|Morning Call (3 April 1987) - Len Righi:
"None of us has anything to say, but we keep on talking," proclaimed
the Beastie Boys' King Ad-Rock between the belches and bad language
that punctuated a recent telephone conversation.
Leaving aside the truth or falsity of the youngest (19) Beastie's
quip, the white rap 'n' rock band from Manhattan has received the E.F.
Hutton treatment: when they talk, a lot of people listen. Pop culture
vultures just can't seem to get enough of King Ad-Rock (Adam
Horovitz), Mike D. (Michael Diamond, 20) and MCA (Adam Yauch, 22)'s
foul-mouthed funnies and antagonistic antics. The Beasties' No. 1
single, "Fight for Your Right (to Party)," has become an MTV staple,
and the band's debut LP on Def Jam, "Licensed To Ill," is No. 1 on
Billboard's pop album chart, was a hit on the black music chart and
has sold an estimated 3 million copies. The band, which performs
Wednesday night at Stabler Arena, Bethlehem, was a presenter at this
year's Grammy Awards show, and has been written about, dissected and
analyzed by the likes of The New York Daily News, Village Voice, The
Los Angeles Times, and Time, Newsweek and People magazines. And still
the interview requests come in.
So, are the Beasties beginning to feel hemmed in and perhaps
overwhelmed by their image as obnoxious, drug-taking, beer-drinking,
sex-obsessed, macho slobs? "Yes, sometimes, maybe," King Ad-Rock
replied without missing a beat.
Well, how about the ill will the Beasties' anti-social behavior has
fostered within the industry? The celebrated run-in with Dick Clark;
the chilly relationship with Columbia Records; the verbal threats
against Michael Jackson for nixing their version of the Beatles' "I'm
Down" and keeping it off their LP, and being banned from a major hotel
chain in England - aren't industry types just waiting for the Beasties
to fall on their derriere?
"There are a lot of bull---- artists and yes men in this industry and
they are meaningless," replied King Ad-Rock. "Whatever they think
doesn't matter to me. People want to have a good time. That's what we
stand for. I didn't try to get where I am now, so I'm not worried
about falling back to where I was." So what's the story with Dick
Clark? Are the Beasties really banned from "American Bandstand" for
insulting Clark's wife? "We never even saw his wife," said King
Ad-Rock. "He said we stole a telephone from his office. I think I can
buy a $10 phone on the street, so why would I have to steal one from
The Beasties, King Ad-Rock said, were unhappy that Clark edited "Fight
for Your Right" when they performed the song on "Bandstand." "We had
to (perform) to a tape (of the song). We couldn't play it live, so we
threw our mikes on the ground and wrecked them."
And Michael Jackson? After all, it was King Ad-Rock who made the
widely circulated quote, "If I ever meet Wacko Jacko, I'm gonna punch
him in the head."
"Naw, I don't wanna punch Jacko," said King Ad- Rock. "I used to like
him actually. He was cool when he was little. In the Jackson 5, he was
def. But once he went off on himself, around the time of 'Ben,' he
The Beasties began their unlikely climb to the top in 1979 as a
hardcore punk band formed by Mike D. and MCA and two other friends.
King Ad-Rock, who was a member of another hardcore band, The Young And
The Useless, joined up when the Beasties' original guitarist quit. But
that arrangement didn't last long, and the group broke up. In 1983
Mike D., MCA and King Ad-Rock regrouped and began experimenting with
hip hop and rap. The result was "Cookie Puss," which featured a rhythm
track and King Ad-Rock placing phone calls to the toll-free number for
Carvel ice cream and giving the operators a very hard time.
The Beasties blend of rap and rock earned them an invitation from
Madonna in 1985 to open her 35-city Material Girl tour, and last
summer they were part of the Raising Hell tour featuring Run-D.M.C.,
Whodini and L.L. Cool J. This current go-round began more than two
months ago, and probably will extend another three months and include
stops in Europe and Japan, making it the longest trek yet for the
King Ad-Rock said the grueling schedule and demands that come with
being this moment's sensation haven't fundamentally changed him. "If
anything, I've gotten worse. I've gotten more bitter. But we've also
become more ourselves. We realize the only way we're gonna make it is
to be ourselves.
"What makes me mad is these feminists who get mad at us for making fun
of women. We make fun of everybody . . . Our album is filled with
inside jokes, most of them about ourselves.
