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The Beastie Book Review
The following books have varying degrees of Beastie relevance.
Oh Snap!: The Rap Photography of Ricky Powell by Ricky Powell
One of two Ricky Powell books, this one only features hip hop acts. The book is mostly comprised of photographs of the Beastie Boys and Run DMC, so naturally, it's a good buy. His other book, The Rickford Files: Classic New York Photographs, is equally as good, although it has no Beastie Boys photographs.
Fuck You Heroes : Glen E. Friedman Photographs, 1976-1991 by Glen E. Friedman
Features photos from hip hop legends LL Cool J, Eric B & Rakim, Beastie Boys, Run DMC, and Public Enemy; to infamous punks Black Flag, Minor Threat, Bad Brains, and Fugazi. Friedman documented the early skateboarding scene with the Z-Boys, the early years of hardcore, and hip hop's adolescence. For Beastie fans, the book has a few classic photos from the Check Your Head era, plus a few from the Licensed to Ill era. This book will make a fine addition to your coffee table.
Fuck You Too: The Extras & More Photographs by Glen E. Friedman
This book is in the same format as the first book and features photos from all your favorite hip hop and punk artists, including the Beasties. The title covers a more recent time frame up to 1995. Buy it and put it next to the first book.
The first half of this 272 page book is excellent, it's hard to put down. It has some great stories on all the early Def Jam artists like Run DMC, Public Enemy, LL Cool J, and obviously the Beastie Boys. The second half however delves into areas that some Beastie fans might not care about, with coverage of later day Def Jam artists like Jay-Z and DMX. The book's main emphasis is on Russell Simmons, but still goes into some detail on Rick Rubin as well as small sections on Lyor Cohen. There are some minor errors within like showing a photo of the Beastie Boys with 2 of the names switched around, but generally speaking it's an interesting read.
Raising Hell : The Reign, Ruin, and Redemption of Run-D.M.C. and Jam Master Jay by Ronin Ro
Raising Hell : The Reign, Ruin, and Redemption of Run-D.M.C. and Jam Master Jay contains a surprisingly large amount of content and history relating to the Beastie Boys (1985-1987). Although Russell Simmons' book Life and Def attempted to tell the early history of Def Jam records/Rush Management; this book eclipses it and proceeds to be as much about Russell Simmons and Def Jam as it is about Joseph Simmons and Run DMC. Interview quotes from Adam Horovitz, and Beastie Boys' DJs: Dr. Dre and Hurricane give the reader insight into the true nature of the relationship that exists between Run DMC and the Beastie Boys. Even if you are not a fan of RUN DMC, the book is worth purchasing for it is a historical account of the Rap/Hip Hop through the 1980s.
Check the Technique: Liner Notes for Hip-Hop Junkies by Brian Coleman
June of 2007 saw the release of Brian Coleman's book Check the Technique: Liner Notes for Hip-Hop Junkies. The objective of this work was to provide hip-hop fans with first person (recording artist) accounts of what went into making 36 of hip-hop's most beloved albums. With each album getting its own in depth chapter, the book is nearly 500 pages long. A comprehensive look at the creation of the Beastie Boys hip-hop - funk - punk masterpiece Check Your Head makes up chapter 2 and Brian Coleman's interviews with Mario C., Money Mark, and the Beastie Boys will delight both the average fan as well as the beastiemaniac. If you were into hip-hop/rap during the 1980s and 1990s, this book is a must have. Some of the other projects highlighted include: Biz Markie's Goin' Off, Cypress Hill's Cypress Hill, De La Soul's 3 Feet High and Rising, and Run D.M.C.'s Raising Hell.
The Greatest Music Never Sold by Dan Leroy
Dan Leroy, the man who wrote the definitive book on Paul's Boutique, is back with another Beastie treat. This time it is concept book entitled The Greatest Music Never Sold, which includes the secrets of the unreleased 1989 Def Jam Records - Beastie Boys album The White House. Finally we get to hear Chuck D's side of things and get a glimpse into Def Jam's vaults. Also included in this book, is a very insightful look at the band's 1998 country-western album Country Mike's Greatest Hits. Adam Yauch and Michael Diamond let us in on what prompted the country sessions, the failed Spike Jonze-Beastie Boys movie project We Can Do This. To learn more about this project and how all the puzzle pieces fit together, pick up a copy of the book.
American Hardcore: A Tribal History by Steven Blush
Billed as the epitome of American hardcore books, this title is describes the American hardcore scene from 1980-86 by combining a slew of interviews about all and everything related to early hardcore. The book is a phenomenal primer for those who weren't in the scene as it was happening, but leaves much to be desired for those who are familiar with the early years of hardcore. Beastie fans should know that the book only has a few mentions of the Beasties and a scan of an early setlist.
Life and Def: Sex, Drugs, Money, + God by Russell Simmons
From his early years of hustling back in Queens to stories about Def Jam's rise as a multi-media force in the entertainment business, Russell's autobiography reads easily and holds a person's attention page after page. Unfortunately references made in regard to the Beastie Boys are few and far between. The band gets about 2.4 pages in a book that is over 220 pages in length. The disheartening thing is that during their brief mention Russell states: "When I first saw them live, they were the Young and the Useless, a punk band with more attitude than musicianship." Statements of that nature breed confusion about the band's origins and have the tendency to influence journalists who then go on to write inaccurate histories of the band in magazine articles.
I Make My Own Rules by LL Cool J
Although LL Cool J's book proudly displays a parental advisory logo on the front, the pages are pretty tame. If you are expecting to read about the crazy hotel parties LL Cool J and the Beastie Boys had on tour in 1987, you are likely going to be disappointed. The book only mentions the Beastie Boys in passing. It does however credit Adam Horovitz for the important role he played in getting Rick Rubin to initially take notice of LL Cool J's demo tape. Although short on Beastie material, I Make My Own Rules was well written and worth reading, especially if you have been curious about LL Cool J's rise to fame.
Rapcore: The Nu-Metal Rap Fusion by Dick Porter
Although the Beastie Boys said "...goatee metal rap please say goodnight" in "Alive," this book cites the Beastie Boys and Def Jam as some of movement's founding fathers. The fourth chapter, Louder Than a Bomb: Def Jam, retells the early Def Jam story and mentions the Beastie Boys, Public Enemy, and LL Cool J in the same stories that previous books have already told. Even though the chapter starts with a full page Licensed to Ill era photo of the Beastie Boys, the books following two images are simply the covers of the She's On It and Licensed to Ill twelve inches. Overall, there are not any new revelations in this book. In fact, certain aspects of chapter four share similar wording to that which you would find in Beastiemania.com's own Who's Who section. Beastiemania.com did not receive an acknowledgement in the back of the book. Yet, other fan based websites were mentioned.