Wednesday, December 15, 2021

Beastie Boys - Check Your Head 2xLP

Beastie Boys - Check Your Head 2xLP

Capitol / Grand Royal (2009, Reissue)

Every Wednesday, in honor of Ed Lover Dance Day from Yo! MTV Raps, I take a break from rock and roll to write a little bit about hip hop. In the late 80s and early 90s hip hop ruled my musical life. During this often called 'Golden Era' I discovered so much incredible music. As I am slowly replacing the CDs I've had for twenty-five plus years with vinyl copies, I'm going to talk about some albums that had a really important impact on me during some very formative years. 

In 1992 my interest in Yo! MTV Raps and hip hop in general was at a fever pitch. Around this time the video for the Beastie Boys song "Pass The Mic" started being played. Prior to seeing this video, the only real experience I had with the Beasties was a bunch of people in my grammar school really liking License To Ill and me being pretty uninterested in what felt like a bunch of meathead crap, even back then when I was a little kid. Paul's Boutique flew completely under my radar and I didn't even know it existed back then. 

 To be confronted by a band that I had pretty much written off as mainstream nonsense putting out a song that was really infectious wasn't something I was expecting. I didn't totally trust it, so I bought the cassette single of "Pass The Mic" rather than committing to the whole album. It wasn't until the second single, "So What'cha Want" came out that I decided to pick up the full album. How could I not? To This day "So What'cha Want" is my favorite Beasties song and it hit me like a ton of bricks the first time I saw the video for it. I finally picked up Check Your Head and gave it a listen. To say I was kind of confused would be an understatement. 

I had no idea that the Beastie Boys had ever done anything but wrap. To have an album in front of me where they were rapping, playing instrumentals, delving into funk and even some punk rock was completely unexpected. I didn't know what to make of it and if I'm being honest, at times I still don't. I love all of the hip hop songs on this record. All of them, they're essentially flawless. A lot of the other stuff is hit and miss for me and because of that, the album feels a little too long and bloated at times. I get that the eclectic nature of this record is what drew in a lot of people and while I completely respect their musicianship and vision, it doesn't all connect with me. It never really did. 

 But the highs on this record are so ridiculously high that you just can't call this record anything but a success. I've been listening to it for nearly thirty years and it always still manages to surprise me. You could list off hit after hit sliding down the track list on this bad boy and everything has aged really well. Not having this on vinyl was a pretty big hole in my collection and for whatever reason this record seems to go in and out of print with surprising regularity. It popped up as being in stock one day and into the collection it went.

Beastie Boys - Check Your Head:

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