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Albee Square Mall (“Dedication,” Hello Nasty / “Hey Fuck You,” To The 5 Boroughs)
A mall on Flatbush Avenue in Brooklyn, since cleared out for a mixed-use development. Biz Markie wrote a whole song about it on Goin Off, “Albee Square Mall,” which proclaimed, “My house is the Albee Square Mall.”
Alex and Marilyn (“The Grasshopper Unit (Keep Movin’),” Hello Nasty)
Hollywood producer Alex Grasshoff and his wife, recording-studio-owner Marilyn, who rented their one-bedroom L.A. home the Beasties during the recording of Paul’s Boutique; it was nicknamed “The G-Spot” for the gold “G” on the front of the house. The Grasshoffs had no idea who the Beasties were—or their reputation for partying—when they rented the house to them for $11,000 a month.
All-Tempa-Cheer (“Triple Trouble,” To The 5 Boroughs)
An old name of the laundry detergent Cheer, an abbreviation of “All Temperature Cheer,” as it was known beginning in the early ’60s.
Anastos, Ernie (“Finger Lickin’ Good,” Check Your Head)
As regular viewers of New York City local newscasts know, Anastos is a longtime TV anchor. He gained national notoriety in 2009 when he mistakenly said, “keep fucking that chicken”—which sort of sounds like a Beastie Boys lyric—during a live broadcast.
Andretti, Mario (“Shadrach,” Paul’s Boutique)
Italian-American race-car driver Mario Andretti competed successfully on multiple racing circuits—including IndyCar, Formula One, and NASCAR—between 1959 and his final retirement in 2000. Like nearly all professional racers, Andretti did crash from time to time, proving that he did not “always drive his car well.”
Apple Bottom jeans (“Lee Majors Come Again,” Hot Sauce Committee Part Two)
Apple Bottoms, a clothing line created by Nelly, offers a line of jeans specifically tailored to hug and flatter the curves of women with voluptuous posteriors. The term “apple bottom” has subsequently become synonymous with aesthetically pleasing asses.
Asana (“Unite,” Hello Nasty)
A type of yoga posture. It’s intended to maintain well-being and, as Mike D points out, improve flexibility.
Ben Davis (“Professor Booty,” Check Your Head)
This line of work clothes has long been popular in the West Coast rap community and among Latin youths. It once carried the logo, “Union Made Plenty Tough,” inspiring the line “The logo I sport is the face of the monkey, union-made Ben Davis quality, it’s no junk see.” But after union workers went on strike in 2004, it now reads “USA Made Plenty Tough.”
Bernard, Evan (“Get It Together,” Ill Communication)
Music video and commercial director whose work includes the “Root Down” video, ads for Red Stripe, and the short film “Pound.”
The Blackbyrds, (“Do It,” Ill Communication)
Jazz/R&B/funk crossover group whose members included star trumpeter Donald Byrd. Byrd also recruited some of his students as band members. The group’s hits include “Walking In Rhythm” and “Do It, Fluid,” referenced directly in “Do It.”
Blimpie Bluffin (“Rhyme The Rhyme Well,” To The 5 Boroughs)
The Beastie Boys reference the Blimpie subway-sandwich chain a few times in their songs, but this one calls out Blimpie’s breakfast sandwich/McMuffin knockoff, the Bluffin. It also gets name-checked in “Too Many Rappers,” a Nas-assisted song on the new Hot Sauce Committee Part II.
Bloopers (“Crawlspace,” To The 5 Boroughs)
TV’s Bloopers And Practical Jokes, the hidden-camera show hosted by Dick Clark and Ed McMahon in the mid-’80s.
Bodé, Vaughn / Cheech Wizard (“Sure Shot,” Ill Communiation), (“The Sounds Of Science,” Paul’s Boutique)
Cartoonist Vaughn Bodé created the big-hatted, slick-talking psychedelic mystic Cheech Wizard early in his too-brief career, and drew the character in underground comics and national magazines alike until his death in 1975. (Though Cheech Wizard was just as well known for being spray-painted on walls by enthusiastic fans).
Brass Monkey (“Brass Monkey,” Licensed To Ill)
The world sang along with “Brass Monkey” without knowing precisely what the song was championing. Depending on who you’re talking to, it’s either a 40-ounce bottle of malt liquor, consumed to the top of the label and then re-filled with orange juice, or simply a cocktail made with rum, vodka, and orange juice. Either way, “double R foots the bill most definitely”—that’d be Rick Rubin.
Brim (“Root Down,” Ill Communication)
A brand of decaffeinated instant coffee, Brim’s ads frequently included the line “Fill it to the rim… with Brim” (hence the “Root Down” line “I’ll fill you to the fuckin’ rim like Brim”).
Captain Bligh, Col. Sanders, Davy Jones’ locker (“Rhymin’ And Stealin’,” Licensed To Ill)
The Beasties trip through maritime history without a compass here: Captain Bligh survived the mutiny on the HMS Bounty; Colonel Sanders made chicken with 11 herbs and spices; Davy Jones’ locker is the bottom of the sea—where dead sailors dwell.
Carew, Rod (“Sure Shot,” Ill Communiation)
A Hall Of Fame second baseman, Carew’s career stretched from 1967 to 1985 and included long stints with the Minnesota Twins and the California Angels. (Both teams retired his number.)
“’Cause I’m Pete The Puma, Minnie The Moocher, got every type of flavor that will suit you.” (“Finger Lickin’ Good,” Check Your Head)
Pete The Puma (or simply Pete Puma) is an obscure character from the Looney Tunes universe, known for his mischievous nature and diabolical laugh. “Minnie The Moocher” was a million-selling hit from 1931 by Cab Calloway, who later re-recorded the song for a Betty Boop cartoon.
Cerrone (“Triple Trouble,” To The 5 Boroughs)
French disco innovator Jean-Marc Cerrone, whose “Love In C Minor” was a major hit in the mid-’70s. He’s also generally credited with being the first person to put the kick drum in the forefront of dance music.
“Chachi and Joanie” (“Get It Together,” Ill Communication)
Teen sweethearts played by Scott Baio and Erin Moran on Happy Days and its short-lived spin-off Joanie Loves Chachi.
