The lead single from Paul’s Boutique, “Hey Ladies” is (alongside “Shadrach”) the track you’d be most likely to just… know. Few bars encapsulate the general attitude as well as “I'm always out lookin' for a female companion,” a mission statement which gives way to lassos, Chachi in Charge, beatnik chicks and a Coupe de Ville. According to the Beastie Boys, when you’re as hot as them, “ladies flock like bees to a hive.”
“Hey Ladies” kicks off with little more than a drumkit and a guitar, both of which are courtesy of The Commodores. “Machine Gun” originally appeared as the title track to their 1974 debut album, which fell years before the funk group struck their soul-pop peak.
“Machine Gun” is still seldom sampled, though Machine Gun track “The Assembly Line” has garnered more than 300 distinct flips.
As was the case on “Shake Your Rump,” the titular refrain in “Hey Ladies” is directly sampled from another track altogether. This time, it’s the handiwork of hip-hop pioneer Kurtis Blow, who shouts the phrase on 1983’s “Party Time.”
Blow’s attention-grabbing yell is chased with a request: “get funky!” That’s a distinct sample, taken from The World’s Famous Supreme Team’s “Hey DJ,” released just one year after Blow’s “Party Time.”
The surprising cowbell solo is followed by some similarly cowbell-heavy percussion sampling, lifted from the waning days of disco. “Come Let Me Love You” was Jeanette ‘Lady’ Day’s first and most successful single, it was the brainchild of Abraham Lincoln Day Jr., who also produced and wrote it.
“Come Let Me Love You” might have proven a popular slice of early-’80s dance, but it’s ultimately turned up just short of ten samples.
Paired with that thudding cowbell is a tight guitar riff, courtesy of one Anthony Lockett. Lockett has been a member of funk band Cameo for 45 years, though he was just six years in when they released “Shake Your Pants,” the hit single from their 1980 LP, Cameosis.
Would you believe there’s a third concurrent sample running alongside the cowbell and the guitar? It’s largely buried, but undeniably present: the breakbeat from The Bar-Kays’ “Holy Ghost” underpins the passage from 1:07.
“Jazzy Sensation,” Afrika Bambaataa’s 1981 collaboration with The Jazzy Five, was the first-ever hip-hop single released on Tommy Boy Records. That label, though once-revered, has come under fire for their treatment of De La Soul.
The phrase sampled within is a fleeting introduction: “all the ladies in the house—.” You might remember that this one was also sampled on “Shake Your Rump.”
Immediately chasing Bambaataa’s voice is a guttural ad-lib sourced from a smash-hit boogie track. “Jungle Boogie” remains one of Kool & The Gang’s most memorable jams, something hip-hop has helped out with by way of at least 150 samples.
At long last, we stumble across the sample I’ve written about more than any other. Beside’s “Change The Beat” is often flipped for Fab Five Freddy’s vocoder vocals, which have been universally recognised as a malleable texture for scratching.
The scratch at 1:33 on “Hey Ladies” is such that you can actually hear the spoken word – “fresh!” – from his closing lyrics, “oh, this stuff is really fresh!”
Trying to find a single “funky” in James Brown’s titanic catalogue would be a thankless task, but thankfully, a few of his invocations stand tall. 1974’s “Funky President (People It’s Bad)” is one such utterance.
Written about Gerald Ford following his unelected ascension to the Presidency, “Funky President” has been sampled more than 850 times, easily making it one of the most flipped cuts of all time.
Brown begets Brown, and funk begets funk, at 2:16, when the Beasties sample the titular phrase from the Godfather’s “Ain’t It Funky Now.” The two-part instrumental single hit #24 on the Billboard Hot 100, which is no mean feat.
The classic 1969 funk cut is one of Brown’s less pervasive, though the Beasties themselves sampled the same track on “Dis Yourself ‘89 (Just Do It).”
Here’s another sly sample, one buried under the dominating vocals that nonetheless adds a further dimension to the richly textured cut. Crash Crew’s “High Power Rap” appears at 2:45, the emcees chanting “girls, girls, girls, girls—.”
If you’re a fan of Jay-Z – if you’re a fan of hip-hop, you oughta be – you’d recognise this passage from Blueprint single “Girls, Girls, Girls.” Kanye later repurposed an NYC shoutout for “Homecoming.”
