Beastie Boys exploded onto the Hip-Hop scene in 1986 with their one and only Def Jam Recordings release, Licensed To Ill. The album was a massive success and put King Ad-Rock, Mike D and MCA on the map. And while Licensed To Ill was full of party anthems and irreverence, ensuing albums Paul’s Boutique (1989), Check Your Head (1992) and Ill Communication (1994) established the group as serious musicians.
The Beasties took a break from recording for a few years but re-emerged with Hello Nasty in 1998 and a new DJ—Mix Master Mike. Once again, the Beasties had another hit on their hands, and Hello Nasty was certified 3x-platinum just two months after its release. Two additional albums—To the 5 Boroughs (2004) and The Mix-Up (2007)—followed, but in 2009, as the Beastie Boys were getting ready to release Hot Sauce Committee Part 1, MCA was diagnosed with cancer in his left salivary gland.
“I just need to take a little time to get this in check, and then we’ll release the record and play some shows,” he said in a written statement at the time. “It’s a pain in the neck (sorry had to say it) because I was really looking forward to playing these shows, but the doctors have made it clear that this is not the kind of thing that can be put aside to deal with later.”
It was the beginning of the end. In April 2012, right before the release of Hot Sauce Committee Part Two, MCA was forced to sit out their induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. It was a sign of what was to come. MCA died a month later. Needless to say, Mix Master Mike, Mike D and Ad-Rock really didn’t want to go to the Rock Hall ceremony. It didn’t feel right.
“During that time, I knew he wasn’t doing so well,” Mix Master Mike tells AllHipHop. “So at the moment, we’re on standby. We were like, ‘Oh, s###. When’s that day going to come?’ It was actually got to a point where it’s like, there’s nothing they could do. We were all in this weird space. And being at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame was a weird space. I really didn’t care. Like none of us really cared about it. We were just going with it.
“And actually, the boys were gangster about that situation. They were asked to be part of the Rock Hall of Fame two or three years prior, and they denied it. I’m just like, ‘Wow, you guys are probably the only dudes that’s denied the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame honor.’ Yeah, that was f###ing gangster.”
At that point, they felt like an induction signaled the end, and they had more to do. While Beastie Boys were ultimately inducted by LL COOL J and Chuck D, MCA’s absence was overwhelming. His death just a few weeks later was paralyzing.
As Mike D, Ad-Rock, Mix Master Mike and all those who loved him grieved, it was unclear how the Beasties would move forward. Understandably, they didn’t. Unlike De La Soul—who lost Trugoy the Dove in February—Mike D and Ad-Rock didn’t continue performing under the Beastie Boys name. They didn’t put out any music nor did they promise an eventual reunion.
“It was just a weird, weird time,” Mike adds. “But yeah, it happened and we were devastated. We just had to adapt to that reality of him being gone.”
While the Beastie Boys career came to an abrupt end, Mix Master Mike wasn’t ready to give up. In July 2021, he had an idea. As he explains, “I pushed to make something happen—and this is something that people don’t know. I actually reached out to Eminem. I called him and Paul [Rosenberg], and I pushed for a song. I had the beat made and everything. It was gonna be Beastie Boys, Eminem and a Mix Master Mike track. Eminem was like, ‘Let’s f###### go.’ I was spearheading this, so I brought it to Mike and Ad-Rock’s attention.”
But Mike D and Ad-Rock had some reservations. He continues, “They were like, ‘It’s kind of weird we don’t have Yauch anymore, so we feel a way that out of respect of Adam that we don’t do it.’ I’m like, ‘What are you talking about? Adam would love this.’ I was really trying to push this. It would have been f###ing insane. I was like, ‘Mike just give me 32 bars. Just rap.’ But I respected their wish to not do it. Our captain is not here anymore. But maybe if I push it again, who knows?
“I was in the process of getting bars from Eminem. He was so pumped cause these are his heroes. I was kind of fulfilling his dream. I’m the gatekeeper of his dream. I felt that was a responsibility on my behalf to present that to him. The great white hopes of Hip-Hop [laughs].”
In the meantime, Mix Master Mike is focused on his upcoming documentary, an audiobook, a book and touring with Godsmack, Ad-Rock is “low-key” scoring films and Mike D is helming The Echo Chamber on Apple Music. If all else fails, Mix Master Mike jokes he has a plan B.
“I had a plot that I would go and kidnap Adam [Ad-Rock],” he says with a chuckle. “I was kind of plotting it like a Grand Theft Auto thing. I was gonna kidnap Adam and bring him to my studio and not bring him home. Like, ‘We’re making music. That’s what we’re doing. I’ll feed you, you have a shower, you have everything you need [laughs].'”
In April, Ad-Rock did tease the possibility of sharing some unreleased Beastie Boys music during an interview with Kreative Kontrol. When asked about the status of Hot Sauce Committee Part One, he said, “We actually have a whole full album. I’m not even kidding.” When pressed for further details, he admitted, “That I can’t disclose, but I can tell you, with all honesty, there is a whole other album.” For now, we’ll just have to wait and see.