The Skills to Pay the Bills: The Story of the Beastie Boys

Alan Light, Author . Three Rivers $14 (206p) ISBN 978-0-609-60478-6

New York rock-rappers the Beastie Boys have seized a remarkable place in music history, as world-famous pop stars, as white MCs and as one of the influential first wave of groups that broke hip-hop, albeit their own special brand of it, into the mainstream charts in the early 1980s. Unfortunately, the group's importance is what makes this shallow, topical effort from former Rolling Stone writer Light so disappointing. For all the great music and groundbreaking pop culture history made by these three Jewish kids (Adam Yauch, Adam Horovitz and Mike Diamond), Light's oral history, supposedly based on many years of the author's own interviews, frustratingly boils down more than two decades' worth of innovation and originality into less than 200 pages of quotations. That's not to say that the book doesn't have some decent information. Light manages to squeeze in both major and minor players in the Beasties' empire, from mega-producer Rick Rubin to Madonna, and he hits all the major beats of the Beasties' careers, as rappers, recording artists and budding impresarios. Still, this is little more than an expanded magazine article. Although at times entertaining, given Light's insider perch, the book is regrettably an unworthy history. (Jan.)

Reviewed on: 12/12/2005
Release date: 01/01/2006
Ebook - 978-0-307-33966-9
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