Magilla Gorilla is not one of Hanna-Barbera’s most iconic properties, but the star of the two-season animated program was, at least in part, designed to sell toys, not to endure. In the years since, at least one sociologist has claimed that the show was steeped in the contemporaneous Civil Rights movement.
The sample appears at 2:49, beginning with “take my advice, at any price, a gorilla like your mother…”
Anybody who grew up listening to classic hits radio will know this one. The Sweet, a British glam-rock group, had a string of hits throughout the 1970s, though it’s “The Ballroom Blitz” that’s become their signature song.
It’s been sampled almost 20 times since its 1973 release, though has hardly any presence in hip-hop, perhaps unsurprisingly. Nonetheless, Tuff Crew sampled it on 1987’s “And We Will Rock.”
At 3:18, yet another grunt from the deep dark dungeons of funk, though this time, it’s courtesy of Zapp founder Roger Troutman. “So Ruff, So Tuff” was included on The Many Facets of Roger, his debut solo album, which nonetheless featured extensive contributions from his bandmates.
Primarily influential in West Coast hip-hop, Zapp and Roger have long been a staple of the genre. He was tragically killed by his brother Larry in 1999.
That flattened, crisp percussion that plays out the track from 3:25 is the work of George Clinton and the P-Funk All Stars. That band, intermittently used by Clinton during the ‘80s and ‘90s, released Urban Dancefloor Gorillas in 1983. “Pumpin’ It Up” was included on the electro-funk LP.
"5-Piece Chicken Dinner"
Equal parts palette cleanser and straight-up gag, “5-Piece Chicken Dinner” is a bizarre segue between lead single “Hey Ladies” and the relentless assault of “Looking Down the Barrel of a Gun.” The country-heavy, banjo-driven cut is a total anomaly on the record, as evidenced by the inner city album art, but the tonal whiplash is precisely the point.
There’s no completely serious Beastie Boys song, but “5-Minute Chicken Dinner” is one of the most out-and-out jokes of Paul’s Boutique. A 30-second pastiche built about Eric Weissberg’s “Shuckin’ The Corn,” a cut from Weissberg’s Deliverance companion LP.
The most famous track from that album, “Dueling Banjos,” was featured in the iconic scene in which Ronny Cox duets with a prodigious inbred child.
"Looking Down the Barrel of a Gun"
A two-verse track about harnessing rage in rhymes, “Looking Down the Barrel of a Gun” toes the line between verbal evisceration and physical confrontation. Musically, however, the track is undoubtedly one of the most confronting on the album, heaving with crunchy guitars, plodding percussion and a slow-moving, punk-heavy rap delivery.
“Last Bongo in Belgium,” included on the Incredible Bongo Band’s Bongo Rock, is something of a footnote to one of the greatest breakbeats of all time. The record is chiefly remembered for “Apache,” a cornerstone of hip-hop sampling that’s still going strong almost 50 years on.
“Mississippi Queen,” sampled for a drum hit and a guitar note at 1:51, is Mountain’s defining hit, but the hard rock band is remembered for a more obscure cut in the hip-hop world.
The song was released in 1970, the year after the hard rock group performed at Woodstock, and in 1972, they released their much-sampled rendition of “Long Red,” recorded live at the festival. 730 flips and counting!
“Possession is half the law / I had my routines before all y'all” bellow the Beasties on “Car Thief,” a cut that places rhyme jacking as tantamount to car theft. The comparison may have been inspired by a line from 1973’s The Mack, a blaxploitation film similar to their beloved Dolemite, but the real focal point here are the rhymes that eviscerate Russell Simmons: “I smoked up a bag of elephant tranquilizer / Because I had to deal with a money-hungry miser / Had a 'caine-filled Kool with my man, Rush Rush…”
The Donovan sample within is conjured by a reference to “Hurdy Gurdy Man,” the singer-songwriter’s defining hit. It makes sense that the artist be invoked on the record: Ad-Rock was dating Ione Skye, Donovan’s daughter, during the recording of the album. They’d go on to marry in 1992, separating in ‘95 and finally divorcing in ‘99.
