Beastie Boys – “Paul’s Boutique”

“I’m so rope, they call me Mr. Roper”

Arguably one of the best Rap LPs, and I emphasize LP, because there is no other way to own this piece of history. With its three panel, gatefold art work,  the packaging for this masterpiece sets the mood for what’s to come.  People can talk about Biggie, Tupac, or Lil Wayne being the Kings of Rap/Hip Hop, and how they are all pioneers who will go down in history.  However,  any of the above mentioned artists would be the first to agree that without Paul’s Boutique, Hip Hop would not the same today.

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After the success of Licensed to Ill, the Beasties parted ways with Def Jam and ended their relationship with Rick Rubin to sign with Capitol Records. The group re-entered the studio in 1988, emerging with a second album, Paul’s Boutique. Produced by the Dust Brothers and Matt Dike, this extremely sample-heavy opus is still considered one of the strongest works by the Beastie Boys.  It is also considered a landmark in hip hop recordings due to its large array of samples and intricate use of multi-layering.

The album was released in 1989 by Capitol Records, after the falling out between the group and Def Jam. It failed to match the sales of Licensed to Ill, reaching No.14 on the Billboard 200 and No.10 on the Billboard R&B charts. The lead single, “Hey Ladies”, reached No.36 on the Billboard 100 and No.10 on the R&B charts. Rolling Stone would describe the album as “the Pet Sounds/The Dark Side of the Moon of hip hop.”

Paul’s Boutique was initially considered a commercial failure by the executives at Capitol Records, as its sales did not match that of the group’s previous record, Licensed to Ill, and the label eventually decided to stop promoting the album. The album’s popularity continued to grow, however, and it has since been touted as a breakthrough achievement for the Beastie Boys. Highly varied lyrically and sonically, Paul’s Boutique secured the Beastie Boys’ place as critical favorites in the hip-hop genre.

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Contrary to popular belief, most of the sampling for Paul’s Boutique was cleared, but at dramatically lower costs compared to today’s prevailing rates. A 2005 article about The Dust Brothers reveals that “most of the samples used on Paul’s Boutique were cleared, easily and affordably, something that would be ‘unthinkable’ in today’s litigious music industry.” Mario “Mario C” Caldato, Jr., engineer on the album, later said in an interview that “after Paul’s Boutique, we realized we had spent a lot of money in the studio. We had spent about a $1/4 million in rights and licensing for samples. “This type of sampling was only possible before Grand Upright Music, Ltd. v. Warner Bros. Records Inc., the landmark lawsuit against Biz Markie by Gilbert O’Sullivan, which changed the process and future of hip hop sampling.

The Dust Brothers had a bunch of music together before the B-Boys arrived to work with them. As a result, a lot of the tracks come from songs they’d planned to release to clubs as instrumentals – “Shake Your Rump,” for example. They’d put together some beats, basslines and guitar lines, all these loops together, and they were quite surprised when we said we wanted to rhyme on it, because they thought it was too dense. They offered to strip it down to just beats, but we wanted all of that stuff on there. I think half of the tracks were written when we got there, and the other half we wrote together.”

All of the songs for Paul’s Boutique were recorded in Matt Dike’s living room in Los Angeles, with the exception of “Hello Brooklyn”. The fifth part of the album’s finale suite “B-Boy Bouillabaisse” was recorded at the apartment building of the Beastie Boy-member Adam Yauch, aka MCA, in Koreatown, Los Angeles. The location of recording was credited in the album liner notes as the Opium Den.  The recordings for Paul’s Boutique were later mixed by the Dust Brothers at Record Plant Studios in Los Angeles.

There is no other way to describe this LP but as a  must have classic. Pick it up today online or at your local record shop, and if they don’t have it …………….well maybe your buying your wax at the wrong place.