As the news of the death of Beastie Boys member Adam Yauch begins to sink in, our minds will naturally turn to the pioneering alt-hip hop trio’s enduring legacy of music — their first LP, Licensed To Ill was released, believe it or not, 26 years ago — and their iconic visuals that cropped up in that time.
Yauch, who went by MCA in the band, eventually wound up directing several of the Beasties’ memorable music videos under his alias of Nathanial Hornblower. (His knack for filmmaking even lead him to create New York-based video production company Oscilloscope Laboratories.)
Below we highlight six of the most iconic Beastie Boys videos from their heavy catalog. Obviously we could sit here and wax from now till next week on all of their clips. But we sorted out the ones that, at the time of their respective releases, captured the imagination of music fans the world over, and became part of the cultural zeitgeist.
“(You Gotta) Fight For Your Right (To Party)” (1987). Beastie Boys rode the growing rap wave and broke into the mainstream thanks to this Top 10 hit off their debut album Licensed To Ill, the rowdy, randy music video for which went into heavy rotation on MTV. Blink and you’ll miss cameos by the trio’s producer Rick Rubin and their Def Jam labelmate at the time, LL Cool J. And watch out for those pies!
“Hey Ladies” (1989). The guys kept tongues firmly planted in cheeks for their vid for “Hey Ladies”, the lead single off the band’s critically acclaimed sophomore LP Paul’s Boutique. Disco was way-dead by the late ’80s, but that didn’t stop Mike D, MCA and Ad-Rock from cheekily paying homage to dance movie classic Saturday Night Fever in this clip.
“So What’cha Want” (1992). With a nod to sci fi/horror flick Predator — specifically, the jarring negative vision — Adam Yauch directed the video for this, the second single off Beasties’ album Check Your Head, under his Nathanial Hornblower alias. MCA spliced in clips of natural disasters to add to the chaotic effect of the clip.
“Sabotage” (1994). Here the Boys (in comically bad wigs and fake mustaches) and director Spike Jonze send up 1970s cop shows and serve up a campy clip that no doubt piqued up-and-comer Quentin Tarantino’s interest in early ’94. Look for MCA as both Sir Stewart Wallace and Nathan Wind.”Sabotage” was the first single off the New York trio’s fourth LP Ill Communication.
“Intergalactic” (1998). Nathanial Hornblower (aka Yauch) was behind the lens once again for “Intergalactic”. The video parodied cheesy Japanese sci fi films containing laughable special effects (dig that giant, menacing robot!), while the song itself, which was the first single off Hello Nasty, was a return to form for the Boys. “Intergalactic” gave them their first Top 40 hit in nearly a decade, and it went on to win the Grammy for Best Rap Performance by a Duo or Group the following year.
“Make Some Noise” (2011). A 2011 MTV VMA Video Of The Year nominee, Beastie Boys left no celeb un-cameo’d in this Adam Yauch-directed clip, which serves as a sequel to “(You Gotta) Fight For Your Right (To Party)”. Seth Rogen, Elijah Wood and Danny McBride play the boys in the epic NYC-set video that also features the likes of Will Arnett, Rainn Wilson, Jason Schwartzman, Ted Danson, Steve Buscemi, Chloe Sevigny, Kirsten Dunst, Orlando Bloom, Will Ferrell, John C. Reilly, and Jack Black. Yauch also shot a 30-minute version of the video.