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Every Beastie Boys Album Ranked

To start things off, it needs to be stated Beastie Boys never released a bad album. They’ve all collectively got something going for them individually. For over three decades and eight studio albums and then some, they’ve covered a lot of ground and influenced a generation of musicians spanning numerous genres. More importantly, they taught us all the impact three dudes putting emphasis on words in unison can have on the world. Read the rankings then go watch the “Sabotage” music video and remember how much you liked being a kid.

8. The Mix Up (2007)

Coming in dead last is the only album Beastie Boys ever released that won a Grammy. Which is interesting, considering it’s an instrumental album. I don’t know if the lack of singing is what finally landed the boys a grammy, but it’s certainly the reason it’s ranked last on the list. Not that it’s without its charm. The experimental funky jazz fusion is very on-brand and consistent with the band. But ultimately it feels like it’s missing something pretty fundamental, like you know, everything that makes the group so fun.

Play It Again: “Off The Grid”
Skip It: “Freaky Hijiki”

7. Hot Sauce Committee (Pt. 2) (2011)

This one hits a bit of a sore spot, because it was the last record the Beastie Boys were ever going to make. It was delayed and in production limbo for a few years as the dark clouds rolled in with MCA’s announcing a cancer diagnosis. The final era for the Beastie Boys did bring their best music video to date, the form of a short film “Fight For Your Right Revisited” which is kinda the magnum opus of their music video saga. As for the album itself, not as memorable as their earlier work. But considering it came out a good 30 years into their career, it showed promise the Beastie Boys engine still had some gas in the tank. Try listening to this and not shed a tear over MCA’s untimely passing in 2012. You can’t. In fact, I’m crying right not just thinking about it.

Play It Again: “Ok”
Skip It: “Funky Donkey”

6. To The 5 Boroughs (2004)

I’ve never been to New York City, I’m not sure if I’ll ever go to New York City. But thanks to this album, I don’t even think I need to bother. While a post-9/11 love letter to the Big Apple might seem like a super cringey idea, leave it to the Beastie Boys to produce a record that hits the mark for both coolness and loving where you come from. If that place is New York, anyways. This one is pretty much as serious as the band is gonna get and pretty political in nature. But at least they’re all rapping on this one and the beats go harder than “Hot Sauce Committee.” Just gotta get used to how “grown up” they all sound on this one.

Play It Again: “Right Right Now Now”
Skip It: “Hey Fuck You” (They didn’t need to name a song Hey Fuck You this late in their career.)

5. Check Your Head (1992)

By the time this album came out the ‘90s were in full force and it was clear the band was trying to wash off all that frat boy image that launched them to extreme success in the mid-80s. Clearly that’s not what the band wanted to be anymore and this record was a solid swing at putting some distance between them and previous releases. If you skip this record, you’re really not missing out on a whole lot. They’re still working some kinks out. Are they gonna be more funky, produce some mediocre rhymes or show off some more production skills? It’s a mixed bag, but if you sit through the entire thing you’ll find something you enjoy. Also, nothing else was really going on in 1992 musically, kind of a slow time for auditory arts.

Play It Again: “Gratitude”
Skip It: “Finger Lickin’ Good”

Honorable Mention: Aglio E Olio (1995)

We’re only listing studio albums and there are numerous EPs and whatnot I could comb through to place in the rankings, but honestly the eight studio albums are just fine on their own. The only thing missing was this EP where the band decided to go back to their punk roots before they became massively successful rappers. I’m not going to pick a repeat or skip it for this one, the entire thing clocks in under 12 minutes and it slaps front to back, go listen to it three times in a row.



4. Licensed To Ill (1986)

If I’m going to piss anyone off, it’s probably where I’m placing this one. This is the biggie. The first release that brought all those ‘80s beer-fueled party bangers to playlists all across your local campus for nearly 40 years. For good reason though, the use of samples aligns with the big beats and snotty kid attitudes all too well. Does it age well? No. It aged as well as most things that were widely successful in the mid-80s. That’s why it’s sitting at the halfway mark. While it is a rap album front to back, you’ve still got your punk rock bases covered. They show their early NYHC roots off at least a few times on this one, most notably back to back with “Fight For Your Right” into “No Sleep Til Brooklyn”

Play It Again: “The New Style”
Skip It: “Hold It Now, Hit It”

3. Hello Nasty (1998)

Ad-Rock claims this is the band’s best record overall. I’m not going to argue with him, but I do think he’s wrong. Although, this is kinda where the band “peaks” if you want to go that far. By the time this album came out in the late ‘90s, they were already more than well-established household names who can do new wrong. This album further expands on their experimental nature of working with everything in their vicinity and top-quality production. Bass particularly on this album seems more polished and perfected than anything they’ve released prior. This carries a weird techno, almost dance club element in with it at parts. You’ve definitely heard “Intergalactic” at numerous points in your life and that’s the vibe you’re going to feel throughout this one, so crank this one loudly if you’re stuck in traffic to set the mood for everyone around you to also enjoy.

Play It Again: “Remote Control”
Skip It: “Putting Shame In Your Game”

2. Paul’s Boutique (1989)

There’s literally no other record out there that sounds like this one. Even as far as Beastie Boys albums, this one is unique. So unique there was a bunch of court bullshit over the number of samples used throughout so there will never be another “Paul’s Boutique.” This also cost a boatload to make and was considered overall to be a bomb, so that’s probably a good sign the album kicks ass. It’s more about consistently establishing how big of weirdos they are when they’re not pretending to be party bros. Taking any weird elements from their first album and just making it 10 times weirder while making it work. This one pairs better with getting high on weed more than it does getting drunk on beer.

Play It Again: “Egg Man”
Skip It: “5-Piece Chicken Dinner” (unless you haven’t had dinner yet.)

1. Ill Communication (1994)

Here’s that sweet patch of grass you can roll your blanket out on. This one is just the right balance on the Beastie Boys scale. You’ve got them rapping together, funkin’ together, jazzin’ it out, hauling out some punk tunes. It’s 5 Stars all around and shows off every skill set they have. The first track even whips off the last bit of their ‘80s image of frat boy party nonsense with MCA apologizing, how sweet of them. It’s lengthy, clocking in around an hour to get through. But you’re going on a ride and touching your foot off half a dozen musical styles being held together by that magical Beastie Boys glue that gives this album the number 1 ranking.

Play It Again: “Flute Loop”
Skip It: “Eugene’s Lament”