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Licensed To Ill

Beastie Boys

1986

Buy At Rough Trade
Licensed To Ill
Album Summary

Licensed to Ill is the debut studio album by American rap rock group Beastie Boys. It was released on November 15, 1986, by Def Jam and Columbia Records, and became the first rap LP to top the Billboard album chart. It is one of Columbia Records' fastest-selling debut records to date and was certified Diamond by the Recording Industry Association of America in 2015 for shipping over ten million copies in the United States.

Wikipedia

Rating

3.55

Votes

12671
Genres
Hip Hop

Reviews

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Tue Apr 20 2021
5

Perhaps Licensed to Ill was inevitable -- a white group blending rock and rap, giving them the first number one album in hip-hop history. But that reading of the album's history gives short shrift to the Beastie Boys; producer Rick Rubin, and his label, Def Jam, and this remarkable record, since mixing metal and hip-hop isn't necessarily an easy thing to do. Just sampling and scratching Sabbath and Zeppelin to hip-hop beats does not make for an automatically good record, though there is a visceral thrill to hearing those muscular riffs put into overdrive with scratching. But, much of that is due to the producing skills of Rick Rubin, a metalhead who formed Def Jam Records with Russell Simmons and had previously flirted with this sound on Run-D.M.C.'s Raising Hell, not to mention a few singles and one-offs with the Beasties prior to this record. He made rap rock, but to give him lone credit for Licensed to Ill (as some have) is misleading, since that very same combination would not have been as powerful, nor would it have aged so well -- aged into a rock classic -- if it weren't for the Beastie Boys, who fuel this record through their passion for subcultures, pop culture, jokes, and the intoxicating power of wordplay. At the time, it wasn't immediately apparent that their obnoxious patter was part of a persona (a fate that would later plague Eminem), but the years have clarified that this was a joke -- although, listening to the cajoling rhymes, filled with clear parodies and absurdities, it's hard to imagine the offense that some took at the time. Which, naturally, is the credit of not just the music -- they don't call it the devil's music for nothing -- but the wild imagination of the Beasties, whose rhymes sear into consciousness through their gonzo humor and gleeful delivery. There hasn't been a funnier, more infectious record in pop music than this, and it's not because the group is mocking rappers (in all honesty, the truly twisted barbs are hurled at frat boys and lager lads), but because they've already created their own universe and points of reference, where it's as funny to spit out absurdist rhymes and pound out "Fight for Your Right (To Party)" as it is to send up street corner doo wop with "Girls." Then, there is the overpowering loudness of the record -- operating from the axis of where metal, punk, and rap meet, there never has been a record this heavy and nimble, drunk on its own power yet giddy with what they're getting away with. There is a sense of genuine discovery, of creating new music, that remains years later, after countless plays, countless misinterpretations, countless rip-off acts, even countless apologies from the Beasties, who seemed guilty by how intoxicating the sound of it is, how it makes beer-soaked hedonism sound like the apogee of human experience. And maybe it is, maybe it isn't, but in either case, Licensed to Ill reigns tall among the greatest records of its time.

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Thu Sep 02 2021
5

One of the most entertaining debut records of all time. It has it all, extremely creative and hard-hitting funky jazzy beats, a nice variety of headbangers and funny satire of frat culture, and an edgy raw energy that is rarely seen from a contemporary hip hop outfit. Even after having listened to it many times, I never stop shaking my head and tapping my feet to Rhymin & Stealin, Fight For Your Right, No Sleep Till Brooklyn, Slow and Low and Brass Monkey, and I don't think I ever will. 5/5.

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Sat Jan 09 2021
5

It's the fuckin' Beastie Boys, man!

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Tue May 11 2021
5

Classic style, unique production, unabashedly playful. You can try and throw this on in the background, but someone will start singing along.

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Sat May 15 2021
3

Is this good, or is it just nostalgia.