Chateauneuf du Pape (“Body Movin’,” Hello Nasty)
A red wine from France’s Rhône valley that Food And Wine says offers “immediate gratification both intellectual and hedonistic in nature,” much like the Beasties when they start to rap.
Chauncey the Gardener (“Shazam!”, To The 5 Boroughs)
Peter Sellers’ simple-minded character in 1979’s Being There.
Cone of Silence (“We Got The,” To The 5 Boroughs)
A recurring gag on the ’60s TV show Get Smart (and updated in 2008 for the little-loved Steve Carell film): a big plastic tube covers two people’s heads, ostensibly to prevent their conversation from being heard by others.
Cornelius, Don (“Flute Loop,” Ill Communication)
Velvet-voiced creator and star of the syndicated music program Soul Train.
Miss Crabtree/Spanky (“3-Minute Rule,” Paul’s Boutique)
Miss Crabtree was the beautiful young schoolteacher who bewitched the “little rascals” in Hal Roach’s Our Gang shorts, while Spanky was one of the latter-day Rascals. Since the characters never appeared together, it’s highly unlikely that Spanky ever “got over on” Miss Crabtree.
Crazy Eddie (“Shazam!,” To The 5 Boroughs)
A regional electronics retailer located in the Northeast, Crazy Eddie drew attention in the ’70s thanks to its obnoxious radio and TV commercials featuring the eponymous “Crazy Eddie” (really a local radio DJ named Jerry Carroll) howling that the store’s prices were innnnnsssaaaaannnnneee. Turns out the chain’s billing practices were, too: The company was famously investigated by the SEC in the mid-’80s and eventually went out of business (though the name lives on). Hence Mike D “putting MCs out of business like they Crazy Eddie.”
Cruex (“3 The Hard Way,” To The 5 Boroughs)
An anti-fungal spray/powder used to treat jock itch.
Dechen (“The Grasshopper Unit (Keep Movin’),” Hello Nasty)
Dechen Wangdu, MCA’s wife. This one goes out to her.
Dee, Kool Moe (“Root Down,” Ill Communication)
See “Harlem World”
Defender, (“Body Movin’,” Hello Nasty)
A 1980 arcade game that featured a “hyperspace” button that would teleport you to a different—and potentially more dangerous—location. The Defender manual warns to use hyperspace “only when you have no other alternative,” a risk-taking attitude Ad-Rock apparently identifies with when he says, “And if you play Defender I can be your hyperspace”
Diallo, Amadou (“We Got The,” To The 5 Boroughs)
The 23-year-old immigrant infamously gunned down by four NYPD officers—who fired a staggering 41 rounds—in February of 1999. All four were later acquitted of wrongdoing.
D.F.L. (“B-Boys Makin’ With The Freak Freak,” Ill Communication)
Also known as Dead Fucking Last, D.F.L. released an EP on the Beasties’ Grand Royal label with Adam Horovitz playing bass. (Vocalist Tom Davis is the brother of Tamra Davis, wife of Mike D.) The group later released a pair of albums for Epitaph before splitting.
Diller, Phyllis (“Time To Get Ill,” Licensed To Ill)
A thespian and comedian even older than Abe Vigoda, there is also no reason to think that Phyllis Diller knows how to rhyme.
Dirty Mary Crazy Larry (“High Plains Drifter,” Paul’s Boutique)
Susan George and Peter Fonda played the title characters in Dirty Mary Crazy Larry, one of the quintessential existential ’70s car-chase movies, with Fonda as a stock-car-racer-turned-robber and George as his clingy one-night-stand.
DJ Chuck Chillout (“Looking Down The Barrel Of A Gun,” Paul’s Boutique)
During the early-’80s heyday of old-school hip-hop, Charles Turner (a.k.a. Chuck Chillout) worked as a DJ at New York’s 98.7 KISS-FM, and later teamed with rapper Kool Chip for the album Masters Of The Rhythm.
Dolemite (“Egg Man” and “B-Boy Bouillabaisse” Paul’s Boutique)
Through multiple references and quotes, the Beastie Boys helped revive interest in the 1975 blaxploitation comedy Dolemite, starring comedian Rudy Ray Moore (who created the character of the outsized African-American hero in his stand-up act). Dolemite is cited directly in “Egg Man,” and the Dolemite character Joe Blow The Loverman is mentioned in the “Lay It On Me” segment of “B-Boy Bouillabaisse.”
Dorsey, Lee (“Sure Shot,” Ill Communiation)
A New Orleans-based soul and R&B star, Dorsey is best known for his hit “Working In The Coal Mine,” but the reference here draws on his 1969 single “Everything I Do Gonh Be Funky (From Now On).”
Drakoulias, George (“Stop That Train” from “B-Boy Bouillabaisse,” Paul’s Boutique)
Def Jam A&R man George Drakoulias helped discover the Beastie Boys for Rick Rubin, and later became a producer for Rubin’s American Recordings, working on albums by The Black Crowes, The Jayhawks, and Tom Petty. There’s no record of him ever working at an Orange Julius.
The Dungeon (“The Move” and “Putting Shame In Your Game,” Hello Nasty)
The New York City-based studio where Beastie Boys recorded the majority of Hello Nasty.
E.F. Hutton (“Rhyme The Rhyme Well,” To The 5 Boroughs)
Another bastion of the TV landscape in the ’80s, commercials for stock-brokerage firm E.F. Hutton had the tagline, “When E.F. Hutton talks, people listen.” Any time someone said the company’s name, everyone froze and listened attentively. Right after Ad-Rock says, “Shhh you heard me like I’m E.F. Hutton,” the track drops out for a second. (An endless number of acquisitions and mergers later, the company is now part of Morgan Stanley Smith Barney—we think.)
“Ernest Shackleton, Orde-Lees, pemmican” (“Oh Word?,” To The 5 Boroughs)
MCA gets all historic in this couplet, mentioning famous Antarctic explorer Ernest Shackleton, one of his crew members, Thomas Orde-Lees, and a food made from fat and meat. In 1914, Shackleton led the Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition, which later became trapped in ice and was forced to live in the elements. Miraculously, all of his crew survived until they were rescued in 1916. Conditions at one point forced the castaways to eat their dogs, hence MCA’s line “I’ll have dog pemmican with my tea.”
