Now here’s a little story I’ve got to tell… about three bad brothers you know so well. A good autobiography can captivate its audience and tell a story on par with some of the greatest novels the world of literature has to offer. A great autobiography can change your perception of its subject, paint a complete picture of whomever you’re reading and give you an investment in them you may not have had before. But the best kind of autobiography is written so well that by the end you feel as if you knew its subject personally. So, allow me to tell you about my friends MCA, Mike D and Ad-Rock.
Beastie Boys Book is a little bit of everything. It’s a light-hearted romp through the surviving members’ pasts. It’s a tearful goodbye to the late Adam “MCA” Yauch, who died of cancer in 2012. It’s a somber look back at the success and mistakes of the band members. But at its core, Beastie Boys Book is about three goofballs finding success (brass) monkeying around in a music studio and having the time of their lives.
The way Michael “Mike D” Diamond and Adam “AdRock” Horovitz recollect their experience puts you in the time, place and mood they describe. You can smell the Mr. Clean that permeated the hallway of Def Jam Records when they first met Russell Simmons. You can hear the cries of Madonna’s confused fans when the Boys accompanied her on tour. But most importantly, you get caught up in the camaraderie shared between the Boys during concerts, recording their career defining tracks or even just clowning around the streets of New York.
I should clarify now, I listened to the audiobook version of this before I read the actual book, which is what I recommend you do. Along with Ad-Rock and Mike D, the audiobook is narrated by a cornucopia of the Boys’ closest celebrity friends, including (but not limited to) Steve Buscemi, John C. Reilly, Rosie Perez, Amy Poehler, Spike Jonze, LL Cool J and Jon Stewart. Though I preferred when the book was read by Mike D and Ad-Rock, the other readers added their own unique flair to the experience.
The best part about this book is its heart. When the Boys recount the past, they do so with hindsight in one hand and nostalgia goggles in the other. There’s something to be learned in every chapter, which is something I appreciate. Whether that be the Boys owning up to problematic behavior, the endless list of song recommendations or bigger ideas about life and people, you’ll never be starved for wisdom at any point in this book.
In fact, I believe this book should be required reading for anybody who wants to create art of any kind. The Boys’ ambition and excitement to make music is infectious and their “why not?” attitude toward creative experimentation is nothing short of inspirational.
The Beastie Boys have been a part of my life for as long as I can remember, and this book only made me appreciate them more. The three bad brothers always occupied a special place in my heart and now Beastie Boys Book has a permanent place on my bookshelf.