Ok, I have a bit of an embarrassing confession. I have loved Paul's Boutique
since college. My brother had Licensed to Ill
and I thought they were fine, but wasn't interested in being a fan of a novelty group (Weird Al already kept that aspect occupied). I go off to college and all of these friends of mine have Paul's Boutique
and would play it. I always enjoyed listening to the album and always intended to buy it but circumstances never seemed to lead to my actually acquiring a copy. So, before listening to the album now, I can't claim that much familiarity with the collection other than the three songs listed in the breakdown at the bottom because of the passivity of my previous listens.
As I read over the making of the album, I feel that it is important to add a bit of credit. The Beasties decided to ask the Dust Brothers to create the beats/samples for which the guys would rap over. It would seem that the Dust Brothers had been working on an “instrumental” album and many tracks from that album were used with nearly no changes other than the Beastie Boys rapping over them. Thus, the great majority of praise about the music behind the rapping belongs with the Dust Brothers (who would later work with Beck on Odelay
). I feel this credit must be provided in my review because a HUGE reason why I enjoy Paul's Boutique
is based on the backing track and not the rapping, so much. People frequently point to this album as the last great product of hip-hop before sampling clearance became much more difficult and costly to do. The breadth of source material and how well the different parts fit so well together is a fantastic feat to capture.
Where License to Ill
came across as a group of white teens doing silly raps over metal guitars, Paul's Boutique
presents these same three guys as earnest in their rap ambitions. Much of the metal samples are gone and the music sampled instead touches on iconic funk, soul, and R&B. The Beasties don't drop the humor at all, the subjects in which they demonstrate their wit and humor is different here, though. It would seem that the public was willing to embrace the Beastie Boys when they thought the guys were poking fun at rap (or, not taking rap “seriously”) but left once Paul's Boutique
came out. “Hey Ladies” didn't evoke enough ridicule or novelty, so the group was painted with a brush that they had flamed out. When the truth seems to be that the guys were just too early to being white guys who are credibly labeled as rappers.
Songs I Knew I Liked: “Shake Your Rump,” “Hey Ladies,” and “Shadrach”
Songs I Now Like: “Egg Man,” “The Sounds of Science,” and “B-Boy Bouillabaisse”
Songs I Don't Want to Ever Hear Again: None