Licensed To Ill

by Beastie Boys

Original Release Date: 1986-11-15

Licensed To Ill

Every few years, well-meaning critics ask if The Beastie Boys’ 1986 debut album “holds up.” But that question misses the point: Licensed to Ill is one of the most colossally gleeful, goofy in-jokes ever recorded. It’s many things, in fact: It’s the product of three snotty punks who brought anarchic energy to New York’s burgeoning rap scene. It’s an homage to the flotsam and jetsam of ’80s pop culture, a rejection of the band’s upper-crust origins, and a vibrant vehicle for the tongue-in-cheek libido and exuberance of youth. And it catapulted three young men into superstardom. The Beastie Boys, with an able assist from producer Rick Rubin—who was still in an NYU dorm at the time—pulled off a neat trick in marrying rock’s searing edge to the verbal interplay of nascent hip-hop. And they did it without trying to hide their origins: They were three Jewish kids from Manhattan, and they rapped like it. It’s clear something is cockeyed from the first track, “Rhymin’ and Stealin’.” Samples of Led Zeppelin and Black Sabbath collide with bravado-drenched verses about pirates, Moby Dick, Colonel Sanders, and Betty Crocker. It just gets weirder from there, with the purposely boneheaded “Fight for Your Right,” which simultaneously mocks and fuels party culture, and the backwards beat of “Paul Revere,” the band’s nonsensical origin story. And the anthemic “No Sleep Till Brooklyn” remains a headbanger’s delight. By the band’s own admission, the album’s crasser elements haven’t aged well; in 1999, Ad-Rock issued an apology for its homophobic language (the LP’s original title was Don’t Be a Faggot), noting that “time has healed our stupidity.” Stupidity it was. Still, while there’s nothing particularly edifying about Licensed to Ill, it remains one of the most unmitigated sources of fun ever committed to wax.


  1. Rhymin & Stealin (4:08)
  2. The New Style (4:35)
  3. She’s Crafty (3:36)
  4. Posse In Effect (2:27)
  5. Slow Ride (2:56)
  6. Girls (2:14)
  7. Fight For Your Right (3:28)
  8. No Sleep Till Brooklyn (4:07)
  9. Paul Revere (3:42)
  10. Hold It Now, Hit It (3:29)
  11. Brass Monkey (2:38)
  12. Slow And Low (3:37)
  13. Time To Get Ill (3:37)

Apple Music


Beastie Boys - (You Gotta) Fight For Your Right (To Party) [Official Music Video]

Release Images

Release Information

Key Value
Wikipedia URL
Format Vinyl LP Album Reissue (180 Gram, Gatefold, 30th Anniversary Edition)
Label Def Jam Recordings
Catalog Number 06025 478 207-5 (4)
Notes 30th anniversary reissue Made in the EU. No Universal Music Group logo (UMG) printed on the back cover right beside DefJam logo. Runout info: Variant 1 is hand-etched (with first ‘B’ very light), except for ‘16699 1A’ which is machine stamped.
Discogs URL Beastie Boys - Licensed To Ill