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Fri Sep 17 2021
5

Possibly the best debut album in hip-hop history. It’s hard, it’s funny, and these guys tell stories with the best, as evidenced in tracks like Paul Revere. And everyone who’s ever been a teenager can relate to Fight for Your Right. A blast from start to finish.

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Fri Feb 10 2023
5

If I break it down into its parts, no one bit is massively to my taste. But as a whole... Fantastic. Great fun.

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Fri Apr 28 2023
5

Best album in the history of recorded music!

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Wed May 17 2023
5

Haven’t listened to this whole album in years and I forgot about some of the deep cuts. This thing still bangs. Some of the lyrics are dated, but otherwise from start to finish this album is great. It starts with the crushing Led Zeppelin drum sample and doesn’t let up. It was so much fun to revisit a favorite from when I was young.

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Wed Apr 27 2022
4

What kind of elder millennial would I be if I didn’t like this album?! I knew several songs already.

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Tue Oct 05 2021
1

This is painful to listen to. Fight for your right is the only vaguely listenable track on here, there rest is cringey, outdated and dull

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Sun Jul 23 2023
1

Disappointing. I'm familiar with later Beasties material but hadn't listened to this. I knew Fight for your right and was expecting a broader approach but...yeah, a lot of this is trash. Admittedly it has some charm in the puerility of the lyrics and the roughness of the production, but mostly its just sloppy. The beats and scratching are all over the place and a lot of the lyrics are VERY dated. The beasties were never the most experimental act - they have limited flows, but at least the later material has a psychedelic, cartoonist approach to the lyrics. This is pretty much all just frat-house nonsense. 'Girls' in particular is trash. I know they matured and apologised for this kind of material later in their careers. They were young and dumb and didn't know any better. YOU CAN DO BETTER THAN THIS. This is Brett Kavanagh's "I LIKE BEER" whining stretched out to full album length and performed by Gilbert Gottfried.

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Fri Sep 25 2020
5

The album that started it all, absolute classic

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Mon Nov 22 2021
5

Run DMC hires the singer from RATM

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Tue Dec 28 2021
5

I love this album. I didn't even realize how much I loved it until I listened to it top to bottom (which I'm not sure I've ever actually done in a single sitting before). It's early hip-hop that's done well. The sampling, scratching, and "hyping" at its finest. But the Beastie Boys are also punk rock. They rap AND play instruments. They're angry and anti-establishment. It's also crazy to think that this was their debut album. It has so many classics on it. Well done, boys.

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Sun Feb 13 2022
5

Great album, really didn't realise that Rick Rubin had produced this and the inclusion of Slayers Guitarist on "No Sleep To Brooklyn" is evidence of the broad nature of Ricks influence across music generally (Not forgetting his brilliant work with Johnny Cash of course) Amazing that these three white boys got the Hip-Hop Kudos they did but you have to love their mix of hip-hop humour and rock. As They say You Gotta "Fight For the Right" to Party! Well worth the listing in my opinion

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Tue Jul 12 2022
5

It’s fantastic and I’ve heard it on vinyl (still have an original pressing), tape, CD, and then into high resolution digital audio. It’s garish and fantastic.

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Sat Apr 08 2023
5

It's content was misunderstood and misconstrued a lot - even by its creators for a time but this remains an absolute steadfast classic.

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Wed Oct 27 2021
4

loved their song I want it that way 😀

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Wed Sep 01 2021
3

This should be good but it's not the beastie boys that resonate with me

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Thu Feb 02 2023
2

A quick disclaimer: I fully realize I'm going to sound like an old curmudgeon yelling at kids to get off his lawn with the review. Having said that, I just don't get it. It's like hearing a bunch of kids yelling at me for 45 minutes. Fight For Your Right is the one exception - I like it because it's actually musical in nature. Still shouting but at least there is more going on than that. I also (slightly) enjoyed hearing some of the samples from Led Zeppelin and CCR. Sorry, but it's just not for me. 2 stars.

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Tue Feb 14 2023
2

J'aurais mis 2.5 si on me laissait le faire...

