The Beastie Boys have put together a short film to mark the 25th anniversary of “Fight for Your Right to Party” — a song they admit is awful, even though it became a novelty hit. However, they clambered through the window of opportunity it provided to produce some of the best old school hip hop. It’s easy to be nostalgic for it now: the 70s funk-based samples meant old school was already retro when it was still new school. It also meant that the gritty, grifter’s limbo that is New York City (at least as depicted in movies from the 1970s, like Martin Scorcese’s Mean Streets) endured as a cultural whetstone. And then there is the playful cheekiness of the music that’s been missed since the arrival in the mid-90s of ganstas, bling and hos. It was, relatively speaking, a more innocent time.*
(*Not intended to be a factual statement.)
The film is a vanity project, but a pretty impressively executed one, worth seeing just for the cast and the lineup of cameos, including: Stanley Tucci, Susan Sarandon, Steve Buscemi, Shannyn Sossamon, Kirsten Dunst, Ted Danson, Rashida Jones, Rainn Wilson, Amy Poehler, Mary Steenburgen, Will Arnett, Adam Scott, Chloe Sevigny, Maya Rudolph, David Cross, and Orlando Bloom.
The story is set in 1986, and the Beasties are played by Seth Rogen, Elijah Wood and Danny McBride. After a day of casual vandalism and dedicated drinking, they meet up with their future selves, played by John C. Reilly, Jack Black and Will Ferrell. Things happen. There’s a showdown. A dance mat is cumbersomely rolled out. The real Beasties turn up as cops to put the beat down on the entire assembly.
After the jump, a great video that captures old school rap just as it was about to be superseded altogether, 1994’s “Root Down.” You’ll probably want to see it, if only for the vintage breakdancing and graffiti.
The Beastie Boys’ new album, The Hot Sauce Committee Part 2, was released on Tuesday.
Finally, the literary antecedent to rap is “flyting,” which Frye regularly refers to. In “Music in Poetry,” he characterizes it as a poet’s “instinct to use his technical resources in cursing somebody,” in which “a very intricate rhyming and metrical scheme is completely subordinated to the pounding accent.” That covers it nicely.