Evans, J.J. (“B-Boys Makin’ With The Freak Freak,” Ill Communication)
See “Walker, Jimmy”
Fad, JJ (“Too Many Rappers,” Hot Sauce Committee Part Two)
JJ Fad was an old-school ’80s girl group in the Salt-N-Pepa mold that scored a big hit with the Dr. Dre-produced smash “Supersonic.” It was one of the only female acts signed to Eazy-E’s Ruthless Records.
Fresh, Doug E. (“Sure Shot,” Ill Communiation)
An influential early beatboxer, Fresh can be heard on such hip-hop classics as “The Show” and “La Di Da Di,” both released by Doug E. Fresh & The Get Fresh Crew.
Fruit Stripe gum (“Lay It On Me” from “B-Boy Bouillabaisse,” Paul’s Boutique)
Originally produced by the Beech-Nut company, Fruit Stripe Gum’s slogan “Yipes! Stripes!” has outlasted the brand’s multiple sales to other companies. The Beasties claim to have “more flavor” than Fruit Stripe, which isn’t much of a boast, since Fruit Stripe gum is notoriously weak.
Mr. Furley (“Oh Word?,” To The 5 Boroughs)
The second disapproving landlord—played by Don Knotts—on Three’s Company, who wouldn’t allow mixed-gender cohabitation in one of his apartments, forcing star John Ritter to pretend to be gay so he could live with roommates Joyce DeWitt and Suzanne Somers. He succeeded Mr. Roper. (See also “Mr. Roper.”)
Gnip Gnop (“3 The Hard Way,” To The 5 Boroughs)
A small-scale cousin of Ping Pong—read the name again—made by Parker Brothers in the early ’70s, Gnip Gnop placed two opposing players in a game of button-mashing. Each side had three buttons, which launched six Ping Pong balls through three holes in a divider separating the sides. The first person to get all six balls on the opponent’s side wins. It was reissued in recent years by Fundex: “Ball Flying Button Smashing Action!”
Goetz, Bernie (“Stop That Train” from “B-Boy Bouillabaisse,” Paul’s Boutique)
In December of 1984, New York electrical engineer Bernhard Goetz was hassled on a subway train by four black youths who were either panhandling or engaging in a mugging (depending on who’s telling the story). Goetz shot and wounded all four with an unlicensed revolver, earning him the nickname “The Subway Vigilante” and touching off a national debate on crime, race, and gun ownership.
Goldstein, Al (“Flute Loop,” Ill Communication)
Publisher of the pornographic magazine Screw and host of the sex-themed public-access show Midnight Blue, which ran on New York’s Channel J from 1974 until 2003, when Goldstein declared bankruptcy.
The Gong Show (“Slow And Low, Licensed To Ill)
The Gong Show was a talent show that ran in the late ’70s and early ’80s. Terrible acts would be “gonged” by celebrity judges. The Beasties posit that, had they appeared on the show, they would not have been gonged.
“Gonna break it down to the nitty grit, I’m gonna tell you motherfuckers why you ain't shit" (“Live At P.J.’s,” Check Your Head)
This lyric is similar to an extemporaneous rhyme by Kool Moe Dee during one of the first rap battles with Busy Bee: “We gonna get right down to the nitty grit, gonna tell you a little something why you ain't shit.” (See also“Starski, Busy Bee”)
Grand Royal (“Get It Together,” Ill Communication)
A record label, and later a magazine, headed by the Beastie Boys. The label lasted from 1992 through 2001 and released albums by Atari Teenage Riot, Sean Lennon, Luscious Jackson, At The Drive-In, and others.
Grandmaster Caz (“Long Burn The Fire,” Hot Sauce Committee Part Two)
Also known as DJ Casanova Fly, Grandmaster Caz is a member of the Old School rap group Cold Crush Brothers. Though never credited, he contributed rhymes to the Sugar Hill Gang’s “Rapper’s Delight.”
Grape Ape, (“Flute Loop,” Ill Communication)
A mammoth, purple cartoon gorilla featured in the Hanna-Barbera cartoon The Great Grape Ape Show. Grape Ape later participated in Laff-A-Lympics as a member of the Yogi Yahooies team.
Groove Merchant (“Professor Booty,” Check Your Head)
A San Francisco record store specializing in rare funk, soul, jazz, disco, and any other record you can dance to and probably can’t find elsewhere, Groove Merchant Records is indeed an ideal place to find fresh beats.
HAL 9000 (“The Grasshopper Unit (Keep Movin’),” Hello Nasty)
The sentient on-board computer of the Discovery One in the 1968 Stanley Kubrick film 2001: A Space Odyssey. Over the course of the movie, HAL begins to malfunction in increasingly dangerous and suspicious ways, proving that you should, as the Beasties warn, “never trust a HAL 9000.”
Harary, Franz (“Pop Your Balloon,” Hot Sauce Committee Part Two)
Franz Harary is an American magician best known for making the space shuttle disappear on the television program The World’s Greatest Magic.
Harlem World (“Root Down,” Ill Communication)
An early-’80s MC showcase, Harlem World became home to some of the most famous rap battles of the old-school era (including a still-remembered put-down of Busy Bee Starski by Kool Moe Dee, referenced in the same line).
Harris, Eddie (“So What’cha Want,” Check Your Head)
Harris is a jazz saxophone great, and 1968’s Plug Me In, referenced in the song, came in the midst of one of his most creative periods.
Haze, Eric (“Egg Man,” Paul’s Boutique)
One of the pioneering graffiti artists, Eric Haze was later responsible for the “tag”-style lettering on the cover of the Beasties’ Check Your Head.
Dr. Hfuhruhurr (“Stop That Train” from “B-Boy Bouillabaisse,” Paul’s Boutique)
Steve Martin played the trickily named mad scientist Dr. Hfuhruhurr in the 1983 spoof The Man With Two Brains. In one scene, Hfuhruhurr is pulled over by the Austrian police and asked to complete the most complicated drunk-driving test in the world.
