3 Eternal Classic Songs from the Beastie Boys

The New York City rap trio known as the Beastie Boys has one of the most fascinating career arcs of anyone in hip-hop. The group originally started out as punk rockers before transitioning into a bombastic party rap group that put out songs for people to cut loose to. Then, Mike D, Ad-Rock and MCA turned into one of the most thoughtful, cerebral groups in the game.

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But along the way, the group both picked up many fans and rubbed others the wrong way. Still, though, the Beasties put out a number of songs that will go on to stand the test of time. While every track may not be a fan favorite, there are some that will last forever. And that is the subject of this list. Here below are three eternal classic rap songs from the group.

[RELATED: The 22 Best Hip-Hop Acts of the ’80s, from Beastie Boys and Ice-T to Run D.M.C. and LL Cool J]

“Sabotage” from Ill Communication (1994)

This song, released on the trio’s 1994 LP Ill Communication, hearkens back to the band’s original punk rock roots. Fuzzy guitars and driving drums come together as Ad-Rock sings, his voice breaking up the microphone. In one sense the song seems directed at political corruption (note the term Watergate) but Ad-Rock, in the 2020 documentary Beastie Boys Story, said its a fictitious rant about a music producer who “was the worst person ever and how he was always sabotaging us and holding us back.” Either way, the stirring song begins like this,

I can’t stand it, I know you planned it
I’m gonna set it straight, this Watergate
I can’t stand rocking when I’m in here
‘Cause your crystal ball ain’t so crystal clear
So while you sit back and wonder why
I got this fucking thorn in my side
Oh my God, it’s a mirage
I’m tellin’ y’all, it’s a sabotage

“(You Gotta) Fight For Your Right (To Party!)” from Licensed to Ill (1986)

This is a song the band has tried to live down, like adults trying to forget their rambunctious days staying up late at night and drinking beer until dawn. It’s a song for those in their late teens or early 20s. But that’s exactly why the track will live forever. Released on the band’s 1986 debut LP Licensed to Ill, which is one of the best-selling rap albums of all time, the trio talks about youthful rebellion and debauchery. The song opens,

You wake up late for school, man you don’t want to go
You ask you mom, please? but she still says, no
You missed two classes, and no homework
But your teacher preaches class like you’re some kind of jerk

You gotta fight for your right to party

“Intergalactic” from Hello Nasty (1998)

This song is as well known for its vocal performance as it is for its production. Though it came out more than 25 years ago on the group’s 1998 LP Hello Nasty, it still seems somehow futuristic. The song is a skillful, brash offering that highlights outer space and robotics. It’s an instant energizer without being frivolous and sophomoric. Raps the trio,

Well, now, don’t you tell me to smile
You stick around I’ll make it worth your while
My number’s beyond what you can dial
Maybe it’s because we’re so versatile
Style, profile, I said
It always brings me back when I hear, “ooh, child!”
From The Hudson River out to the Nile
I run the marathon to the very last mile

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Photo by Ron Galella, Ltd./Ron Galella Collection via Getty Images

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