"We don't make records for 'fans,' whatever 'fans' means. Making a
record (the way) the Human League (does), that's bull----. We're just
doing what any (expletive) kid is doing. We're not making records for
'a fan,' but a friend."
So who are the fans that are coming to see the Beasties? "We get some
crazy, weird audiences, people from 6 to 52. Skinheads, parents,
college kids, b boys . . . It's not just a group of people there to
King Ad-Rock complained that writers rarely ask the Beasties about
their music, so he volunteered the following information: The idea for
"Fight for Your Right" came from MCA. "It was a thing we used to just
run around and say," said King Ad-Rock. "(MCA) wrote the chorus and I
wrote the words."
His favorite song is the doo wop/ rap "Girls," whose sexist sentiments
have earned condemnation from many quarters. "It was fun writing it,
and because it causes so much controversy, even though it's just fun."
Then, he added, "It's my father's favorite, too." Why? "Because he's
stuck in the '50s."
King Ad-Rock described "The New Style," "Time to Get Ill," and
"Desperado" as "a montage of life itself," and "She's Crafty" as "the
Beasties version of 'Norwegian Wood.' My girlfriend gave me a copy of
'Rubber Soul' and I realized the Beatles copied us."
So much for songcraft. How about pet peeves?
"Two things bug me," King Ad-Rock said. "First, people think a lot of
drugs and s--- and sexism and rock 'n' roll are a bad influence on
kids. But kids can make up their own minds. Why is it all right to
have Mick Jagger and Keith Richards to look up to and they come down
"The other thing is, that we're (thought of as) somebody's puppets.
We're not. We've been in this thingso long. We started rapping long
before it ever left New York City."
The Beastie Boys, Public Enemy and Murphy's Law perform Wednesday at
Stabler Arena, Bethlehem. The show begins at 7 p.m. Tickets are
available at Ticketron and the usual area outlets. For information,
Morning Call (4 April 1987) - Carrie Stetler:
He calls himself a "non-stop rhythm rock poetry sayer," but you can
call him Chuck D. Chuck. The lead vocalist of the rap group Public
Enemy, has one of more eloquent voices in hip-hop at the moment, and
though he's outspoken about a lot of things, he refuses to reveal his
real last name.
Public Enemy, which will open for the Beastie Boys Wednesday night at
Stabler Arena, Bethlehem, extrapolates not only about themselves (the
favorite subject of most rappers), but about political and social
issues as well. Comprised of Chuck D., his sidekick Flaver Flave, and
DJ Terminator X., Public Enemy tries to promote pride and
self-awareness within the black community.
"A lot of our lyrics try to teach pride to black kids across America,
try to get them to learn about their history and make them aware of
things that go on which affect them. We have a lyric sheet with our
album to get our message of positivity across," Chuck D. says.
On Public Enemy's Def Jam album, "Yo! Bum Rush The Show," produced by
Rick Rubin (who's credits include Run-D.M.C. and the Beastie Boys),
the group also raps about more mundane topics, such as their cars,
their mouths, their friends and their turntables.
The music which backs their raps is minimal and almost avant-garde by
hip-hop standards. They dub their voices over a variety of sounds:
heavy breathing, funk bass lines, heavy metal guitar, and occasionaly,
a noise that sounds like a dentist drill. The effect is chaotic, witty
Manhattan natives Chuck D. and his crew started out DJ-ing rap radio
shows five years ago. "When we first started there weren't enough rap
records around to play so we made some tapes of our own and they got
more of a response then the records," says Chuck D.
Rick Rubin enjoyed the tapes so much that he kept bugging Public Enemy
to do an album, but they didn't want to get in to the record business
because they thought it was "cut-throat." A lot of rappers had already
been disillusioned with the Sugar Hill label (the Motown of rap), but
Rubin and many others were so persistent that finally, Chuck D.
relented and made the record.
The group chose the name Public Enemy because they believe that many
people find rap music threatening. "We're young, we're black, we're
loud and we're proud," says Chuck D. "And of course that's going to
pose a threat - especially to white America. Whenever anyone speaks
out against a repressive system, it's going to be threatening. I don't
mean to threaten anyone but a lot of rap is on the aggressive end.
It's an aggressive form - it's like playing basketball."
The Beastie Boys, Public Enemy and Murphy's Law perform at 7 p.m.
Wednesday at Stabler Arena, Lehigh University, Bethlehem. Tickets are
available at Ticketron and the usual area outlets. For information,