|Studio album by|
|Released||July 25, 1989|
|Studio||Mario C's |
The Opium Den
The Record Plant
(New York City)
|Beastie Boys chronology|
|Singles from Paul's Boutique|
Paul's Boutique is the second studio album by the American hip hop group Beastie Boys, released on July 25, 1989, on Capitol Records. Featuring production by the Dust Brothers, the album was recorded in Matt Dike's apartment and the Record Plant in Los Angeles from 1988 to 1989, and mixed at the Record Plant. Remixes were made at the Manhattan-based Record Plant Studios. Aside from vocals, the album is almost completely composed of samples.
Paul's Boutique did not match the sales of the Beastie Boys' previous record, Licensed to Ill, and Capitol eventually stopped promoting it. However, its popularity grew and it has since been recognized as a breakthrough achievement. Varied lyrically and sonically, Paul's Boutique secured the Beastie Boys' place as critical favorites in the hip-hop genre. Often called the "Sgt. Pepper of hip-hop", the album's rankings near the top of many publications' "best albums" lists in disparate genres has given Paul's Boutique critical recognition as a landmark album in hip hop.
On January 27, 1999, Paul's Boutique was certified double platinum in sales by the Recording Industry Association of America. In 2003, the album was ranked number 156 on Rolling Stone magazine's list of the 500 greatest albums of all time. The album was re-released in a 20th anniversary package remastered in 24-bit audio and featuring a commentary track on January 27, 2009.
Derided as one-hit wonders and estranged from their original producer, Rick Rubin, and record label, Def Jam, the Beastie Boys were in self-imposed exile in Los Angeles during early 1988 and were written off by most music critics before even beginning to record their second studio album, Paul's Boutique. Following the commercial success of Licensed to Ill, the Beastie Boys were focusing on making an album with more creative depth and less commercial material. The group's previous album had been enormously popular and received critical acclaim among both mainstream and hip hop music critics, although its simple, heavy beats and comically juvenile lyrics led it to be labeled as frat hip hop. The group signed with Capitol Records and EMI Records.
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Paul's Boutique was produced with the Dust Brothers, whose extensive, innovative use of sampling helped establish the practice of multi-layered sampling as an art in itself. While the Dust Brothers were set on making a hit record, they agreed with the group on producing a more experimental and sonically different record. In total, 105 songs were sampled on the album, including 24 individual samples on the last track alone. The Dust Brothers produced the backing tracks with the intention of releasing them as an instrumental album, but the Beastie Boys convinced them to use the tracks as the basis of their follow up to Licensed to Ill.
Contrary to popular belief, most of the sampling for Paul's Boutique was cleared, but at dramatically lower costs compared to today's prevailing rates. According to Sound on Sound, most of the samples were cleared "easily and affordably, something that [...] would be 'unthinkable' in today's litigious music industry." Mario "Mario C" Caldato, Jr., engineer on the album, said that "we realized we had spent a lot of money in the studio. We had spent about a $1/4 million in rights and licensing for samples." This type of sampling was only possible before Grand Upright Music, Ltd. v. Warner Bros. Records Inc., the landmark lawsuit against Biz Markie by Gilbert O'Sullivan, which changed the process and future of hip hop sampling.
The Dust Brothers had a bunch of music together, before we arrived to work with them. As a result, a lot of the tracks come from songs they'd planned to release to clubs as instrumentals - "Shake Your Rump," for example. They'd put together some beats, basslines and guitar lines, all these loops together, and they were quite surprised when we said we wanted to rhyme on it, because they thought it was too dense. They offered to strip it down to just beats, but we wanted all of that stuff on there. I think half of the tracks were written when we got there, and the other half we wrote together." 
All of the songs for Paul's Boutique were recorded in Matt Dike's living room in Los Angeles, with the exception of "Hello Brooklyn". The fifth part of the album's finale suite "B-Boy Bouillabaisse" was recorded at the apartment building of the Beastie Boy-member Adam Yauch, aka MCA, in Koreatown, Los Angeles. The location of recording was credited in the album liner notes as the Opium Den. The recordings for Paul's Boutique were later mixed by the Dust Brothers at Record Plant Studios in Los Angeles.
On its initial release, Paul's Boutique was commercially unsuccessful because of its experimental and dense sampling and lyricism, in contrast to the Beastie Boys' previous album, Licensed to Ill. It was a commercial disappointment, peaking at only #24 on the Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart. The album received a gold certification by the Recording Industry Association of America on September 22 of its release year.Paul's Boutique would go on to sell over 2 million copies by 1999.
