Formed 1981, New York City, New York , the Beastie Boys were the first white group to offer a successful sendup of rap. After emerging from New Yorkís hardcore punk underground of the early Eighties, the group crossed over into the mainstream with its first full-length album, Licensed to Ill (#1, 1986). Featuring "(You Gotta) Fight for Your Right (to Party)" (#7), the album sold 720,000 copies in six weeks, becoming Columbiaís fastest-selling debut ever. By the late Eighties, the Beastie Boysí sound had begun to mature, expanding into spaced-out funk and psychedelia, yet retaining its adolescent charm and hit-making sensibility.
At 14, Adam Horovitz, son of playwright Israel Horovitz, joined the hardcore band the Young and the Useless. His friends Adam Yauch and Mike Diamond, children of wealthy New York families, had formed the four-piece hardcore band the Beastie Boys along with Kate Schellenbach, later of the group Luscious Jackson, and John Berry, later of Thwig. By 1982 the Beasties had released a seven-inch EP, Polly Wog Stew, on the independent label Rat Cage. Horovitz joined shortly thereafter.
The Beastiesí first attempt at rap came with the 1983 11-inch spoof, "Cookie Puss," based on a crank call they made to the Carvel ice cream company. It wasnít until the trio teamed up with friend Rick Rubin -- who would start the Def Jam label in his college dorm room the next year -- that the Beasties began taking rap seriously. The marriage was perfect, producer Rubin working into the groupís bratty raps samples with appropriately white, upper-middle-class references: Led Zeppelin, heavy metal guitar, and the theme to TVís Mr. Ed.
With thumbs-up from Rubinís then-partner, Russell Simmons, head of Rush Productions and manager of Run-D.M.C., the Beasties were signed to Def Jam in 1985. That same year they appeared in one of rapís first movies, Krush Groove, with the single "Sheís on It." They also opened for Madonnaís Virgin Tour, during which they shouted obscenities to the audiences and got booed in return. In 1986 the trio toured with Run-D.M.C.ís violence-plagued Raisiní Hell Tour.
Nineteen-eighty-seven was a watershed year for the Beasties. The success of "Fight for Your Right" led to the trio headlining their own tour, which was plagued by lawsuits, arrests, blame for violence and vandalism, and accusations of sexism and obscenity. In 1988 they appeared in Run-D.M.C.ís movie, Tougher Than Leather.
Partially due to a bitter legal dispute with Rubin, three years elapsed before the release of their second album, Paulís Boutique (#14, 1989), on Capitol. The band made an artistic leap on the record, turning their obnoxious, white, bourgeois take on rap into a funky, album-long sound collage. The record produced the Top Forty song "Hey Ladies" (#36).
It would be another three years until their third LP, Check Your Head (#10, 1992), an eclectic album on which the Beastie Boys picked up their instruments again, was released on their own Capitol-distributed Grand Royal label. The record broke the Top Ten in a week, even though it jumps stylistically from funk to rap to hardcore. In 1994 the Beasties released a compilation of their early hardcore singles and EPs as Some Old Bullshit, followed by a new album, Ill Communication (#1, 1994), which continued in the eclectic (and successful) vein of Check Your Head and debuted at the top of the albums chart. That summer, the Beastie Boys joined Smashing Pumpkins, the Breeders, George Clinton, and other big names for Lollapalooza Ď94 (Luscious Jackson played on the second stage).