Music Info Collections Misc
Song Spotlight >MusicHome  

Production Credits:


Click for Lyrics

First Appearance: Ill Communication LP May 31, 1994
Written by: Beastie Boys
Performed by: Beastie Boys
Production Notes: Produced by Beastie Boys and Mario Caldato, recorded and mixed at G-Son Studios, Atwater Village CA and Tin Pan Alley, New York, NY. Engineered by Mario Caldato and assistant engineer Settly. Sequenced at Bundy's Playhouse, mastered at Futuredisc by Tom Baker

Behind the Beats and Lyrics...


  • Watergate - an early 1970's U.S. political scandal surrounding the revelation of illegal activities on the part of the Republican administration of President Richard Nixon
  • Buddy Rich (1917-1987) - an innovative 50's-60's jazz drummer


Beastie Boys

"'Sabotage' was one of the first songs recorded and the very last one to be finished on Ill Communication. While we were recording at Tin Pan Alley, we would play these like jazzy hippie jams for hours. Some of them came out kind of funky, and a bunch of them remained bad jazzy hippie jams. This guy named Chris ran the place. He was cool, but he never really hung out -- maybe 'cause he was a little bored with the noodling." - Adam Horovitz, 1999

"[Adam] Yauch came in one day with this idea for a song where the fuzz bass keeps playing and we would all do these hits and stops to bring like suspense and drama. As we were recording it, Chris runs in the room and starts freaking out. He's all, 'This is the shit! This shit rocks!' for really feeling it. We didn't know what to do with it, so we called it 'Chris Rock,' and for like a year it was just an instrumental. We knew it should have vocals, so after a couple ideas and things, two weeks before we handed in the record, I went to Mario's house and did the vocals on his 8-track. So Chris, I hope you're happy." - Adam Horovitz, 1999

"Adrock wrote [Sabotage] at the last moment. The album [Ill Communication] was in the bag, but he reached back into the can and pulled a rabbit out of his hat." - Bob Mack, 2000


"...a bass-driven metallic rapfest" - Rolling Stone, 1994

"...serves up a slab of red-meat metal that not even Sabbath fans could resist" - Rolling Stone, 1998

"A thrilling combination of their funk groove and hardcore punk approaches, it's a rudimentary song based around a monumental fuzz bass riff and some fairly meaningless lyrics shouted by Adrock. There's no chorus, just scratching that sounds like juggernaut crunching gears, and no tune to speak of either>" - excerpted from Rhyming & Stealing: A History of the Beastie Boys by Angus Batey, 1998

"[A] groundbreaking rocked-out jam" - excerpted from Rock: The Essential Album Guide by Gary Graff and Daniel Durchholz

"...put the Shabbas back in Black Sabbath, forging a rap/metal fusion..." - excerpted from The Vibe Story of Hip-Hop by Alan Light, 1999

"...arguably one of the greatest arena rock songs of all time" - excerpted from The Vibe Story of Hip-Hop by Alan Light, 1999


Interesting Footnote:

In response to the September 11th terrorist attacks, Clear Channel radio corporation, the world's largest radio network, sent out a list of some 150 lyrically questionable songs, including Sabotage, to its radio stations, recommending that the songs not be aired. Some songs were overtly violent in their intent, but the majority simply contained metaphorical language or narrative aspects that connected uncomfortably with the tragedy.


Released Versions:

Sabotage (Acapella)
Sabotage (Clean Version)
Sabotage (Instrumental)
Sabotage (Live)


Performed in 246 known Concerts.

First known Performance:
28-May-1994 : Radio Music Hall, Washington, DC, United States

Last known Performance:
12-Jun-2009 : Great Stage Park, Manchester, TN, United States

Previous Next