I grew up listening to the Beastie Boys in high school and college; although I must admit that at this point in my life I absolutely dread when I hear “Fight For Your Right”; however, I do remember it as a pivotal song in my early adolescent years that contributed to the legitimacy of Rap as a form of artistic expression.
With that said I still find myself at a crossroads with regard to the recent announcement that the Beastie Boys will be inducted into the 2011 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. First of all, clearly the hall of fame should be “The History of Music Hall of Fame” and not Rock and Roll. Clearly the Beastie Boys are not a rock act, however they may have contributed some influences to the evolution of todays rock music, but only slightly if so. Actually, if I were to think of a contemporary band that has incorporated both Rap and Rock and would be more deserving of this award I would consider bands like Rage Against the Machine or perhaps 311; clearly these bands have played a larger part in influencing todays Rock/Rap style, no? Sorry, but the Aerosmith / Run DMC doesn’t count folks, actually that is probably the tipping point for any respect that I had for either of those groups (makes me cringe just thinking back, yuck!). Yes, Kerry King of Slayer did play guitars on “Fight For Your Right” and “No Sleep Til’ Brooklyn” but I think he has contributed more to Rock than the album Licensed to Ill.
What the Beastie Boys DID do was change the social perception of Rap; Rap was no longer restricted or defined to be performed by African-American artists. White kids (and further, Jewish White kids!) could participate as well, and be taken seriously. Although I’m not sure how much of the African-American community ran out to by anything they have released. The Beastie Boys clearly expanded the diversity of that form music as a whole. Acts like Vanilla Ice, may have inspired some at the time, but as we all know who lived in the 80’s, that reality came crashing down in full form and very little respect was earned in the end.
When the Beastie Boys originally entered the scene with the realease of Licensed To Ill (1986) I thought they were more of a goof act that was attempting to disassemble the Rap stereotype, intentionally or not. Clearly after the commercial success of the Licensed To Ill and the release of Pauls Boutique (1989) they were for real, and clearly were intent on making their mark in music business. Pauls Boutique, although not the strongest follow up album initially, has become a landmark album for the band and is probably the most popular by hardcore fans if asked today.
Check Your Head (1992) was a much stronger album and in my opinion did much in revitalizing the band after the lukewarm reception that Pauls Boutique initially received. Subsequent albums have been successful, actually every one going Platinum or multi-Platinum in the US. Although they have sold millions of albums and touched the lives of many, perhaps inspiring some successful bands today, I still don’t feel that inducting them into the Hall of Fame is still deserving, if it is, ahem, a true “Rock and Roll” hall of fame. Actually, we know that it isn’t and perhaps my blog entry should be more about bashing the Hall of Fame rather than the Beastie Boys, which is not my intention.
It has been noted that the RR Hall of Fame inductions are kind of a joke; they are not basing their decisions solely on those groups who influenced bands of today, rather on bands that will draw attention (and a crowd at the ceremony) and ultimately increase funding towards its expansion and growth. There are so many groups from the 40’s, 50’s, and 60’s that paved the road for todays music scene and will never be recognized; the Canadian band Rush (third all time in album sales under The Beatles and The Rolling Stones!) are not worthy of being inducted this year, but the Beastie Boys are? Huh? It just doesn’t smell right in my opinion. “Popularity” is what reigns supreme in the induction process and not bands that no longer draw a crowd or are no longer household names. It’s sad but true, and perhaps the the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame has seen its sustainability and longevity in having to take the low road and cater to popular music of today rather than yester year. Granted they have inducted some old timers, but its often rare. Oh, don’t forget that LL Cool J is being inducted as well, great.
What are your thoughts about the induction process?