The descending whistle at the open, a classic shorthand for a plummeting bomb, is lifted from the opening of Trouble Funk’s “Drop The Bomb.” Included on the D.C. go-go band’s 1982 debut of the same name, “Drop The Bomb” was previously sampled on Licensed To Ill cuts “The New Style” and “Hold It, Now Hit It.”
The melody that rises above the whistle at 0:17 is the work of The Jackson 5 or, more accurately, P-Funk originator George Clinton. “I’ll Bet You” was included on the quintet’s sophomore record, ABC, spearheaded by a smash-hit title track that signified the increasing popularity of disco sounds.
“I’ll Bet You” was originally included on Funkadelic, the group’s first LP, which was released just three months prior to the Jacksons’ cover.
The verse, which opens at 0:21, is underpinned by a sample of Funk Factory’s “Rien Ne Va Plus,” a 1975 cut from the supergroup’s only LP. A Polish-American fusion outfit, Funk Factory featured members such as Steve Gadd, Michał Urbaniak, Urszula Dudziak and Gerry Brown.
A sly sample at 1:20 – “I’m a farmer” – is both a joke and a cultural reference. Max Yasgur was indeed a farmer in Bethel, New York, most famous for allowing Woodstock to occur on his farm. The dialogue is taken from the second day of the festival, when he addressed the crowd.
Yasgur, who died in 1973, said that "if the generation gap is to be closed, we older people have to do more than we have done."
The invocation of the Hurdy Gurdy Man is punctuated with a drum fill lifted from – you guessed it – Donovan’s “Hurdy Gurdy Man.” That song was written in India, where Donovan was studying meditation with The Beatles in 1968, and originally featured a verse penned by George Harrison.
It’s infrequently sampled, but the track did feature as credit music for Fincher’s exceptional Zodiac.
"What Comes Around"
A portrait of washed up socialites that employs a handful of Dolemite riffs and some references to “bum cheese,” “What Comes Around” is another character study about nobody in particular. An indictment of fashionistas, social climbers and the reputation obsessed, the fleeting jam pulls no punches. “Living in the rat race, smoking rat weed / Well, you reap what you sow when you plant the seed!”
If you’re looking for a commanding drum fill to kick off your track, you can do a lot worse than the work of John Bonham, the drummer of legendary rock act Led Zeppelin. “Moby Dick” was included on Led Zeppelin II, released in 1969 and generally regarded as one of their heaviest rock efforts.
Bonham’s virtuosic drumming chops were an essential part of Zeppelin’s sound, and his sudden alcohol-induced death in 1980 led to their breakup.
The foremost instrumental sample is the handiwork of Gene Harris, an American pianist known for his fusion of soul and jazz. “Put On Train” was included on The 3 Sounds, named for Harris’ jazz trio, though none of the other members appeared on the Blue Note record. The song was written by Monk Higgins.
The opening is sampled at 0:03 on “What Comes Around,” and elements from 1:31 appear from 0:58.
Rock outweighs jazz on “What Comes Around,” as the third sample is courtesy of Alice Cooper. The opening riff from “It’s Hot Tonight” makes a fleeting appearance at 0:33, a testament to the blink-and-you’ll-miss-it nature of the Beastie’s approach.
A song about “three emcees who are on the go,” the second single from Paul’s Boutique seems like a strange place for a Biblical invocation. The titular invocation comes via Sly & The Family Stone, whose 1974 cut “Loose Booty” incorporates the names of the three fireproof Hebrews as a rhythmic refrain. Ad-Rock is Shadrach, Mike D is Meshach and MCA is Abednego, though there’s not much to their characters.
In keeping with the central sample, the song paints the Beasties as cheaters, thieves and sinners, dropping scripture like “I once was lost but now I'm found” and “who shall inherit the earth? The meek shall!” Dan LeRoy, who penned the 33 1/3rd book on Paul’s Boutique, claims that the fiery furnace of the Biblical allegory represents the trio’s experience at Def Jam:
“Finally on their own–and royally pissed about their past treatment–the trio used their exhilaration and (self-) righteous anger to create an anthem of empowerment. ‘They tell us what to do? Hell no! / Shadrach, Meshach, Abednego’ isn’t ‘Anarchy in the UK,’ but it’s as punk rock a moment as anything in the Beastie Boys catalogue.”