Holmes, John (“Get It Together,” Ill Communication)
The most famous male porn star of the ’70s and ’80s, Holmes was famed for the size of his penis, but he also had off-screen troubles that included drug addiction and a connection to violent crime. Holmes died of AIDS-related illnesses in 1988.
Holmes, Richard “Groove” (“Groove Holmes,” Check Your Head)
This organ-centered instrumental references Holmes, a jazz organist who recorded many songs that sound like “Groove Holmes.”
Hörnblowér’s lederhosen (“The Grasshopper Unit (Keep Movin’),” Hello Nasty)
MCA alter-ego Nathanial Hörnblowér, a Teutonic persona Adam Yauch has adopted for various Beastie-related directing projects. MCA appeared—in lederhosen—as Hörnblowér at the 1994 VMAs, storming the stage during R.E.M.’s acceptance speech; more recently, David Cross played the character in one of the DVD extras for the 2006 Hörnblowér-directed Beastie Boys concert film Awesome! I Fuckin’ Shot That!
Howell, Lovey And Thurston (“The Grasshopper Unit (Keep Movin’),” Hello Nasty)
“The millionaire and his wife” from Gilligan’s Island, here equated with Alex and Marilyn Grasshoff. (See also “Alex and Marilyn”)
Huggy Bear, (“Do It,” Ill Communication)
Character played by Antonio Fargas in the TV series Starsky And Hutch. Huggy had underworld connections, but frequently aided the eponymous police detectives.
“Hurdy Gurdy Man” (“Car Thief,” Paul’s Boutique)
Donovan Leitch’s 1968 hit single “Hurdy Gurdy Man” became a touchstone for psychedelia, despite being creepy as fuck.
Hyman, Dick (“Root Down,” Ill Communication)
Jazz pianist Dick Hyman’s long career includes work on several Woody Allen films. The line “electric like Dick Hyman” references his electronic recordings, which include albums such as Moog: The Electric Eclectics Of Dick Hyman, whose “The Moog And Me” was sampled prominently on the Beck song “Sissyneck.”
The Freak, The Patty Duke, and the Spank (“Finger Lickin’ Good,” Check Your Head)
Three dances that were popular in New York’s disco and nascent hip-hop scenes in the ’70s.
“I’m like Clyde, and I’m rockin’ steady” (“Pass The Mic,” Check Your Head)
Walt “Clyde” Frazier is one of the best, most iconic players in the history of the New York Knicks, leading the team to its only championships in 1970 and ’73. This lyric nods to Frazier’s book, Rockin’ Steady, originally released in 1974.
“I’m Mike D. and I’m back from the dead” (“Shake Your Rump,” Paul’s Boutique)
Tales of the Beasties’ debauchery on the Licensed To Ill tour filtered down from the rock press to the fan-gossip circuit, where they were frequently distorted and rendered apocryphal. One popular rumor passed around during the Beasties’ layoff between albums was that B-Boy Michael Diamond had died (for reasons that changed depended on who was telling the story). In the days before the Internet, that particular rumor had enough legs that Mike D. could joke about it in a song.
Ian and Little Zoe (“Unite,” Hello Nasty)
Ian C. Rogers, a web designer who took over the Beasties’ official site in 1995 and was involved with the unreleased CD-ROM Don’t Mosh In The Ramen Shop. In 1998, he ran into trouble with Capitol for posting high-quality MP3s from the Hello Nasty tour, one of the first instances of making downloadable music available on websites. He went on to work for Yahoo! Music and Topspin, and regularly speaks on the future of digital music. Zoe is his daughter.
Inspector Clouseau and Derek Flint (“The Grasshopper Unit (Keep Movin’),” Hello Nasty)
The bumbling detective from The Pink Panther and a James Bond parody played by James Coburn in the 1966 film Our Man Flint, respectively, both encountered here—along with “three fools,” presumably The Three Stooges—on a malfunctioning TV set.
Jacoby & Myers (“Shadrach,” Paul’s Boutique)
If you’ve got a lawsuit to file and $25 bucks in your pocket—and it’s the mid-’80s—feel free to pop into the law offices of Jacoby & Meyers for a consultation.
James At 15 (“Hey Ladies,” Paul’s Boutique)
First a TV movie, and then a critically acclaimed teen drama, James At 15 ran for only one season on NBC in 1977 and 1978, ending in part over conflicts between the show’s producers and the network, the latter of whom were uncomfortable with the frankness of an episode in which James loses his virginity.
JC (“3 The Hard Way,” To The 5 Boroughs)
Beasties manager John Cutcliffe of Silva Artist Management, presented here as an enforcer who will “send you out a FedEx,” presumably a threatening letter.
Dr. John (“Sure Shot,” Ill Communication)
Stage name of Mac Rebennack, a New Orleans-born singer and songwriter who’s freely mixed styles throughout his career. (The subsequent reference to “ZuZu Man” refers to one of his songs.)
Kenny Rogers Roasters (“Long Burn The Fire,” Hot Sauce Committee Part Two)
A now largely defunct chain of chicken restaurants founded by country singer Kenny Rogers. It was not known to cause any more illnesses than other fast food chains, despite the best attempts of Kramer to convince New York otherwise in an episode of Seinfeld.
“Kick Out The Jams” (“Alright Hear This,” Ill Communication)
Title track from the 1969 debut album of MC5, the Detroit band whose short career would have a major influence on the formation of punk.
Kojak (“Sure Shot,” Ill Communiation)
A crime drama starring Telly Savalas, Kojak ran for five seasons in the ’70s and was instantly recognizable thanks to its star’s signature bald dome, ever-present lollipop, and “Who loves you, baby?” catchphrase. (It was later revived as a series of Savalas-starring TV movies and for a one-season remake starring Ving Rhames.)
K-Rob and Rammellzee (“B-Boys Makin’ With The Freak Freak,” Ill Communication)
Hip-hop team responsible for “Beat Bop,” a rare hip-hop single that began as a feud between Rammellzee and artist Jean-Michel Basquiat and supplied the theme for the influential 1983 documentary Style Wars.
