The Beastie Boys will release a retrospective compilation in late 1999 that will look back at their nearly 20-year career as pioneers of a now-popular hybrid of punk and hip-hop, according to their official spokesperson.
The project is expected to present an overview of the New York trio, who've evolved from a hardcore punk group to a loudmouth rap-metal combo to a socially conscious old-school rap act that has helped transform the face of rap and rock.
Although no track listing is available for the set, the collection will draw from the band's career, which includes five studio albums and multiple EPs and singles.
The CD has no release date yet. In addition to the numerous studio hits the Beasties have recorded, they're expected to release nonalbum versions of some of their more popular songs. Among them could be such hits as 1994's "Root Down" (RealAudio of live version) or remixes of such recent popular tracks as "Body Movin' "(RealAudio excerpt of Fatboy Slim remix).
The compilation will be preceded by the launch of a series of 12-inch hip-hop remix albums from the band's Grand Royal label. The new series, which had the working title of The Blow-Up Factor, will instead bow as the Scientists of Sound, according to Beastie Boys publicist Steve Martin. "It will be a 12-inch-only compilation of several hard-to-find, previously unreleased or import-only remixes of tracks [from the group's 1998 album, Hello Nasty]," he said.
The announcement of the two projects comes just a month after the trio revealed they'd be taking an extended break from touring and recording. Co-founder MCA (born Adam Yauch), 33, said the group (which also includes Mike D and Ad-Rock) would take a break from the road following its appearance at the June 13 Tibetan Freedom Concert in East Troy, Wis., which featured sets from Pearl Jam singer Eddie Vedder, rappers the Roots and old school hip-hop legends Run-DMC.
"This is the last show that we're gonna do for a while," Yauch said during a Tibetan Freedom Concert '99 chat presented by SonicNet/Yahoo, adding, after the show, that the trio were "planning on taking a long break."
Scientists of Sound is an attempt to return further to the 12-inch vinyl roots of early hip-hop recordings, a source at Grand Royal said earlier this year.
"This is [the Beastie Boys'] way of introducing underground hip-hop stuff, Grand Royal style," said the label source, who requested anonymity. The pressings of the 12-inchers are expected to be unlimited, as the Beasties hope to reach an audience beyond club DJs and collectors.
"We want to blow up beyond mom-and-pop stores," the source said. "We want to get to people who are ... fans of the label and our aesthetic with something that's really geared for hip-hop kids and enthusiasts. The Beasties are one of the forefathers of what hip-hop is now, so it's natural they would do this."
The next scheduled 12-inch in the series will feature rappers Paranorm and Strictnine, a pair of unknown 20-something artists from South Bend, Ind. That EP, Mic Reaction, will be released Sept. 21; no track listing was available at press time.
"These guys just showed up in L.A., dumped out a bag of unlabeled tapes with about 100 songs they'd done over the past 11 years, and we offered them some time in [the Beastie Boys'] G Son studios," the source said.
With plenty of material to choose from, the Beastie Boys' career retrospective could be wide-ranging, given the breadth of the Brooklyn group's repertoire. Long considered the only white hip-hop act that has consistently mattered in the predominantly African-American genre, the Beastie Boys began as a hardcore punk group in 1981.
Formed by teenagers Mike Diamond (a.k.a. Mike D) and Yauch, the group, which then featured current Luscious Jackson drummer Kate Schellenbach, began playing underground punk clubs before releasing its 1992 7-inch EP, Polly Wog Stew. Adam Horovitz (a.k.a. Ad-Rock) joined the group in 1983 in time to be part of its first rap-inspired record, 1983's "Cookie Puss," a 12-inch recording of a juvenile phone prank set to hip-hop beats.
After signing with the then-fledgling Def Jam rap label in 1984, the trio had their first hit the following year with "She's on It," a single from the soundtrack to the breakdancing flick "Krush Groove." Like much of the Beasties' debut album 1986's smash Licensed to Ill "She's on It" was a nasally rapped track that sampled a classic rock tune, in this case AC/DC's "Back in Black." By the time they finished a stint opening for Madonna on her 1985 Like a Virgin tour, the Beastie Boys had already established a reputation as hard-partying, profanity-spewing, often misogynist rappers.
At the time, Licensed to Ill became the fastest-selling debut in Columbia Records' history, selling more than 750,000 copies in its first six weeks on the strength of such party anthems as "Fight for Your Right (To Party)."
The group retrenched after coming under fire for rowdy tour behavior on its Licensed to Ill world jaunt. It emerged with what is considered one of the all-time classic hip-hop albums: The psychedelic Paul's Boutique, which featured the hit single "Hey Ladies" (RealAudio excerpt), sold poorly but was a cult hit. It was followed by a pair of early '90s efforts that revived the trio's mainstream popularity.
Check Your Head (1992) mixed old-school hip-hop and punk on such hits as "Pass the Mic" and "So What'cha Want." It was followed in early 1994 with a compilation of early punk songs entitled Some Old Bullshit. Next came Ill Communication, another mixture of rap, punk and funk instrumentals, yielding the hits "Sabotage" and "Sure Shot."
After releasing the hardcore EP Aglio E Olio in 1996 and the instrumental soul-jazz collection The In Sound From Way Out! that same year, Yauch launched what has become a yearly all-star fundraising event for the displaced people of Tibet, the Tibetan Freedom Concert.
The trio released their fifth studio album, Hello Nasty, in the summer of 1998. It yielded the hits "Intergalactic" (RealAudio excerpt) and "Body Movin'."