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Production Credits:

Rhymin' and Stealin' Click for Lyrics

First Appearance: Licensed to Ill LP 1986
Written by: Beastie Boys/Rick Rubin
Performed by: Beastie Boys
Production Notes: Produced by Rick Rubin, co-produced by Beastie Boys. Engineered by Steve Ett, mastered by Howie Weinberg. Originally released under Def Jam Recordings, a division of CBS/Columbia Records.

Behind the Beats and Lyrics...

Samples

  • "When the Levee Breaks" by Led Zeppelin from the album Led Zeppelin IV (1971)
  • "Sweet Leaf" by Black Sabbath from the album Master of Reality (1971)
  • "I Fought the Law" by The Clash from the EP The Cost of Living (1979)

References

  • The HMS Bounty - a vessel whose crew mutinied in 1789
  • Long John Silver - a fictional pirate
  • The seven seas - all the oceans of the world (the North and South Atlantic, the North and South Pacific, the Indian, the Arctic, and the Antarctic)
  • Pieces of eight - obsolete Spanish silver dollars
  • The Three Musketeers - a historical novel by Alexandre Dumas
  • Captain Bligh - the captain of the HMS Bounty
  • AWOL - military acronym for "absent without leave"
  • Ali Baba & the Forty Thieves - fictional literary characters from the classic series of Arabic stories The Arabian Nights
  • Brass Monkey - an alcoholic drink comprised of rum, vodka, and orange juice; also referenced in "Slow Ride" and "Brass Monkey"
  • Blackbeard - a notorious English privateer and pirate
  • Moby Dick - a literary white whale
  • Betty Crocker - General Mills' trademark symbol of good cooking
  • Colonel Sanders - founder of Kentucky Fried Chicken franchise
  • Davy Jones' Locker - the bottom of the ocean, especially as the grave of the drowned

Sample & Reference Breakdown

  • Main drum beat - a sample from "When the Levee Breaks" by Led Zeppelin
  • Main guitar riff - a sample from "Sweet Leaf" by Black Sabbath
  • "Because mutiny on the Bounty's what we're all about" - refers to the HMS Bounty
  • "No soft sucker with a parrot on his shoulder" - refers to the fictional pirate Long John Silver character from Robert Louis Stevenson's novel Treasure Island
  • "Terrorizing suckers on the seven seas" - refers to the seven seas and oceans of the world
  • "We got sixteen men on a dead man's chest" - refers to a passage in Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson ("Fifteen men on the dead man's chest, yo ho ho and a bottle of rum!")
  • "One for all and all for one" and "All for one and one for all" - refers to the Three Musketeers' motto of "All for one and one for all"
  • "Friggin' in the riggin' and cuttin' your throat" - refers to an old sailor's sea song called "Friggin' in the Riggin" (also the title of a Sex Pistols song) and a reference to the nickname of "cut throats" for pirates
  • "I fought the law" - a sample from "I Fought the Law" by The Clash; this song was originally written and recorded by Bobby Fuller
  • "Blackbeard's weak, Moby Dick's on the tip" - refers to a notorious English pirate and the title character (a white whale) in Herman Melville's classic novel Moby Dick

Commentary:

Beastie Boys

"On Licensed to Ill, we didn't even have any samplers. So the stuff that's looped, we actually made tape loops. We'd record the 'When the Levee Breaks' beat onto a quarter-inch tape, and then we'd make a loop and that tape would spinning around the room, dangling on mic stands, going around in a big loop. And then, in order to layer that with something else, we'd have to actually sync it up, physically." - Adam Yauch, excerpted from The Skills to Pay the Bills (2005) by Alan Light

Press

"...the chanted raps are short, sharp, full of silly non sequiturs" - Newsweek, 1987

"[Beastie Boys] yowl about Betty Crocker and Colonel Sanders over samples of Led Zeppelin and Black Sabbath" - Spin, July 1994

"...cartoonish gangster visions unveiled" - Goldmine, May 1996

"...uses a mixture of deck techniques and drum machine programming to turn a sequence of sampled John Bonham drums into a slow, loping, lazy hip-hop rhythm" - excerpted from Rhyming & Stealing: A History of the Beastie Boys by Angus Batey, 1998

"A massive slab of John Bonham's drumming is suffixed with grunting guitar riffs and sly, piss-taking raps. The track goes onto to play jocular homage to the Three Musketeers, The Clash, the Sex Pistols and The Arabian Nights. This time the Beastie Boys critique hip-hop's sonic pilfering of musical source material and base their imagery around pirates. It's a rich metaphor for them to explore, as it allows them to merge their cartoon violence with a veritable treasure chest of easily assimilable references their audience can latch on to" - excerpted from Rhyming & Stealing: A History of the Beastie Boys by Angus Batey, 1998

"John Bonham's drum break from Led Zeppelin's 'When the Levee Breaks' was almost a hip-hop cliche. But when the Beasties used it on 'Rhymin' & Stealin'', it was seen as a homage to the drugged-up, groupie abusing hard-rock lifestyle that Led Zeppelin personified thru the 1970's" - excerpted from Rhyming & Stealing: A History of the Beastie Boys by Angus Batey, 1998

 

Released Versions:

Rhymin' and Stealin'
Rhymin' and Stealin' (Demo)
Rhymin' and Stealin' (Instrumental)
Rhymin' and Stealin' (Live)

Live:

Performed in 78 known Concerts.

First known Performance:
26-Dec-1986 : Ritz, The, New York, NY, United States

Last known Performance:
08-Mar-2008 : Centro Dinamico Pegaso, Mexico City, Mexico

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