A lively and accessible account of the Beasties’ decadeslong career, told by the Boys themselves and a coterie of friends and admirers.
The long-awaited first book from co-authors and fellow Beastie Boys Diamond and Horovitz is a fan’s dream. The narrative details the group’s meteoric rise to fame, from their humble beginnings in the New York hardcore scene of the early 1980s, to their first tours (opening for the likes of Madonna and Run-DMC), and on through the many permutations of their music and persona as they held on to their position as standard-bearers in the worlds of music, fashion, and pop culture throughout the ’80s, ’90s, and 2000s. Diamond and Horovitz each wrote roughly half of the chapters, and their respective personalities shine through in their writing styles; they play off each other the way comedy teams do, much as they did when they were on the mic. These chapters alternate with insightful essays from heavy hitters like Luc Sante, Jonathan Lethem, and others as well as goofy rap album–style interludes—e.g., a comprehensive review of all of their music videos by comedienne Amy Poehler. The book is often laugh-out-loud funny, especially when Horovitz narrates, and Diamond’s comparatively dry sense of humor makes him the perfect foil. The fact that third Beastie Adam Yauch (1964-2012) wasn’t around to contribute lends the book an elegiac tone that bubbles just under the surface of the narrative. Superfans may long for more details from the later years of the group's career; the amount of space devoted to the band’s formative years is huge. There are, however, song-by-song details for all of their records, which will delight the faithful, and the aforementioned “interludes” fill out the overall picture quite well.
Beastie Boys fans will devour this book, as will anyone interested in the early days of hip-hop, the art/music/street life of New York City in the 1980s, and the alternative-nation zeitgeist of the ’90s.