Musings on a Classic ~ Paul’s Boutique

Ad Rock Beastie Boys Capitol Records MCA Adam Yauch Mike D Pauls Boutique

The soundscape of Paul’s Boutique was a total departure from License to Ill. The Dust Brothers (E.Z. Mike (Michael Simpson) and King Gizmo (John King)) are said to have utilized *hundreds* of samples in the creation & production of this album ~ everything from the Sugarhill Gang to the Ramones, the Beatles to the Eagles. The “Boys” had grown lyrically as well, having moved from NY to LA (Laurel Canyon to be exact — a neighborhood with a rich, bohemian musical history of residents like Frank Zappa, Jim Morrison, Janis Joplin) the slow pace was opposite NY and it showed in their lyrics for Paul’s as well as their cadences & flows.
I’d often see Ad Rock, MCA and Mike D. playing basketball at Wonderland Elementary School (my alma mater) on Saturday afternoons with a crew of local skaters and sometimes other musicians.
Although the 1960s and 70s Laurel Canyon was made up of many folk singers, a few Jazz players and some rock’n’rollers, in the 80s we also had Ice-T (and his lovely wife Darlene) on one side of the canyon as well as Evil-E from Rhyme Syndicate on the other side. (Not that I ever saw The Beastie Boys play ball with Ice T and Evil E, that would have been too much even for me to witness).
My raucous crew of multi-culti friends had cut our teeth ditching school and finding places to listen to License To Ill loud as hell while imbibing Olde English, Cisco Gold or someone’s parents liquor while puffing on someone else’s parents’ Ganja (sorry, Mom). On the rare occasion acid or shrooms were also involved, but for a good 6-month run, License to Ill was the soundtrack to it all.
So at first, I didn’t really love Paul’s Boutique because it wasn’t the same. Then after the album grew on me — particularly the lush yet sporadic use of every different kind of music sample imaginable — I came to love it. But the videos sealed the deal, because they were mini-movies that transported me for a few minutes at a time out of the hellscape of 1989/1990s Los Angeles — rough though and dangerous — into a weird and surreal place known as Paul’s Boutique.
Happy anniversary to a wonderful creation by The Dust Brothers and The Beastie Boys, the inimitable Paul’s Boutique.
Walasia “MJ” Shabazz @Noorscience

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