By Gil Kaufman
The Beastie Boys were infamous for their off-the-wall music videos. Adam Yauch, one third of the legendary trio, died on Friday (May 4) but a look back at their impressive catalog finds his legacy very much alive.
From the frat-boy fun of 1986’s “(You Gotta) Fight for Your Right (To Party)” video to what will likely be their final clip, a 2011 all-star clip to promote the Hot Sauce Committee Part Two single “Make Some Noise” and the “Fight for Your Right Revisited” film, the B-Boys not only had fun, they made sure we did too.
With the passing of Adam Yauch (a.k.a. MCA) on Friday (May 4) at age 47 following a three-year battle with cancer, MTV News takes a look back at some of the trio’s most beloved clips, as well as the ones directed by Yauch under his Swedish pseudonym, Nathaniel Hornblower.
“(You Gotta) Fight for Your Right (To Party)”
This is the one that launched MCA, Ad-Rock and Mike D to global stardom. The party anthem was accompanied by a very literal video in which, well, the fellas throw a crazy party and trash the joint.
“No Sleep Till Brooklyn”
Young, wild and free, the Boys lampoon heavy-metal knuckleheads after a cheesy club promoter turns them away when they show up with their “instruments” (i.e. scratch-ready records). Wearing metal wigs and Poison-worthy spandex, they soon strip down to their streetwise uniforms and start raising some hell and engaging in the kinds of shenanigans they became infamous for when they hit the road with Madonna on their first major tour. It’s silly and amateurish, but then again, so were they at that time.
In one of the first of many clips in which the trio would slip into a number of alternate personas, this video from Paul’s Boutique had it all: sushi chefs, eight-track tapes, disco dancing, human clocks, cowbells, pimp suits, a mariachi band, fake mustaches and goatees, scuba diving, Afro wigs, “Saturday Night Fever” homages, a “Free James Brown” subliminal message, a 1970s Vincent Van Gogh and the original appearance of booty pads.
“So What Cha Want”
They weren’t all high-concept. Yauch was behind the lens for this 1992 mind-tripper, which simply tracked the three MCs as they flexed and rapped their way through a forest tricked out with negative-image special effects intercut with ominous nature footage.
The ne plus ultra of Beastie videos, this ’70s cop-show spoof directed by pal Spike Jonze is one of the funniest and most creative clips in music-video history. Action-packed and simultaneously utterly ridiculous, the mini-movie finds the Boys cruising the streets of San Francisco in a late model sedan while chasing the bad buys in an increasingly ridiculous series of wigs, mustaches and costumes. Yauch appears as the dapper Sir Stewart Wallace, as well as Nathan Wind playing Cochese.
Filmed by Hornblower, this classic spoof of Japanese monster movies from 1998’s Hello Nasty is again awash in absurd costumes as Yauch makes popping, locking killer robots look expensively cheap. Between shots of the haz-mat-suit-wearing MCs posing and rapping in Tokyo subway stations and streets into a fish-eye lens, we see their scientific alter egos trying to save their giant robot from getting short-circuited by a sea creature.
“Body Movin’ “
Yauch/Hornblower went highbrow with the video for this Hello Nasty single, which was inspired by the beloved cult 1968 Italian cat-burglar caper “Danger Diabolik.” Once again, Yauch dressed himself and his partners-in-crime in absurd outfits and had them act out everything from laughable sword fights (complete with a bloody Yauch beheading) to catapult escapes, helicopter vs. car chase scenes and midair parachute wrestling matches.
“Ch-Check It Out”
Not as well known, this kinetic Hornblower clip from 2004 is another mix of aggressive into-the-camera rapping, with bits of everything from “Star Trek” homages, swamp airboat chases, to the Boys in old-lady drag throwing fish across the avenue at their male counterparts.