|The A.V. Club||A|
|Christgau's Record Guide||A|
|The Rolling Stone Album Guide|||
|Spin Alternative Record Guide||10/10|
In a contemporary review, David Handelman from Rolling Stone said the songs are "buoyed by the deft interplay of the three voices and a poetic tornado of imagery", featuring "equally far-flung" musical samples on an album that is "littered with bullshit tough-guy bravado, but it's clever and hilarious bullshit".Greg Kot of the Chicago Tribune commended the Dust Brothers' "deft" production and the Beastie Boys' rhymes, which he called "hilarious, vicious, surreal, snotty." Writing for Playboy, Robert Christgau said although it "doesn't jump you the way great rap usually does," "the Beasties and Tone-Loc's Dust Brothers have worked out a sound that sneaks up on you with its stark beats and literal-minded samples, sometimes in a disturbing way". He commended them for "bearing down on the cleverest rhymes in the biz" and wrote, "the Beasties concentrate on tall tales rather than boasting or dissing. In their irresponsible, exemplary way they make fun of drug misuse, racism, assault, and other real vices fools might accuse them of." In Christgau's Record Guide: The '80s (1990), he said the album's "high-speed volubility and riffs from nowhere will amaze and delight you", calling it "an absolutely unpretentious and unsententious affirmation of cultural diversity, of where [the group] came from and where they went from there."
Since Paul's Boutique was first released, its critical standing improved significantly.NME found the album to "still [be] an electrifying blast of cool" in a 1994 review, viewing it as a "younger incarnation" of Ill Communication.Mojo asserted that the album "shredded the rulebook" and called it "one of the most inventive rap albums ever made". In a 2003 review, Rolling Stone gave it five stars and called it "a celebration of American junk culture that is still blowing minds today - even fourteen years of obsessive listening can't exhaust all the musical and lyrical jokes crammed into Paul's Boutique".Mark Kemp of Rolling Stone also gave the album five stars in a 2009 review, calling it a "hip-hop masterpiece". Nate Patrin of Pitchfork Media dubbed it "a landmark in the art of sampling, a reinvention of a group that looked like it was heading for a gimmicky early dead-end, and a harbinger of the pop-culture obsessions and referential touchstones that would come to define the ensuing decades' postmodern identity". In a review of the album for AllMusic, contributor Stephen Thomas Erlewine summed the initial reaction to Paul's Boutique and praised the density that the album contains:
Musically, few hip-hop records have ever been so rich; it's not just the recontextulations of familiar music via samples, it's the flow of each song and the album as a whole, culminating in the widescreen suite that closes the record. Lyrically, the Beasties have never been better -- not just because their jokes are razor-sharp, but because they construct full-bodied narratives and evocative portraits of characters and places. Few pop records offer this much to savor, and if Paul's Boutique only made a modest impact upon its initial release, over time its influence could be heard through pop and rap, yet no matter how its influence was felt, it stands alone as a record of stunning vision, maturity, and accomplishment.
Miles Davis said that he never got tired of listening to Paul's Boutique. Later, in a Vibe interview of all three Beastie Boys, Chuck D of Public Enemy was quoted as saying that the "dirty secret" among the black hip-hop community at the time of release was that "Paul's Boutique had the best beats." During the same Vibe interview, Mike D was asked about any possible hesitation he or the band might have had regarding their overt "sampling" of several minutes of well-known Beatles background tracks, including the song "The End" on "The Sounds of Science". He claimed that the Beatles filed preliminary legal papers, and that his response was "What's cooler than getting sued by the Beatles?"
In the book For Whom the Cowbell Tolls: 25 Years of Paul's Boutique, host of KDOC's Request Video Gia DeSantis discussed the appeal of the album to local markets and the missed opportunity by Capitol Records to take the album over the top. The book was a follow-up to 33 1/3's book Paul's Boutique.
In 2013, music journalists Dan LeRoy and Peter Relic revealed that they had uncovered and restored a tape that represented the Beastie Boys' first recording session in Delicious Vinyl's colloquially named Delicious Studios. Included on this tape are the working versions of six tracks, five of which were produced and utilized in some form on Paul's Boutique, with one track, entitled "The Jerry Lewis," being omitted. Mike D was presented with the restored version of the omitted track in late 2013, and when asked if it warranted an official release his response was, "Probably not this year." After widespread publication of the story, "The Jerry Lewis" has become a highly sought-after "lost track" among dedicated Beastie Boys fans.
All tracks written by Beastie Boys and the Dust Brothers (Mike Diamond, Adam Horovitz, Adam Yauch, John King, Mike Simpson).
|1.||"To All the Girls"||1:29|
|2.||"Shake Your Rump"||3:19|
|5.||"High Plains Drifter"||4:13|
|6.||"The Sounds of Science"||3:11|
|9.||"5-Piece Chicken Dinner"||0:23|
|10.||"Looking down the Barrel of a Gun"||3:28|
|12.||"What Comes Around"||3:07|
|14.||"Ask for Janice"||0:11|
|Japanese bonus tracks|
|17.||"Dis Yourself in '89 (Just Do It)"||3:29|
|Australian Albums (ARIA)||65|
|UK Albums (OCC)||44|
|US Billboard 200||14|
|US Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums (Billboard)||24|