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Mon May 29 2023
2

I just don't like the Beastie Boys, unfortunately

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Fri Jun 02 2023
2

I really love no sleep till Brooklyn and fight for your right, but would have been fine listening to just those 2 songs. So much yellinf

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Mon Oct 23 2023
2

I've never quite gotten the appeal of the Beastie Boys. After listening to Licensed to Ill all the way through, I...still don't get the appeal. But then I have listened to this album all the way through before. It's interesting, amusing, and am glad to listen to it as a cultural thing, but it's just not that interesting, musically, intellectually, or any other way.

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Wed Feb 14 2024
2

Cheesy beats, cheesy rhymes, samples where the original is infinitely better than the resulting song, it gets an extra star for the iconic cover.

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Wed Feb 14 2024
2

Very obnoxious, would give it one star but I know its very influential

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Mon Feb 19 2024
2

I can’t help my foot tapping along and I know this is ground-breaking and technically v clever in an analogue 80s world…but it’s hard to take a whole album of this. Just sounds so samey.

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Wed Jan 27 2021
5

This was fun. I forget how many hits this album generated (She's Crafty, Girls, FFYRTP, Brass Monkey, Paul Revere, and No Sleep til Brooklyn). Also, Aesop Rock gave a nod to Rhymin' and Stealin' in Rings. "Rhymin' and stealin' and bein' a clod. Distractions free to maraud."

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Thu Jun 17 2021
5

You already KNOW I'm gonna give this 5 stars! Don't even need to listen to it (but I will). Absolute bangers all the way through. Definitely a bit of nostalgia playing a role, but eh. I love it!

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Tue May 04 2021
5

Outstanding and Ground Breaking!

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Sat Feb 20 2021
5

I mean, come on. This is too easy. Cuh-lassic. Although some of these hits are definitely outdated and the Boys have admitted to as much as well.

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Thu Jan 21 2021
5

Classic. Love it. Never gets old.

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Mon Mar 08 2021
5

It is ridiculously amazing. It is helpful to have the context that the absurdity is tongue-in-cheek , and makes the album a bit more timeless than just a frat-bro album from the 80's. The rhymin' and energy are pure fun.

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Fri Jul 09 2021
5

Guys, I got to talk to Mike D on the phone once and he had to stop for a second to corral his kids out of the room because they were having a NERF war. Obviously, some of the hits here are silly and didn’t age so well but it’s still catchy as hell, fun, and I know most of the words without ever having even owned this record. If this is the only Beasties record on this list, I will burn this list to the ground.

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Tue Mar 09 2021
5

yas! Zepppppp drums to start. love this album

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Tue Feb 09 2021
5

4.6* amazing album. lots of iconic songs on here and some nostalgic tracks! great album though overall!

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Wed Feb 03 2021
5

They don't have the right to be this good for a band that started as a joke

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Wed Feb 03 2021
5

Nunca le había puesto tanta atención a los beastie boys que chulada chingao

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Thu Mar 11 2021
5

Phenomenal album! Played the hell out of this as a teenager!

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Tue Apr 20 2021
5

I've got nostalgia bias, but I love these guys. They're sort of one big satirical pisstake of hip-hop and rap-rock, but their energy and dedication is infectious, and they're always making me laugh. The way they enunciate their words really clearly makes it easy for me to get the jokes, and I can still appreciate their juvenile sense of humour since it's wrapped up in a sort of flowing rap group energy that doesn't really stop, it just jumps from one rapper to the next. These guys probably wrote most of these songs drunk, they rhyme the stupidest things and write very dumb lines, and they pad out lyrical space with lots of callbacks to other lines. However, they've got variety of rap and rock, and they've managed to keep this juvenile conceptual-callback sarcastic "my posse is the best" rap group style through their whole career, and I must say, it's grown on me. Only thing I'd mark them down for is that their beats aren't that well developed on this album, however, it was 1986 so I expect they were pioneers somewhat with their hip hop loops.