Krush Groove (“Body Movin’,” Hello Nasty)
A 1985 film dramatizing the early days of Def Jam, starring Blair Underwood as the Russell Simmons-like founder of Def Jam analogue Krush Groove. The Beastie Boys were one of many then-Def Jam artists to appear as themselves in the film.
Kugel (“Hey Fuck You,” To The 5 Boroughs)
A type of Jewish casserole made with egg noodles.
Laimbeer, Bill (“Tough Guy,” Ill Communiation)
An NBA great who played primarily for the Detroit Pistons, Laimbeer retired a year before Ill Communication’s release. He also played one of the Sleestaks in Land Of The Lost and later coached the WNBA team Detroit Shock.
Lateef, Yusef (“Alright Hear This,” Ill Communication)
Jazz saxophonist and flutist whose career has frequently incorporated sounds from Indian, Middle Eastern, and East Asian music, as heard on album such as 1961’s Eastern Sounds.
LeVert (“Right Right Now Now,” To The 5 Boroughs)
A purveyor of sexy slow jams throughout the ’80s, LeVert was an R&B trio featuring Gerald Levert and his brother Sean, sons of O’Jays founder Eddie Levert.
“Leggo my Eggo” (“Make Some Noise,” Hot Sauce Committee Part Two)
Slogan used in a surprisingly confrontational, long-running ad campaign for Eggo, a brand of toaster waffles from Kellogg’s.
LeSportsac (“Unite,” Hello Nasty)
A brand of backpacks and luggage. Ad Rock keeps his rhymes in one.
Little Cindy Lou Who (“B-Boys Makin’ With The Freak Freak,” Ill Communication)
A character from Dr. Seuss’ How The Grinch Stole Christmas.
Live At P.J.’s (“Live At P.J.’s,” Check Your Head)
This classic 1971 live album by Kool And The Gang gets an homage in the form of a live-sounding track that borrows the title.
Ma Bell (“Sure Shot,” Ill Communiation)
AT&T earned its Ma Bell nickname thanks to the monopoly it held over the phone industry prior to its 1984 breakup.
“Maggie’s Farm” (“Johnny Ryall,” Paul’s Boutique)
One of the most bracing songs from Bob Dylan’s first “electric” period, “Maggie’s Farm” has been interpreted by some critics as Dylan flipping off the music business and/or the folk scene that nurtured him, which makes it a doubly clever reference for a song about what becomes of a defiant rockabilly star. (“Washing windows on the Bowery at a quarter to four / ’Cause he ain’t gonna work on Maggie’s farm no more.”)
Magilla Gorilla (“Hey Ladies,” Paul’s Boutique)
The title character of Hanna-Barbera’s ’60s cartoon favorite The Magilla Gorilla Show was a simian galoot who got sold to a different owner each episode before being returned, inevitably, to Peebles’ Pet Shop. The show also had a well-known theme song featuring the line, “Take our advice / At any price / A gorilla like Magilla is mighty nice.” (In a probably coincidental bit of Beasties cross-referencing, Magilla Gorilla was voiced by Allan Melvin, a.k.a. Sam the butcher on The Brady Bunch.)
Majors, Lee (“Lee Majors Come Again,” Hot Sauce Committee Part Two)
Lee Majors was a major TV star and unlikely sex symbol in the ’70s thanks to his starring turn on The Six Million Dollar Man. These days he’s perhaps better known as the former Farah Fawcett-Majors’ ex-husband and as the living embodiment of hairy-chested ’70s manhood.
Markie, Biz (“Tough Guy,” Ill Communiation)
One of several references to beatboxer and Beastie Boys pal Biz Markie.
Mason, Anthony (“B-Boys Makin’ With The Freak Freak,” Ill Communication)
A well-traveled NBA veteran, Mason also appeared in the Beastie Boys video “Root Down.”
McCann, Les (“Alright Hear This,” Ill Communication)
Jazz pianist who later crossed over into soul and R&B and scored a hit in 1969 with “Compared To What.”
McCoy, Bones (“The Brouhaha,” To The 5 Boroughs)
Dr. Leonard “Bones” McCoy, originally portrayed by DeForest Kelley in the original Star Trek series.
McGill, Mike (“B-Boys Makin’ With The Freak Freak,” Ill Communication)
Skateboarder who achieved fame for his innovative tricks in the ’80s. He also did stuntwork for the 1989 skate drama Gleaming The Cube.
The Meters (“Root Down,” Ill Communication)
A New Orleans band that helped define the city’s take on funk in the ’60s and ’70s. Its membership includes Art and Cyril Neville.
Modell’s (“3 The Hard Way,” To The 5 Boroughs)
A regional sporting goods chain in the northeast that started in Manhattan.
Mothership Connection (“3-Minute Rule,” Paul’s Boutique)
Parliament’s fourth album was a sci-fi/funk mash-up that influenced its wild stage show for years to come and provided two of the band’s biggest hits: “P. Funk (Wants To Get Funked Up)” and “Give Up The Funk (Tear The Roof Off The Sucker).”
Murray’s Cheese Shop (“Oh Word?,” To The 5 Boroughs)
New York’s oldest cheese shop, located in Greenwich Village.
Neve mic pre (“All Lifestyles” To The 5 Boroughs)
Microphone pre-amps—which boost the signal coming from a microphone—made by Rupert Neve Designs.
Nix Check Cashing (“High Plains Drifter,” Paul’s Boutique)
Looking for a payday loan? Don’t have a bank or an accountant to process your tax refund? Need to buy a bus pass? Live in Southern California? Visit your nearest Nix Check Cashing for all your financial needs.
Norton, Ed (“Hold It Now, Hit It,” Licensed To Ill)
Young’ns might think this passing reference is to the 25th Hour actor, but it’s a nod to Jackie Gleason’s dopey neighbor on The Honeymooners, played by Art Carney. Are Ted Knight and Mr. Ed self-explanatory?
O.E. (“Hold It Now, Hit It,” “Time To Get Ill,” Licensed To Ill)
Whenever the Beasties were drinking in the early days, O.E. was clearly available—that’d be Olde English 800, likely delivered in a 40-ounce bottle. In “Hold It,” the Beasties suggested pairing the drink—malt liquor, 5.9-8 percent alcohol by volume—with Rice-A-Roni, the cheap boxed rice.
