In the mid-1980s, the idea of white middle-class Jewish rappers may have provoked laughter or outright disdain, but the Beastie Boys' albums and singles have shown that they are anything but a joke. After hip-hop and rock fused into the music of choice for rebellious American youth, it became increasingly clear that the Beastie Boys deserved to be regarded as true musical innovators. The release of 1989's PAUL'S BOUTIQUE began the Beasties' transition from lewd, party-seeking prankers to sophisticated, party-throwing sonic pioneers, with band members ditching the six-packs and gold chains in favor of Buddhism and social activism. The trio's newfound maturity and good-natured vibe only enhanced their success, leading to a continued streak of hit albums. Not bad for three New York City weisenheimers.
Between 1986''s Licensed to Ill and 1999''s hits package, The Sounds of Science, the Beastie Boys matured from attention-starved brats to insightful, funky, trendsetting brats with an ace record collection and top choice in collaborators. And by staying in tune with their inner children, the Beasties have also managed not to drop off in fervor as they''ve continued to push their boundaries. How many other hip-hop/rock groups would be able to put songs as different as the hard-core "Egg Raid on Mojo" and the jazzed-out instrumental "Sabrosa" on the same collection? As well as a slightly deranged take on Elton John''s "Benny and the Jets"? At a hefty 42 tracks, this collection has something for everyone--and manages not to skimp on the hits or pad itself with filler. Though it would serve well as an introduction, The Sound of Science is even better as a companion. --Randy Silver
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