Book Review: Beastie Boys Book

Beastie Boys Book
Michael Diamond, Adam Horovitz, 
Ada Calhoun

Formed as a New York City hardcore band in 1981, Beastie Boys struck an unlikely path to global hip hop superstardom. Here is their story. . .

A panoramic experience that tells the story of Beastie Boys, a book as unique as the band itself–by band members ADROCK and Mike D, with contributions from Amy Poehler, Colson Whitehead, Spike Jonze, Wes Anderson, Luc Sante, and more.

Formed as a New York City hardcore band in 1981, Beastie Boys struck an unlikely path to global hip hop superstardom. Here is their story, told for the first time in the words of the band. Adam “ADROCK” Horovitz and Michael “Mike D” Diamond offer revealing and very funny accounts of their transition from teenage punks to budding rappers; their early collaboration with Russell Simmons and Rick Rubin; the debut album that became the first hip hop record ever to hit #1, Licensed to Ill–and the album’s messy fallout as the band broke with Def Jam; their move to Los Angeles and rebirth with the genre-defying masterpiece Paul’s Boutique; their evolution as musicians and social activists over the course of the classic albums Check Your Head, Ill Communication, and Hello Nasty and the Tibetan Freedom Concert benefits conceived by the late Adam “MCA” Yauch; and more. For more than thirty years, this band has had an inescapable and indelible influence on popular culture.

With a style as distinctive and eclectic as a Beastie Boys album, Beastie Boys Book upends the typical music memoir. Alongside the band narrative you will find rare photos, original illustrations, a cookbook by chef Roy Choi, a graphic novel, a map of Beastie Boys’ New York, mixtape playlists, pieces by guest contributors, and many more surprises.

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I really didn’t have high expectations for this book. As a child of the ’80s, I grew up on The Beastie Boys (as I called them), so I knew I had to give this book a shot. Wow! Am I so glad that I did. This was one of the most poignant, fascinating, funny, and well-written books I have read. 

Adam “ADROCK” Horovitz and Michael “Mike D” Diamond take the reader on a journey through the inception of Beastie Boys through the end and the loss of Adam “MCA” Yauch. I think it is their stories and of MCA that touched me the most. You can really tell that they were all best friends and that both miss their friend dearly. 

This book is a monster, coming in at 590 pages! Although it is a huge book, the Beasties keep you thoroughly entertained with guest writers, like Amy Poehler and Spike Jones, mixtape playlists, funny stories (my favorite is about Cookie Puss), and a cookbook with recipes, which would totally seem out of place in any other book but this one. Everything about this book just works. It is more than a musical memoir, it is one half crazy ride and the other loving tribute to MCA.

I absolutely loved this book! Of course, I give it 5 out of 5 stars. I highly recommend this book to music lovers, fans of Beastie Boys or even the casual listener, and children of the ’80s. Pick it up! It won’t disappoint.

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