The recent release of Beastie Boys Story gives viewers a rare access to the group’s history and journey. Despite forming in the late 1970s, their unique blend of genres continues to shape and influence artists today.
Who are Beastie Boys?
Beastie Boys are known as one of the most important, pioneering hip-hop groups, originating in New York in the 1980s. The group began in the late 70s/early 80s when Adam Yauch (known as MCA) met Michael Diamond (Mike D) at a punk concert and decided to start a punk band. They then recruited their third member, Adam Horowitz (Ad-Rock). The trio became increasingly interested in the budding hip-hop scene in New York, hence they formed Beastie Boys. Their music and sound are incredibly influential for modern day rappers and musicians as they revolutionised music production and genre.
As soon as I found out this documentary was on Apple TV, I knew I had to sign up to watch it. Beastie Boys were an important group in my life and I wanted to know more, especially after the release of their tell-all book that was released a few years ago. Initially, I found it intriguing that this documentary was live-action, meaning recorded material was interweaved with live elements where bandmembers would interact with the audience.
The documentary was entertaining and you don’t need to be a fan of their music to enjoy it. The energy, visuals, quick humour and close environment was perfect. It was entertaining and fast-paced, to the point where you’re almost begging for it to not stop.
Not a typical music documentary
The director, Spike Lee, was considerate of modern day audiences who have seen a million music documentaries. As an audience, we are sick and tired of the same format where there are some emotional parts and some videos from the band’s “good ole’ days”. There was none of that here. It was as wacky and brilliant as Beastie Boys because it had their mark and personalities imprinted on it, which is what we needed.
As wacky and Beastie Boys-esque this documentary is, it’s also chronological and ordered. So, it was like Ad-Rock and Mike D took us by the hand and allowed us to journey across time with them to fully understand the origins of their band. They didn’t leave anything out. They graciously addressed the mistakes they made during the height of their career and there wasn’t any sugar-coating.
Just pure B-Boy transparency.
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Watching this documentary immersed me in their world and painted the most wonderful picture of what it might have felt like to be a Beastie Boy during the 80s and 90s. I felt like I was there and I was part of their journey. They integrated the digital alongside their charismatic personalities incredibly well. It was like reconnecting with old friends, catching up on all the weird, inappropriate, sad and happy things that have happened throughout the years.
The live-action element completely got rid of the boundary between celebrity and audience. Lee really made sure to demonstrate that Beastie Boys are ultra-famous and all, but deep down they’re just like us and they’re here to share their story. Beastie Boys were never about the Hollywood sell-out gang; they’re just like you and me.
They effectively let us into the band and took us through the rollercoaster of a career they had.
How it made me feel as a fan
As a long-time fan this was a touching watch. It felt like a nice come-down from the Beastie wackiness. It was also a warming tribute to their third member, Yauch, who unfortunately passed away. Whilst watching this documentary, you really get a feel of their friendship and love for each other. They were like brothers and they had the strongest foundation to become the hip-hop legends they are today.
It was heart breaking to see them talk about the sheer genius of a friend they had. It was a great reminder of the contribution Yauch made to the world through his philanthropic efforts and his musicianship. Hence, the highlight of this entire documentary for me would be when it ended and So What’cha Want blasted through my headphones. Without intending to, I started tearing up as they presented pictures from their past.
On behalf of all fans, I would like to thank and honour Yauch for being a great inspiration for all of us. Without him, the world wouldn’t have had Beastie Boys and their influence over hip-hop culture.
Thank you to the three greats for letting us in.
Beastie Boys Story is available to watch now on Apple TV.