Check Your Head by Beastie Boys

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Check Your Head by Beastie Boys
Check Your Head by Beastie Boys

Album Released: 1992

Check Your Head ::: Artwork

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1.Jimmy James3:14
2.Funky Boss1:35
3.Pass The Mic4:16
5.Lighten Up2:41
6.Finger Lickin' Good3:39
7.So What'cha Want3:36
8.The Biz -vs- The Nuge0:33
9.Time For Livin'1:48
10.Something's Got To Give3:27
11.The Blue Nun0:32
12.Stand Together2:47
14.The Maestro2:52
15.Groove Holmes2:33
16.Live At P.J.'s3:18
17.Mark On The Bus1:05
18.Professor Booty4:12
19.In 3's2:23


The Beastie Boys change again, ditching the sample-reliant nature of Paul's Boutique and instead playing the instruments themselves, helped out no end by the arrival of Money Mark on keyboards. The Dust Brothers are no longer required, the band produced this album themselves, and did pretty darn well.

"Time for Livin'" is a throwback to their early hardcore days, only married to a much improved sound quality. The trumpets throughout "Stand Together" sound like avant-garde Jazz, before a thumpingly huge beat and groove comes in. Live instrumentation, a genuinely aggressive vocal, distortion, more groove - this is fabulous stuff!

Another indication of the variety present throughout Check Your Head arrives with the mellow "Something's Got to Give", with its strong bassline and echoed mixing effects bearing a dub-reggae influence. The shuffling introduction to "Lighten Up" gives way to funk lines and organ sounds, the vocal is cool, soft, and relaxing in a lying-in-the sun kind of way.

Check Your Head isn't heavy on the rap stuff at all, by the way. There still are examples of it though, and "So What'cha Want" is a particularly good example. The drum sound is loud and heavy, guitar comes in here and there. The drum sound by the way is at once a nod to Led Zeppelin and also a nod to hip-hop of course, always a very percussive kind of music.

"Pass the Mic" has scratching, a few rap parts, funky basslines, and strange keyboard sounds. It sounds like it's about to fall over at any moment but never does, it just keeps me on edge.

"The Maestro" is a real hip-hop gem from beginning to end, with powerful rapping; "Groove Holmes" is a weird instrumental - laidback gentle musical parts are the key to this piece; "Live at PJ's" is simply astonishing - full of tight funk lines, the guitar providing deep ominous notes that blast through your floorboards.

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Rated: album ratingalbum ratingalbum ratingalbum ratingalbum ratingalbum ratingalbum rating
by Reviewer: Adrian Denning (blogging at Adrian's Album Reviews)

Whereas Licensed to Ill was an album for moronic keg-standing college frat boys (and those who realise most of the album was a joke that makes fun of said moronic keg-standing college frat boys, like me), and Paul’s Boutique was for Indie hipsters with interesting haircuts who're down with its goofy 70's TV show references and obscure 70's soul samples, Check Your Head is for pot-smoking college hippies who wear wool hats.

So this is another complete change in artistic priorities for my three favorite skinny Jewish MCs (by the way, the idea of 'trying to expand as artists, and change one’s artistic priorities from album to album' is something that every single rapper bar possibly OutKast, maybe the Roots, should take a cue from), as Mike D, Ad-Rock, and MCA try out the incredibly novel idea of playing their own instruments.

As a result, the Beasties craft a very interesting stew of distorted basslines, marijuana, butt-shaking funk instrumentals, relaxing soul grooves, marijuana, and fuzzy guitar yumminess, all with a smidgeon of interesting rapping on top. And marijuana.

OK, it’s not just one 54-minute soundtrack for Charlie Q. Pothead to go smoke a bowl to, but Check Your Head is a fundamentally different type of music from the Beasties’ first two albums. Those were active, upbeat, and fun releases that made me appreciate how interesting old-school hip-hop could be in the hands of talented MC’s backed by a wonderful production.

If you think about it, “Gratitude” and “So What’cha Want” are essentially the same song - both feature hard hitting drumming, fuzzed-out guitars, a rippin’ solo, and hardcore raps yelled through some sort of distortion device - and they represent the only times where the adrenaline and rump-shaking are turned up to levels approaching the band’s last two albums. The only other moment that might make you sit up and put down your bong being the decidedly mediocre cover of some hardcore punk tune called “Time For Livin’”, possibly the worst track on the album.

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by Reviewer: BRAD