BY ELI KABERON
I’ll admit it – there was some writers block this week.
Some weeks, the verses I want to cover for Word is Bond come naturally to me. Other weeks, like when we covered the Notorious B.I.G. on the anniversary of his death, there is an obvious tie-in.
This week, there’s nothing. For a variety of reasons, I haven’t had time to listen to much new music lately. And no classic verses jumped out to me as ones I had to cover. I tried to scour the iTunes top songs list, but it was filled with tired acts like Lil’ Wayne and something called Macklemore and Ryan Lewis. So that didn’t help.
Finally, as I was just about to leave the computer to clear my head and try and think of a song, it hit me – this week is the Jewish holiday of Passover, which honors the end of slavery thousands of years ago and the exodus from Egypt. No better time to honor the greatest-ever rapping Members of the Tribe, the Beastie Boys.
Figuring out the best Beasties song was about as difficult as understanding the Passover story, but much more fun. In the end, I went with another story of exodus, one that shows the amazing skill of all three rappers in one crazy that actually is the entire song.
Song: “Paul Revere”
Artist: The Beastie Boys
Album: License to Ill
Verse: Fourth (Ad-Rock, MCA and Mike D)
(Because three rappers trade lines back and forth on this verse, their names are bolded)
Now I got the gun – you got the brew
You got two choices of what you can do
It’s not a tough decision as you can see
I can blow you away or you can ride with me
I said, I’ll ride with you if you can get me to the border
The sheriff’s after me for what I did to his daughter
I did it like this, I did it like that
I did it with a whiffleball bat
So I’m on the run, the cop’s got my gun
And right about now it’s time to have some fun
The King Ad-Rock, that is my name
And I know the fly spot where they got the champagne”
We rode for six hours then we hit the spot
The beat was a bumping and the girlies was hot
This dude was staring like he knows who we are
We took the empty spot next to him at the bar
M.C.A. said, [MCA] “Ayo, you know this kid?”
[Ad Rock] I said, “I didn’t.” – but I knew he did
The kid said, [Mike D] “Get ready cause this ain’t funny
My name’s Mike D. and I’m about to get money.”
Pulled out the jammy, aimed it at the sky
[MCA/Ad-Rock] He yelled, “Stick ’em up!” – and let two fly
Hands went up and people hit the floor
He wasted two kids that ran for the door
[Mike D] “I’m Mike D and I get respect
Your cash and your jewelry is what I expect”
[Ad-Rock] MCA was with it and he’s my ace
So I grabbed the piano player and I punched him in the face
The piano player’s out, the music stopped
This boy had beef, and he got dropped
[MCA] Mike D. grabbed the money – [Mike D] MCA snatched the gold
[Ad-Rock] I grabbed two girlies and a beer that’s cold
Reading this verse without the context of the song may not make any sense; if that’s the case for you, please bookmark this page, go to iTunes and buy the entire License to Ill album. Listen to it four times, then come back and read this again.
The Beasties changed the game for several reasons when the album dropped in 1986. Not only were they white, but they were mixing rock and rap, two genres that had never been connected before. Then they were trading lines and rhymes on the same verse, which was unheard of, and telling funny stories that were so obscured you couldn’t help but rewind and listen to them over and over.
On “Paul Revere”, the trio is telling the story of a fugitive (MCA), a traveling cowboy (Ad-Rock) and a criminal (Mike D). It apparently is an ode to how the three Beasties met each other back in New York. All three face conflicts, but as you can see in the end, they all get what they want – money, beer and girls. Really, what else is there?
As a fan, I enjoy this verse because of how fast they can all jump in and out of the song while keeping the story moving. Each Beastie has their own unique skill-set, but like any good team, they are all better together than they would be separately. Telling a story like this, which is so silly but at the same time in-depth, you get the feeling of just how much fun all three guys are having. They may not have been exiting Egypt after slavery, but “Paul Revere” shows the Beastie Boys leaving the desert, entering a bar and becoming one of the greatest hip-hop acts of all time.