The real reason Beastie Boys cut ties with Def Jam
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The real reason Beastie Boys cut ties with Def Jam

The Beastie Boys were a phenomenon when they first emerged in the 1980s. Bursting into the mainstream from the streets of New York, the trio, backed by Def Jam, hit the charts and produced one of the highest-selling rap albums of all time, Licensed To Ill.

Comprised of Michael ‘Mike D’ Diamond, Adam ‘Ad-Rock’ Horovitz, and the late Adam ‘MCA’ Yauch, in 2020, the trio released an Apple TV+ documentary entitled The Beastie Boys Story, which, directed by Spike Jonze told the story of how the group rose to prominence. 

Featuring the two surviving members of the New York City collective, Ad-Rock and Mike D reflected on their careers and recalled the fallout with Def Jam co-founders Rick Rubin and Russell Simmons, which ultimately led to their slow decline.

During the documentary, Ad-Rock recalled that after the success of Licensed To Ill and its tour, Russell Simmons began pressuring them to do more shows and other “clown shit”, so he told Simmons, “I quit!” He continued, “During all this madness, we stopped being paid royalties. We made money for playing shows — big shows like Madison Square Garden shows, but zero dollars for the multiplatinum, smash hit Licensed To Ill.

Following the allegations, Simmons took to social media to address the fallout with a statement, writing, “Watching the Beastie Boys documentary ….Emotional roller coaster, beautiful story mirroring the coming of age for many in hip-hop, plus a great story of the three men’s personal evolution and spiritual growth.”

It continued, “They were my dear friends, and we (mostly them) created some inspiring, fun moments. I can’t tell you in words how much I really Loved the documentary. The best parts for me are amongst the greatest memories in my entire life.”

Simmons, who co-founded the legendary label, confessed that part of his actions concerning the Beastie Boys was due to his immaturity and lack of experience writing, “I just wasn’t mature, sensitive or human enough to do better. But now I see these two incredibly talented beautiful people who are music legends, and again I get to mourn the loss of the great Adam (MCA) … #ripadamyauch”

He concluded. “This is a beautiful documentary about the shared experiences of 3 iconic artists and amazing people SEE THIS and celebrate these hip hop, rock and multitalented pioneers’ journey.” You can watch The Beastie Boys Story trailer below.