Oh, Sadaharu (“Hey Ladies,” Paul’s Boutique)
Sadaharu Oh played for the Yomiuri Giants from 1959 to 1980, amassing 2,786 hits, 868 of which were home runs—an international record for a professional career.
Orange Julius (“Stop That Train” from “B-Boy Bouillabaisse,” Paul’s Boutique)
A staple of American shopping mall food courts for decades, Orange Julius was founded in 1926 by Julius Freed, and began life as a stand selling a special orange drink that combined juice, milk, sugar, and vanilla. The restaurant has since expanded its product line to include smoothies, sandwiches, and hot dogs.
Otis, Shuggie (“Too Many Rappers,” Hot Sauce Committee Part Two)
Shuggie Otis is an eccentric singer, songwriter, and composer best known for penning “Strawberry Letter 23” for the Brothers Johnson. He enjoyed a comeback in the last decade but continues to maintain a low profile while remaining a cult hero to music obsessives like the Boys.
Otis the town drunk (“High Plains Drifter,” Paul’s Boutique)
Hal Smith had two main claims to fame in show business: he was an in-demand voice actor and he played The Andy Griffith Show’s lovable alcoholic Otis Campbell, who slept off many a bender in Mayberry’s town jail.
Pannenkoeken (“Super Disco Breakin’” Hello Nasty)
This large, thin pancake cooked in a pan instead of on a griddle is similar to a crêpe and a breakfast-food staple in Holland, which explains why Ad-Rock eats them there.
Perry, Lee “Scratch” (“Sure Shot,” Ill Communiation)
A Jamaican producer who formed the Upsetter label and operated out of a studio called Black Ark (which later burned down), Perry’s career stretches back to the ’50s. In the ’70s, he helped shape the sound of dub. (Perry would guest on the Beasties’ 1998 album Hello Nasty.)
Popeil, Ron (“Crawlspace,” To The 5 Boroughs)
Inventor, founder of Ronco, infomercial pitchman, and, most famously, the likely originator of the phrase “But wait, there’s more!” The party going on in “Crawlspace” has more product than Popeil.
Powell, Ricky (“Car Thief,” Paul’s Boutique)
Photographer Ricky Powell documented the rise of Def Jam in the late ’80s and hosted the cable access talk show Rappin’ With The Rickster from 1990-96. You do not want your girl to get dicked by him.
Prince Jazzbo (“B-Boys Makin’ With The Freak Freak,” Ill Communication)
A Jamaican musician, producer, and DJ, Prince Jazzbo has collaborated with Lee Perry, Coxsone Dodd, and others.
Purdie, Bernard “Pretty” (“Alright Hear This,” Ill Communication)
Respected session drummer who has toured and recorded with James Brown, Aretha Franklin, Steely Dan, Herbie Mann, Miles Davis, and many others in addition to releasing solo albums. He’s noted for his command of half-notes and for creating the much-imitated drum pattern known as the Purdie shuffle.
Putney Swope (“Shadrach,” Paul’s Boutique)
Underground filmmaker Robert Downey’s radical 1969 comedy Putney Swope stars Arnold Johnson as the token black man on an advertising company’s executive board, who becomes chairman through a voting snafu and decides to storm the mainstream media with radical honesty. To date there has been no sequel, despite the Beastie Boys’ promises.
Qix (“An Open Letter To NYC,” To The 5 Boroughs)
Qix debuted as an arcade game in 1981 but jumped to Atari 5200 platform a year later, which is likely what’s being referenced here. The game involved blocking off space inside a large rectangle without being caught by the unpredictable Qix (lines that bounce around inside the rectangle).
Rhoda (“All Lifestyles” To The 5 Boroughs)
Rhoda Morgenstern Gerard (Valerie Harper), the titular character of the Mary Tyler Moore spinoff Rhoda, which ran 1974-1978. As “All Lifestyles” mentions, Harper’s character lived in a New York high-rise.
Rich, Buddy (“Sabotage,” Ill Communication)
Famed jazz drummer Buddy Rich’s career included stints with Artie Shaw, Frank Sinatra, Tommy Dorsey, Harry James, and others in addition to a long stint as a bandleader. Rich was also known for his short temper, as captured on a series of widely circulated audio recordings.
Riunite (“Right Right Now Now,” To The 5 Boroughs)
You couldn’t turn on television in the ’80s without seeing the cheesy commercials with a passé disco soundtrack for this bargain-priced Italian wine. We hear it’s nice on ice.
Rizzuto, Phil (“What Comes Around,” Paul’s Boutique)
Phil “The Scooter” Rizzuto played shortstop of the New York Yankees from 1941 to 1956, where he was famed for his slick fielding. He went on to become a well-loved Yankees broadcaster—known for his expression, “Holy cow!”—and a spokesman for The Money Store, an organization with plenty of louie.
“Roaches check in but they don’t check out” (“Make Some Noise,” Hot Sauce Committee Part Two)
Slogan used by Black Flag’s Roach Motel brand of roach traps in the ’70s and ’80s.
Robotron: 2084 (“Sounds Of Science,” Paul’s Boutique)
One of a slew of multi-directional shooting games popular in video arcades in the ’80s, Robotron: 2084 is set in a dystopian future where humans wage war against marauding robot hordes. The game was notable for its hectic pace and colorful, pulsating graphics.
Mr. Roper (“3-Minute Rule,” Paul’s Boutique)
Norman Fell spent three years playing the dim, suspicious landlord Stanley Roper on the ’70s jiggle-com Three’s Company, and an additional two years on its spin-off The Ropers, where the working-class retiree clashed with his snooty neighbors.
Rose Royce (“Three MCs And One DJ,” Hello Nasty)
A soul and R&B band active in the late ’70s and early ’80s, best known for “Car Wash.” Its follow-up and second-biggest hit, “I Wanna Get Next To You,” doubles as a come-on from Mike D.
“Runnin’ wild like rats in the Taco Bell” (“Long Burn The Fire,” Hot Sauce Committee Part Two)
This line most likely references a much-publicized 2007 incident in which rats more or less consumed control of a Manhattan combination KFC and Taco Bell.
