Year Released: 1985

Notable Songs: “Hold It Now, Hit It”, “Paul Revere”, “The New Style”, You Gotta Fight For Your Right (To Party!)”, “Brass Monkey”, “No Sleep Til’ Brooklyn”, “Girls”

Album MVP: “No Sleep Til Brooklyn”

Why I Loved It: To refute how significant this Beastie Boys debut studio effort was to the music and culture of hip hop is unequivocally  poppycock. Where you think the Beastie Boys stand in the realm of all-time great rappers or rap crews is one thing, but their influence to the genre is simply undeniable. I mean literally, even if you loathe their music (translation: you’re a hater) you can’t reject their standing. However, effect on the culture by itself doesn’t make for an amazing album. What saved the Beastie Boys and more specifically Licensed to Ill from eventually falling into anonymity was their originality, something too many hip hop artists lacked back then and almost all day today. No one sounded like the Beastie Boys and many of the lyrics and tracks on this album made everyone want to party. For teenagers and young adults there’s worse things in the world, #amirite?   “No Sleep til Brooklyn” was some of the hardest shit and sickest beats I’ve ever heard in my life.  I’m giving so much love to the Beasties and they deserve it, but major props to Rick Rubin and the label he co-founded with Russell Simmons, Def Jam for this musical gift.  This was my first real test of rap and metal fused into one and I’ll never stop loving this classic.  Oddly enough, I didn’t remain a huge Beastie Boys fan.  In my opinion, one that I’m sure isn’t shared by the majority, they later became more serious-minded with their music and I think their music suffered. Again, I’m probably in the minority with that thought.

Regardless, License to Ill is a must-have for any music collection and it’s not only one of the best rap albums of the 80’s, it’s one of the best of all-time, period.

Commercial Success:  Before 1987, saying few rap acts ever hit the mainstream so successfully with their debut album would be doing the Beastie Boys a disservice, because the reality is NO ONE ever did like the three white boys from New York City.  Licensed to Ill became the first rap album ever, debut or not to reach the top of the Billboard Top 200. License to Ill ended Bon Jovi’s Slippery When Wet seven week run at the top of the charts and parked themselves at number-one for seven weeks of their own before finally getting supplanted by U2’s The Joshua Tree. It’s sold an astonishing 10 million copies in the United States alone. Seven tracks from this historic album were released as singles, with “You Gotta Fight For Your Right (to Party!)” being the most commercially successful, hitting number-seven on the Billboard Hot 100 and finishing’ 1987 on the year-end chart at No. 98.  “Brass Monkey” also charted on mainstream Billboard Hot 100, peaking at No. 48. “The New Style” got as high as No. 20 on the Billboard U.S. Dance Music chart while both “Hold it Now” and “Paul Revere” reached No. 41 on the same chart.  “No Sleep til Brooklyn” didn’t chart in American but reached No. 14 in the U.K.

Fun Facts: From “Yes Licensed To Ill was their debut record, but a year earlier the Beastie Boys were touring with Madonna, and there’s no way that slot would be filled by a no-name-punk-rap-group. Still, you might be thinking that it’s not quite a fitting match-up. And you’re right, it didn’t work. Madonna fans were bewildered by the pairing, and the trio spent most of the tour being heckled and booed off stage. Not that they cared, especially Ad-Rock who made out with Madonna in a backstage bathroom.

Licensed To Ill wasn’t the title they had in mind. In fact, the working album name was Don’t Be A Faggot. Needless to say, attitudes around homophobia were a lot different in the 80’s, and so were the Beastie Boys. Their outlooks changed over time, from converting to buddhism and producing protest and gender equality songs. With pressure from the record label, the band eventually landed on Licence To Ill – which was a pun on the James Bond film, License To Kill.”


 100.  Van Halen – OU812 

99. Stevie Wonder – In Squared Circle

98. Taylor Dayne – Can’t Fight Fate

97. Kool & The Gang – Emergency 

96. Stevie B – In My Eyes 

95. Keith Sweat – Make It Last Forever 

94. Michael Bolton – Soul Provider 

93. Go Go’s – Beauty & The Beast 

92. LL Cool J – Bigger And Deffer (Bad) 

91. Twisted Sister – Stay Hungry 

90. Def Leppard – Hysteria

89. New Edition – Heartbreak

88. Don Henley – Building A Perfect Beast

87. Beverly Hills Cop – Movie Soundtrack

86. Culture Club – Kissing To Be Clever 

85. Rolling Stones – Tattoo You

84. Asia – Asia 

83. Tiffany – Tiffany 

82. Lionel Richie – Dancing on the Ceiling

81. Barbara Streisand – Guilty 

80. Phil Collins – …But Seriously 

79. Air Supply – The One That You Love

78. J. Geils Band – Freeze Frame

77. Duran Duran – Rio 

76. Billy Ocean – Suddenly 

75. Run DMC – Raising Hell

74. Pat Benatar – Crimes of Passion

73. John Cougar – American Fool

72. Huey Lewis and The News – Picture This

71. Top Gun – Movie Soundtrack

70. Steve Winwood – Back In The High Life

69. Air Supply – Lost In Love

68. LL Cool J – Radio

67. Journey – Frontiers 

66. Styxx – Paradise Theater

65. Madonna – Like A Prayer

64. Eric B & Rakim – Paid In Full 

63. Tears for Fears – Songs From The Big Chair

62. Tina Turner – Private Dancer 

61. Steve Nicks – Bella Donna

60. U2 – The Joshua Tree

59. Bon Jovi – New Jersey 

58. Huey Lewis and the News – Fore!

57. Janet Jackson – Rhythm Nation 1814

56. Prince – 1999

55. ZZ Top – Eliminator 

54. Survivor – Vital Signs

53. New Edition – New Edition 

52. Dirty Dancing – Movie Soundtrack

51. Foreigner – 4

50. Public Enemy – It Takes A Nation Of Millions To Hold Us Back

49. Lionel Richie – Lionel Richie 

48. Men at Work – Business As Usual

47. Run DMC – Run DMC

46. Richard Marx – Richard Marx

45. Paula Abdul – Forever Your Girl 

44. Rocky IV – Movie Soundtrack 

43. Tom Petty – Full Moon River 

42. Whitney Houston – Whitney 

41, REO Speedwagon – Hi Infidelity 

40. Christopher Cross – Christopher Cross

39. Culture Club – Colour By Numbers 

38. Chicago – Chicago 17

37. Bryan Adams – Reckless

36. Bon Jovi – Slippery When Wet

35. Heart – Heart 

34. Def Leppard – Pyromania 

33. Toto -Toto IV

32. The Police – Ghost In the Machine 

31. Madonna – Madonna

30. New Kids On The Block – Hangin’ Tough

29. Hall and Oates – H20

28. Don Henley – The End Of The Innocence

27. The Police – Synchronicity 

26. Phil Collins – No Jacket Required