The Spry Spirit of the Beastie Boys' 'Ill Communication'

25 years after the song’s release, “Sabotage” still makes fans want to throw elbows with reckless abandon and put fists to drywall.
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Beastie Boys, Ill Communication, artwork

Even 25 years after the song’s release, “Sabotage” still makes fans want to throw elbows with reckless abandon and put fists to drywall. There’s an elegance to the mania that the Beastie Boys — MCA, Ad-Rock and Mike D — spin on their rap-rock opus, Ill Communication. And “Sabotage” is the perfect example of how spry and timeless the Beasties are.

Despite driving the album to critical and cultural acclaim, “Sabotage” is not the only song worth talking about on the Beasties’ fourth album. From flute jaunts to genreless jam sessions, Ill Communication was a quintessential “something for everyone” record. That’s the magic of the album, what keeps it sounding fresh and expansive: the Beasties were speaking a universal language. By merging punk sensibilities and aesthetics with hip-hop foundations and a penchant for instrumental explorations, the Beastie Boys began to articulate a genre-bending voice that worked just as well in 1994 as it does in 2019.

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