Sabrett (“She’s Crafty,” Licensed To Ill)
A hot dog brand popular on New York street carts. They probably cost more than a dollar by now.
Sagan, Carl (“Hey Fuck You,” To The 5 Boroughs)
Renowned astronomer Carl Sagan had a sort of catchphrase with “billions and billions of stars,” attributed to his famous Cosmos series. MCA contributes his version of that when he says “I’ve got billions and billions of rhymes to flex,” then makes the allusion more direct by adding, “’Cause I’ve got more rhymes than Carl Sagan’s got turtlenecks.” A Google image search backs up MCA’s point about Sagan’s favorite type of shirt.
Sam the butcher (“Shake Your Rump,” Paul’s Boutique)
Character actor Allan Melvin was a staple of TV sitcoms and commercials from the ’50s through the ’80s, but had his most enduring role on The Brady Bunch, playing a butcher named Sam who dated the Bradys’ maid, Alice (and, undoubtedly, brought her the meat). (See also “Magilla Gorilla”)
Scilken, Dave / Shadi Rock (“Looking Down The Barrel Of A Gun,” Paul’s Boutique / “The Move,” Hello Nasty)
Nicknamed Shadi Rock, Beastie Boys pal Dave Scilken went to high school with Adam Horovitz and sang alongside him in the hardcore band The Young And The Useless. He appeared in the video for “(You Gotta) Fight For Your Right (To Party)” (in which Adam Yauch spat beer in his face) and toured with the Beasties in the early days, serving as their “trim coordinator.” Scilken died of a drug overdose in 1991, reportedly prompting his friends to reconsider their own hard-partying ways. According to “The Move,” he’s waiting at the gates of heaven for the Boys.
Scooby Snack (“Alright Hear This,” Ill Communication)
Snack of indeterminate origin frequently seen in Scooby Doo cartoons. Though ostensibly a dog treat, Scooby Snacks are also enjoyed by Shaggy, Scooby’s human companion.
Secaucus (“The New Style,” Licensed To Ill)
Coming from Secaucus, New Jersey—the boring suburbs—is not nearly as cool as coming from Manhattan or Brooklyn.
Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego (“Shadrach,” Paul’s Boutique)
The Biblical characters Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego appear in The Book Of Daniel, which tells the story of how these three young Jews were so devoted to God that they were willing to be let King Nebuchadnezzar toss them into a fiery furnace—which they survived, thanks to an angel of the lord. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego have been popular figures in song and story ever since, including in a much-covered ’30s jump-jive hit written by Robert MacGimsey.
Shepp, Archie (“Alright Hear This,” Ill Communication)
Jazz saxophonist known for his fiery style and politically conscious material.
Skye, Ione (“Get It Together,” Ill Communication)
An actress best known for co-starring in Say Anything…, Skye was married to Adam Horovitz at the time of Ill Communication.
Smith, Jimmy (“Root Down,” Ill Communication)
Jazz organist Jimmy Smith’s many recordings include the live album Root Down and the track “Root Down (And Get It),” sampled by the Beasties on “Root Down.”
Son Of Sam, (“Do It,” Ill Communication)
Name assumed by convicted serial killer David Berkowitz, who killed six people between 1976 and 1977.
“Sorry, Charlie” (“3-Minute Rule,” Paul’s Boutique)
Charlie The Tuna was a bespectacled, be-hatted hipster fish who outwardly expressed enormous self-esteem, but inwardly was filled with such loathing that he begged to be slaughtered and crammed into a can of StarKist. They made commercials about this in the olden days. They were pretty funny.
“Soul fire, and we ain’t got no water” (“Time For Livin,’ Check Your Head)
Not so much a reference as a direct lift from Lee Perry’s “Soul Fire,” taken from the 1978 album Roast Fish, Collie Weed & Cornbread.
Spinks, Leon (“B-Boys In the Cut,” Hot Sauce Committee Part Two)
Leon Spinks is a boxer famous for having defeated Muhammad Ali to win the heavyweight title and infamous due to his perpetually knocked-out teeth and dramatic fall from grace. Hence the line in “B-Boys in the Cut” about having “holes in my story like Leon Spinks’ teeth”
Spoonie Gee (“So What’cha Want,” Check Your Head)
Old-school MC Spoonie Gee was known as the “love rapper” after releasing his first record, “Love Rap”; later, on “Spoonin’ Rap,” Gee referred to himself as the “metropolitician of the microphone.”
Sprewell, Latrell (“Unite,” Hello Nasty)
A former pro basketball player who in 1997—the year before Hello Nasty came out—choked his Golden State Warriors coach P.J. Carlesimo during practice because he wasn’t “in the mood for criticism.” Presumably, dissing Mike D’s ill technique will result in a similarly off-the-hook reaction.
Starks, John (“Get It Together,” Ill Communication)
NBA point guard who remains the New York Knicks’ all-time three-point scorer.
Starski, Busy Bee (“Root Down,” Ill Communication)
See “Harlem World”
Stax Records (“Too Many Rappers,” Hot Sauce Committee Part Two)
The Motown of the South, Stax was a soul and funk label renowned as the home of artists like Isaac Hayes, Rufus Thomas, Sam And Dave, Carla Thomas, Otis Redding, and Booker T. And The MGs. Its recordings have been sampled endlessly and help provide the sonic foundation of hip-hop.
“Sweetie Pie” (“Root Down,” Ill Communication)
A 1976 single from the jazz fusion group Stone Alliance (which is also namechecked)
Takei, Matt (“Right Right Now Now,” To The 5 Boroughs)
Takei is a Tokyo-based associate of A Bathing Ape, the clothing company founded by Japanese designer and musician Nigo, and the manager of its spinoff label, (B)Ape Sounds. His work with the Beastie Boys goes back more than a decade, when the band’s punk alter-ego, Quasar, played Tokyo and needed to find its signature orange jumpsuits.
Taking Of Pelham One, Two, Three (“Sure Shot,” Ill Communiation)
This John Godey 1973 bestseller about the hijacking of a New York subway train has been adapted to film three times: First as a gritty, Walter Matthau- and Robert Shaw-starring thriller in 1974, then as a TV movie starring Edward James Olmos in 1998, and finally as a slick Tony Scott film starring Denzel Washington and John Travolta in 2009.