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Tue Mar 16 2021
5

classic - didnt know the original name was "Dont be a Faggot". glad they fixed that!!!

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Tue Jun 15 2021
5

Old School hip-hop met heel wat rock-invloeden. De nummers Girls, Fight For Your Right en No Sleep Till Brooklyn staan rug aan rug in dit album, en zijn alle 3 fantastisch, en aan persoonlijke herinneringen verbonden. Is dit een objectieve beoordeling? Misschien niet, maar toch 5/5 voor dit album!

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Tue Mar 23 2021
5

Sí bien nunca me han llamado la atención sí es cierto que ha sido por no hacerles demasiado caso. Con este disco me revientan todos los esquemas y me vuelven fan total. Me parece una locura que hicieran esto en los ochenta. Temazos. Trepidante y rompedor. Genial.

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Wed Mar 17 2021
5

I really enjoyed this. Loved the use of samples, guitars and the energy of it.

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Mon Jul 19 2021
5

There's not much to add with this album, it's an amazing album that made the hip-hop genre into something more vicious with their samples of hard rock and screeching vocals. It's certainly in the upper echelons of most influential hip hop albums of the 1980's

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Tue May 11 2021
5

Amazing debut album. So Many hits on here which for a first album is impressive. Totally unique sound at the time.

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Fri Jul 16 2021
5

Solid album all around. Best beastie boys album. Probably one of the few rappers/groups that provide humor in their songs. They come out hard and provide rap hits over and over but with rock stylings and rap punk beats. 8.8/10

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Mon Jun 07 2021
5

Classic. Know it well. Love it.

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Mon Aug 16 2021
5

Can't decide between this or Paul's Boutique

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Wed Sep 22 2021
5

Simply awesome. This is a must listen.

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Sat Sep 25 2021
5

This one doesn’t get love because of albums from Paul’s Boutique onward, but that’s unfortunate. Licensed to Ill kicks ass. It takes real skill to be that bratty.

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Tue Oct 05 2021
5

Iconic album. Beastie boys are goats

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Sat Nov 27 2021
5

An all time classic. Some of it has aged badly and been disowned by the Beastie Boys, but it's almost all classics. Girls is terrible (though I did find it funny when I was 12) but every track after that could be a single. And most of the tracks before it. It gets 4 stars - only because Paul's Boutique, Ill Communication and Hello Nasty are all better albums by the same band. If it were any other group, it'd be 5! You know what, it is a 5 I'm supposed to be objective, aren't I.

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Wed Dec 01 2021
5

Loved it! Exactly what you expect but great nonetheless.

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Tue Jan 11 2022
5

They evolved more after this, got more aware, but this album remains a classic.

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Wed Jan 12 2022
5

Super fun, always a pleasure to bop to.

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Tue Feb 08 2022
5

Punk rock, metal hip hop! I love this album. Lyrics are fun and tell a story. Love the Beasties. 5

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Wed Feb 16 2022
5

oooooo nice. impressive debut album

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Fri Feb 25 2022
5

Very fun album. Insane number of hits. Hard to believe it came out in the mid-80s.

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Mon Mar 07 2022
5

loved it, Slow ride - amazing

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Sat Mar 12 2022
5

You can tell they were having fun making this because the feeling rubs off on you.

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Mon Mar 28 2022
5

One of my all time favorites, just so good.

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Thu Apr 07 2022
5

Great samples, beats, bars, and bangers. Could not ask for more out of an album

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Mon Apr 11 2022
5

Classic and ground breaking. Good music to boot. I've listened to this often since high school. Never gets old.

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Fri Apr 15 2022
5

Snotty dickheads grab hip-hop and stuff it in the locker. Though some of the rhymes may sound dated now and would even be disowned by the boys we should never forget - this was meant to be satirical. It still sounds fucking great. Best Tracks: The New Style; Fight For Your Right; Hold It, Now Hit It

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Wed May 04 2022
5

The best rap album of all time. Enough said

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