Celebrating 25 years of Super Disco Breakin’: Hello Nasty’s 25th Anniversary - WXPN | Vinyl At Heart

The music world witnessed a monumental shift with the release of Beastie Boys’ groundbreaking fifth album, Hello Nasty. Futuristic and genre-defying, the album blended hip-hop, rock, funk, world music, and electronic elements, solidifying Beastie Boys’ status as one of the most innovative and influential groups in music history. 

By the summer of 1998, Beastie Boys no longer needed to fight for their right to party. They had already conquered New York, crashing into the hip-hop scene in the mid-’80s with Licensed To Ill and Paul’s Boutique, spewing brash and braggadocious rhymes over the punk guitars and 808s that became trademarks of their obnoxious early sound. It was enticing, catchy, and jokingly harmless, and quickly won over the hearts of early hip-hop fans while bridging the gap to punk rockers and metalheads alike. As their notoriety grew, however, the group began to change. Check Your Head (1992) and Ill Communication (1994) brought a sense of maturity to their childish personas, calling themselves out for dumb rhymes and insensitive raps in their earlier records. They even began using their platform to celebrate bands they admired who hadn’t quite reached their level, collaborating with groups like Tribe Called Quest and Bad Brains and celebrating next-gen artists like Luscious Jackson and The Roots. Still, no one expected the left turn that arrived with Hello Nasty

In fact, no one expected another Beastie Boys record at all. It had been over four years since Ill Communication, the longest hiatus between albums since Licensed To Ill (1986) to Paul’s Boutique (1989). So while New York clubs were profuse with speakers blasting the newest Nas, Mobb Deep, and Biggie, the trio of Adam “MCA” Yauch, Michael “Mike D” Diamond, and Adam “Ad-Rock” Horovitz were spending their time on the Lollapalooza tour as well as organizing and playing the Tibetan Freedom concert, all the while performing their hit, “Sabotage” on every award show and late night TV program. 

Beastie Boys - Intergalactic

Hello Nasty (named after the greeting given by receptionist at their publicity department, Nasty Little Man, who famously answered the phone “Hello Nasty”) arrived on June 14th, 1998, during a time when the music scene was ripe for sonic revolution. The trio embraced a new musical direction, incorporating a wide range of styles and an experimental blend of distorted guitars, infectious beats, turntablism, and the group’s signature witty lyricism. The album’s lead single, “Intergalactic,” became an otherworldly anthem, fusing catchy, robotic melodies with futuristic soundscapes and modern production techniques that would pave the way for early 2000’s sampling and beat-making. Other standout tracks, such as “Body Movin”, “Remote Control”, and “Three MC’s and One DJ” showcased Beastie Boys’ mastery of intricate rhyme schemes and their ability to craft hilarious one-liners as a unified group, playing off of one another’s words to outbrag each other. 

Hello Nasty further highlighted the boys’ collaborative spirit through a diverse array of features, with guest appearances from legendary artists such as Lee “Scratch” Perry, Mix Master Mike, and Biz Markie, among others. This collaborative approach also injected fresh energy into the group; as none of the boys hadn’t written their raps together since Paul’s Boutique, giving each song an honest playfulness while still showing how the once keg stand champions had matured since the 80’s. Songs like “Song For The Man” and “Instant Death” reflect this maturity, somberly tackling topics of misogyny after Ad-Rock experienced a man objectifying women on a subway; as well as the notion of death after Ad-Rock’s mother passed away.

Beastie Boys - Song For The Man

Beyond its musical achievements, Hello Nasty left an indelible mark on pop culture. The album’s futuristic aesthetic, innovative production techniques, and genre-blurring approach inspired countless artists across various disciplines, permeating fashion, art, and film. Its impact can still be felt today, as many contemporary musicians such as Blur and Tyler, the Creator continue to draw inspiration from the boys’ eclectic style and rebellious attitude that became a cultural touchstone for a generation. 

25 years after its release, Hello Nasty remains a benchmark in Beastie Boys’ discography and a cornerstone of 90’s hip-hop that cemented their status as unlikely pioneers of experimental music. As we celebrate its 25th anniversary, let this video from their 1998 performance at the CoreStates Center serve as a testament to Beastie Boys’ light-hearted artistic brilliance.

Beastie Boys - Corestates Center, Philadelphia, August 20, 1998
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