By 1985 the band embarked on a year of touring their act across the country. They first opened as a support act to Madonna on her Like a Virgin tour which took them across North America. DJing for the Boys on their opening night of the tour was their producer Rick Rubin under the alias, DJ Double R. Other that Rick, the New York DJ, Doctor Dre (later from MTV’s Doctor Dre and Ed Lover) was their resident DJ through the tour before DJ Hurricane took over duties. Later in the year they had their own audiences when they shared the stage with Def Jam label mates Run DMC, LL Cool J, Whodini and Timex Social Club on the Raising Hell tour. Their exposure gave them a greater notoriety and their latest hit ‘Hold it Now, Hit It’ made Billboard’s national R&B chart as well did ‘She’s On It’ from the ‘Krush Groove’ soundtrack continuing their true roots in hard rock with rap fusion. With this now-synonymous style, they brought out the double A-side 12” with ‘Paul Revere/The New Style’ which hit the streets at the end of ’85 and became another R&B dance hit.
In 1986 the album ‘Licensed to Ill’ was recorded and produced by Rick Rubin and released later that year in November Their debut album was a commercial smash-hit and was declared the highest-selling rap album of the ‘80s and became the first rap album to peak number one on the Billboard album chart where it sat proudly for five weeks straight. It also hit second spot on the Top Hip-Hop/R&B Albums charts. This became Columbia Records’ fastest debut selling hotcake to date going over five times platinum. The Source put in their 100 Best Rap Albums listand Rolling Stone placed it at number 217 of the Top 500 Greatest Albums of All-Time list in 2003. The album’s first single ‘(You Gotta) Fight for Your Right (to Party),’ reached the seventh spot on the Billboard Hot 100 when it dropped and the video, directed by Ric Menello became a classic for MTV. The song was written intentionally as a parody for the party attitude of rock hits of the same era, ‘Smokin' In The Boys' Room’ and ‘I Wanna Rock’ but unfortunately the irony of this was lost to most listeners. Mike D commented that most of their fans rocking to the hit were lost on the fact that the song was a spoof on them. Despite this the song was a definitive piece and regarded as being their most famous track. It was later named one of The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame's 500 Songs that Shaped Rock and Roll. Ironically again despite making the group so popular the Boys have expressed a dislike for the song in the linear notes of their 1999 ‘Sounds of Science’ anthology collection. MCA said he thought the song sucks and they have not performed the song live since their 1987 Licensed to Ill tour. While the Boys were producing the track, ‘No Sleep till Brooklyn’ Def Jam’s Rick Rubin was simultaneously working on heavy metal group, Slayer’s ‘Reign in Blood’ album which was originally released on Def Jam. Rubin invited Kerry King from the band to play lead guitar on the track for the Beastie Boys and appear in the music video which was a spoof to heavy metal with the name itself deriving from Motorhead’s ‘No Sleep till Hammersmith’ album title. All tracks from the album were written and produced by the Boys and Rick Rubin with the exception of two songs which was co-written by label mates Run DMC’s Darryl Lovelace (McDaniels) and Joey Simmons, ‘Paul Revere’ and most notably ‘Slow and Low’. Later in their ’99 Anthology booklet MCA stated that the track was originally a Run DMC recording destined for their ‘King of Rock’ album but for one reason or another did not make the final cut. Being a favourite of the Beasties on the album’s original sessions they asked permission from Run DMC to cover the track for their own use with only two lines altered to suit them. These two being: "D sees real well 'cause he has four eyes" changed to "White Castle fries only come in one size", and one line stating Run-D.M.C.'s name, changed to "We're the Beastie Boys, not Cheech and Chong". The Beasties credited Run DMC with writing the track on the same anthology album sleeve. Beasties took their controversial Licensed to Ill tour globetrotting in ’87. Considered controversial due to the concerts having females from the crowd dancing in cages and an inflatable giant motorized penis not unlike the one used by The Rolling Stones in the 1970s. The tour was plagued with arrests and lawsuits accusing the band of provoking the crowd. In Great Britain alleged insults towards leukemia victims all but resulted in the band being kicked out of the country despite the Boys claiming the incident was blown out of proportion by the media when the actual event was over the Boys politely declined to sign an autograph.
Grand Royal Boys
The Beastie Boys marked their follow-up album, ‘Paul’s Boutique’ with a more experienced approach. Branching out from under the Def Jam banner, the second album was recorded under Capitol Records whom they would remain with to date. A falling out between Def Jam executives, Russell Simmons and Rick Rubin over the direction of the record company left the Beastie Boys packing for a new home. They left for the west coast’s Capitol, right on Hollywood & Vine. This move left their album sales at a considerable slump for Capitol Records compared to their first joint and executives pulled promotion on the album. Produced by Matt Dike and the Dust Brothers in 1988, they provided an innovative and extremely heavy array of samples to produce the record. This artistic explosion is today considered to be the Beastie Boys’ greatest accomplishment and one of the strongest produced albums of all-time. It contains one of the largest catalogues of 100 plus cleared samples noted. Before a landmark lawsuit against rapper Biz Markie by Gilbert O’Sullivan which forced new sampling laws subsequently changing the legal climate of hip-hop forever, their was no law to stipulate permission or clearances for the use of another artist’s music. Therefore ‘Paul’s Boutique’ production sampling was not cleared. Today with new stricter sampling laws the amount of clearances this album had to make would make this feat almost impossible and too costly to produce today. It reached number fourteen on the Billboard 200 and tenth on the Top Hip-Hop/R&B charts. The lead single, ‘Hey Ladies’ peaked at 36th on Billboard's 100 and 10th on the R&B charts. The album was released July 25th, 1989 but despite its poor initial commercial reception the album would sell over one million units in the US. In 2003 Rolling Stone marked the album at number 156 on the 500 Greatest Albums of All-Time.