Tate, Grady (“Professor Booty,” Check Your Head)
A drummer and singer who has played on tracks for a variety of pop and jazz artists, including Count Basie, Ray Charles, Miles Davis, Ella Fitzgerald, and Quincy Jones.
Three The Hard Way (“3 The Hard Way,” To The 5 Boroughs)
A 1974 blaxploitation film starring Jim Brown and directed by Gordon Parks Jr. (who also helmed Super Fly) about a fiendish white-supremacist plot to taint drinking water with a poison lethal only to blacks.
Toulouse-Lautrec (“The Move,” Hello Nasty)
A late-19th-century French Post-Impressionist painter who had a genetic condition that prevented his legs from growing after he broke them as a child. Consequently, he was only 4-foot-11, which puts him, yes, right around the level of Ad-Rock’s neck
Venom (“Dedication,” Hello Nasty)
A thrash-metal band that, as the song points out, was formed in Newcastle, England.
Victor The Cleaner (“So What’cha Want,” Check Your Head)
This character (played by Jean Reno) from the 1990 French thriller La Femme Nikita is charged with “cleaning” up the bodies left in the aftermath of top-secret espionage operations. In the 1993 American remake Point Of No Return, Victor was played by Harvey Keitel, who also performed a similar role the following year as The Wolf in Pulp Fiction.
Jon Vie (“The Brouhaha,” To The 5 Boroughs)
Jon Vie Pastries, a bakery institution in Greenwich Village for more than four decades. It closed at the end of 2004.
Vigoda, Abe (“Posse In Effect,” Licensed To Ill)
A famously old-looking actor (he just turned 90) who’s best known for playing Sgt. Fish on the ’70s sitcom Barney Miller. There’s no reason to think he’s a particularly good rhymer.
Vu, Tom (“Professor Booty,” Check Your Head)
Vu was a regular on late-night television in the ’80s, appearing in get-rich real-estate infomercials surrounded by beautiful women, fancy cars, yachts, and mansions, hence the line, “I’m like Tom Vu with yachts and mansions”
Walker, Jimmie (“Pass The Mic,” Check Your Head)
In the mid-’70s, Walker was one of television’s biggest stars thank to his role as J.J. Evans on the sitcom Good Times and the catchphrase “Dyn-O-mite!,” which the Beasties sample here.
“Well I’m Dr. Spock, I’m here to rock y’all, I want you off the wall if you’re playing the wall” (“So What’cha Want, Check Your Head)
This seemingly nonsensical lyric references two bygone fixtures of childhood: The famous pediatrician Dr. Benjamin Spock, author of famous books on child-rearing like 1946’s Baby And Child Care, and Off The Wall, the street game where a group of players scramble to catch a ball tossed against a wall.
Whippit (“Shake Your Rump,” Paul’s Boutique)
Whipped-cream cans contain a small cartridge of nitrous oxide that can be inhaled directly for a cheap, hallucinatory high.
Whipple, George (“That’s It That’s All,” To The 5 Boroughs)
Known for his massively bushy eyebrows, Whipple is the society reporter for New York One (NY1), a cable news channel devoted to the city. Ad-Rock imagines Whipple is hirsute in general: “George Whipple on New York One / got a hairy ass and that’s no fun.”
“Why’d you throw that chair at Geraldo Rivera, man?” (“What Comes Around,” Paul’s Boutique)
On a 1988 episode of the syndicated talk show Geraldo, a fight broke out between white supremacists, skinheads, and black and Jewish leaders. In the ensuing melee, host Geraldo Rivera got his nose broken by flying furniture, which was hilarious.
Wingo, Hawthorne (“Lay It On Me” from “B-Boy Bouillabaisse,” Paul’s Boutique)
Hawthorne Wingo played three seasons for the New York Knicks in the ’70s, and in his rookie season helped the team win the 1973 NBA championship, alongside Earl Monroe, Phil Jackson, Bill Bradley, Jerry Lucas, Henry Bibby, Willis Reed, and Walt Frazier.
Wonderama and Snake Cans (“All Lifestyles” To The 5 Boroughs)
Wonderama was a syndicated New York children’s show that aired from the mid-’50s through the mid-’80s. One of its most popular segments was a trivia game based on 10 “snake cans.” Nine of the cans were filled with spring snakes, but one had a fake flower bouquet that earned the grand prize. At the beginning of the song, Mike D boasts that he won the Snake Can game.
Woo, John (“Sure Shot,” Ill Communiation)
A famed director of Hong Kong action films like The Killer and Hard Boiled, John Woo enjoyed a strong underground following in the early ’90s. He would later crossover to directing Hollywood films with mixed success.
Woolery, Chuck (“Hey Ladies,” Paul’s Boutique)
Chuck Woolery began his showbiz career as a musician (releasing the single “Naturally Stoned” with the psych-pop band The Avant Garde), then became a kiddie-show bit player on The New Zoo Revue and a celebrity husband to Jo Ann Pflug before becoming a game-show host in 1975 with the original incarnation of Wheel Of Fortune. From 1983 to 1994, he hosted the dating show Love Connection.
Wooly/wooler (“The New Style,” “Slow Ride,” Licensed To Ill)
From the context (“rolled up a wooly and I watched Columbo”), it’s fairly easy to guess that a wooly (a.k.a. a wooler) is a joint. But did you know that it’s often a joint laced with cocaine? (Oh, and Columbo is a detective show starring Peter Falk that ran mostly in the ’70s.)
The Wop/The Flintstone Flop (“Intergalactic,” Hello Nasty)
The Wop is a jerky, back-and-forth breakdancing move. The Flintstone Flop, originated on the 1965 Flintstones episode “Shinrock-a-Go-Go,” is a dance craze inadvertently created by Fred in which one flops clumsily onto the floor. Mike D is apparently known for doing both.
“Zulu Beat Show” (“Root Down,” Ill Communication)
A radio show hosted by Afrika Islam, “Zulu Beat Show” ran on Staten Island’s WHBI from 1983 to 1985. Mike D has cited Islam’s broadcast of early hip-hop battles as an early influence.