Rose Royce, as you may remember, featured prominently on “Shake Your Rump,” which borrowed generously from their successful Car Wash OST. They’re back to open “Shadrach,” this time with “Do Your Dance,” a nine-minute cut included on their Car Wash follow-up, 1977’s In Full Bloom.
It takes just ten seconds for a second breakbeat to appear, and it’s not just any old flip: it’s one of the most popular and pervasive cadences of all time. Though a James Brown joint, “Funky Drummer” is all about Clyde Stubblefield, his onetime drummer. Though Clyde is the star, Brown’s vocal ad-libs from the track are also oft-invoked.
Sly & The Family Stone are back, this time with some powerhouse vocals sourced from 1974’s Small Talk. “Loose Booty” peaked at #84 on the Billboard Hot 100, making it the minor hit that sent off the original Family Stone, who disbanded between the recording and release of the record.
The vocals at 0:10 are sourced from within, as is the central refrain – “Shadrach, Meshach, Abednego” – which first enters at 0:58.
That one-four punch of guitar goodness at 0:18 is the work of… The Sugarhill Gang? It seems bizarre, but the undeniably rock-heavy riff is lifted from “Sugar Hill Groove,” a 1980 single from the legendary “Rapper’s Delight” trio.
The track was included on their self-titled debut, the only hit from which was “Rapper’s Delight,” initially dropped as a standalone single. Despite this, it proved to be their most successful LP.
The chaotically-delivered lyric “riddle me this, my brother,” which bursts through the mix at 0:19, hides the introduction of a third break. This one’s taken from the opening to Black Oak Arkansas’ “Hot and Nasty,” included on their eponymous 1971 debut.
To reference AC/DC is to tap into some of the most relentless and influential rock music Australia’s ever produced, so it’s a point of national pride that the Beasties decide to salute those about to rock at 0:33.
“For Those About To Rock (We Salute You)” was included on the 1981 record of the same name, and became the first (and, until 2008, only) AC/DC record to hit #1 in the US.
Ballin' Jack, an American horn rock outfit, peaked with minor hit “Super Highway,” the high point of their five-year tenure. The Luther Rabb-led group toured with Rabb’s childhood friend Jimi Hendrix, played in Japan and, at a 1972 Troubadour show, were opened for by a young Billy Joel.
“Never Let ‘Em Say” is sampled at 2:36, with multiple elements of the track – drums, riff and vocals – slowed and inserted whole.
Released months prior to “Rapper’s Delight,” first as a b-side and then as a largely unsuccessful single, “King Tim III (Personality Jock)” is sometimes given the distinction of being the first hip-hop single, though the mismanagement of the release generally precludes it from the discussion.
The interpolated lyric in question - “like hot butter, say what, the popcorn!” – appears at 3:04 on “Shadrach.”
The “say what” in the above lyric is the only element directly sampled, though it’s not taken from The Fatback Band’s “King Tim III.” The Beasties sample the titular phrase from “Say What” by Trouble Funk, a D.C.-based go-go band who previously appeared on “Car Thief.”
This sample is fascinating, in that it lifts an phrase and uses it to complete a totally seperate interpolation. It’s a sample inside a sample!
Closing out “Shadrach” is another sample from the Sugar Hill wheelhouse, this time pulling from one of their more notable hip-hop acts. “That’s The Joint” was previously sampled on “Shake Your Rump,” though this time, the Beasties take a lyric from Li’l Rodney C!’s verse.
The phrase, “—being very proud to be an emcee,” crops up at 3:14 on “Shadrach,” and was later shouted out in the Beasties’ 2018 autobiography.
"Ask for Janice"
“Ask for Janice,” the brief interlude that leads into the ambitious, multi-part “B-Boy Bouillabaisse,” is a radio advertisement so short that I might as well put the entire thing in here.
“The best in men's clothing
Call Paul's Boutique, ask for Janice
The number is, ah, 718-498-1043
That's Paul's Boutique, and they're in Brooklyn.”
Though it seems an unlikely candidate for a sequel, “Ask for Janice (Part II)” was included on 1992 VHS, The Skills to Pay the Bills. A contemporaneous EW review called that release “a gangly, loose-limbed potpourri,” which works as a good segue into our next French-inspired cut…