boys different from everybody else. As they sing, “I’m a dusted old bummy Hurdy Gurdy Man” at 2:46, Clem Cattini’s one-bar drum fill from “Hurdy Gurdy Man” appears underneath.
“Looking Down the Barrel of a Gun”
Does that chiming bell that appears for the first time at 0:14 sound familiar? It’s from “Time” by Pink Floyd. In fact, this cut from Paul’s Boutique borrows much of its structure from the introduction to “Time.” Also listen at 1:51 for a quick wail from Leslie West‘s guitar from Mountain‘s “Mississippi Queen.”
“Rhymin & Stealin”
Anybody wanting to know what Black Sabbath would have sounded like if John Bonham was the drummer should listen to this. Bonzo’s drum track from Led Zeppelin‘s “When the Levee Breaks” joins forces with Tony Iommi‘s riff from “Sweet Leaf” packs a huge wallop. And, just for fun, at 2:42 they even throw in a dash of the Clash‘s cover of Bobby Fuller’s “I Fought The Law.”
Jimmy James was a pseudonym used by Jimi Hendrix in 1966 for his band the Blue Flame. On their 1992 album, Check Your Head, the Beasties paid tribute to rock’s greatest guitarist by not only naming a song after him, but by sampling a half-dozen of his songs. The song’s introduction features the distinctive trill of “Foxey Lady,” and you can also hear sound effects of “EXP,” “Third Stone From the Sun,” “Are You Experienced,” “‘Voodoo Child (Slight Return)” and “Still Raining, Still Dreaming” deep within its grooves.
Mixed in with snippets of about a dozen classic funk tracks is blink-and-you-miss-it nod to the kings of glam, the Sweet. At 3:11 you can hear Billy Connolly’s killer delivery of the line “She thinks she’s the passionate one” from their No. 5 hit, “Ballroom Blitz.” This is a classic example of how the Beasties paid tribute to their influences with a sense of humor.
“No Sleep Till Brooklyn”
It may have seemed like heresy back in 1986, but there’s no denying that getting Slayer’s Kerry King to play Angus Young’s thunderous riff from AC/DC’s “T.N.T.” (and avoiding a repeat of what happened with “Rock Hard”) and rapping over it established the Beastie Boys as classic rock lovers and helped bring hip-hop into the suburbs. And if that’s not enough, the song’s title is itself a reference to Motorhead‘s 1981 live album No Sleep ’til Hammersmith.
The Beastie Boys are at their most gleefully obnoxious on this update of the B-Side to the Beatles‘ “Help!” single. They sampled George Harrison and John Lennon singing “How can you laugh?” and rewrote the lyrics around a different meaning of the phrase, “I’m Down.” Unfortunately, Michael Jackson, who had no problem selling Beatles songs to sneaker companies, objected to the song and refused to let it be released (see what we did there?) on Licensed to Ill, but it has found its way onto many bootlegs over the years.
The Beastie Boys sampled Led Zeppelin almost as often as Zep ripped off old bluesmen. You don’t have to listen too deep for this one. Jimmy Page‘s monster riff from “The Ocean” hits you hard and often throughout this track from Licensed to Ill.