Wednesday, January 14, 2009

If I had a penny for my thoughts I'd be a millionaire [Beastie Boys]

The Beastie Boys are reissuing the classic album Paul's Boutique on January 27 in celebration of its 20th anniversary, which makes you and me very, very old people [Source]. It was deemed, for the most part, a critical failure in 1989 (although following up on the absurd success of their debut, License to Ill, had to be tough), the Beasties' second album gained cult success and has come to be recognized as an all-timer in the rap canon. Incidentally, 1989 was also a big year for me. That year I discovered The Price Is Right, when I went to my friend's house before p.m. kindergarten and we ate Spaghetti-Ohs while Bob Barker babysat via television, mesmerizing us with his shiny white hair and conductor's wand microphone. I also turned six, so I had to start using both hands to tell people how old I was. I got to sleep in school, drank chocolate milk every day, and I seem to recall reading lots of enormous books. Oh, and did I mention the bitches?

From those glory days until now, the classic LP has never been digitally remastered. The original vinyl artwork has also been restored in the form of an eight-panel digipak (Beastie Boys keep it green) displaying a panoramic view of that now-familiar intersection at Rivington and Ludlow on the LES. Other reissue perks include a foldout poster and access to a download of "track-by-track" commentary from Mike D, Ad-Rock and MCA, who share stories, thoughts and insights about each song as it plays in the background.

Like you and me, the Beastie Boys are advancing in years but still fighting for their right to party, with plans for a new studio album in '09 to follow up on 2007's The Mix Up. I was lucky enough to check out their stop in Central Park that summer, and I was overwhelmed by their intensity and showmanship, but also how well they related to and played off of the crowd, many of whom (myself included) were drooling toddlers when the three MCs and one DJ, now into their forties, first appeared on the scene. That show remains an all-time favorite for me.

In other Beastie news (specifically for those who have derided me for my considerable East Coast bias), here's one reason I wish I were livin' out Californee-way right about now: Over 100 artists have contributed to an awesome new Beastie-inspired exhibit called "Under the Influence" at Gallery 1988 in Los Angeles. The title is apropos, considering the profound influence that the Beastie Boys have had during their storied career as the first relevant white hip-hop group. Despite the initial corny factor, they have not only endured but inspired others and continued to grow creatively. Sadly, I won't be visiting L.A. any time soon, but for all of those who, like me, prefer to boast to the East Coast, the entire collection is available online, right here. A few of my favorites below.

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