In 1988, my older sister Beth was my primary influence when it came to music.1 It was Beth who introduced me to the Fat Boys, and around the same time, she introduced me to The Beastie Boys. She must have been a sucker for groups with the word “boys” in their name, I guess.
Anyway, the Beastie Boys were like nothing I had ever heard before. Mostly because, their debut album, Licensed to Ill was absolutely filthy. The crude lyrics about girls, partying, and everything in between went right over my head.2 But it was the mixture of heavy metal guitars and rap that hooked me. Whether it was “No Sleep till Brooklyn” or “Brass Monkey”, I was into it.
I didn’t become the world’s biggest Beastie Boys fan, I doubt I would even put them in my top 25, but as I got older, and they released more albums, I truly began to appreciate them for their talent. And they were deceptively talented.
By the time 2007 rolled around, bringing with it The Mix Up, I had no idea what to expect from them. There was no Apple Music back then, or Spotify. I couldn’t sample it without buying it, so I got it through other means. And once I did, I went right out and bought it.
The Mix Up, like Licensed to Ill 20 years before, was like nothing I had ever heard. A strictly instrumental record, there are no lyrics to blush over, there’s just music. And it’s good music.
At the time, I was going to college3, studying graphic design. I found that I worked best when I wasn’t listening to music with words. I became an afficionado of the smooth jazz station on Sirius/XM, and I would even dabble in a bit of classical, if it wasn’t too late at night4.
But this album was a game changer. Hip hop beats infused with funk infused with jazz, it was a sonic gumbo that inspired creativity and maybe a few embarrasing dances while sitting at my desk fine tuning a homework assignment or a project for a client.5
So if you’re not one for crude lyrics and you want a good beat you can dance to, check out The Mix Up. You won’t be disappointed.
And this kid in my fifth grade class named Dave. He gave me a duplicated copy of DJ Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince’s He’s the DJ, I’m the Rapper on cassette, and I wore that thing out.
It took me over ten years to realize that the line about his mom throwing away his magazine was about pornography. What can I say, I was naive. And I was 11.
Yes, I was one of those weird adult learners who was sitting next to kids just out of high school. But I assure you, I wasn’t a creep. And there were a lot more people my age there than I expected.
I don’t care who you are, if your’re listening to Brahms or Beethoven after 8pm, you’re gonna fall asleep.
Ok, more than a few.