Beastie Boys

After an almost three-year hiatus to re-establish the business side of their careers, the Boys formed their own Los Angeles-based recording label under Capitol Records called Grand Royal where upon they came up with their third album. ‘Check Your Head’ was the trio’s follow-up release for Capitol and every track was cut at their own G-Son studio in Atwater Village, California for Grand Royal. The band went back to their true punk-roots calling on this album and performed with live instruments. This saw Mike D on drums, MCA on bass guitar and Ad-Rock on lead guitar. Mark Ramos Nishita or ‘Keyboard Money Mark’ on the keyboard and Mario ‘Mario C’ Caldato engineered the record and continued with the group through their careers. The first released single ‘Pass the Mic’ became a dance and club scene hit and the second single ‘So What’cha Want’ reached 93 on the Billboard 100 as well as making the R&B and rock charts. Diverse experimental techniques shone through the album with tracks, ‘Lighten Up’ and ‘Something’s Got to Give’ delving into funk and jazz selections while the high-energy, head banging track ‘Time for Livin’ brought out the hardcore punk-rock that runs naturally through their veins. ‘Check Your Head’ was released in April 22nd, 1992 and went double platinum in the US and peaked at number ten on the Billboard 200 proving no matter how they came at it, the Boys were among the most talented artists hip-hop has ever adopted.

After their last album release they concentrated on building their record label, signing a diverse cultural roster of artists to Grand Royal including former band mate Kate Schellenbach’s Luscious Jackson where the band became the label’s first to release an album, ‘In Search of Manny’ in 1993. Also signed up was Sean Lennon, Ben Lee and Japanese duo Cibo Matto. The Beastie Boys owned and controlled Grand Royal records until 2001 when it went out of business due to mounting financial debts. All assets were auctioned off with the exclusion of any Beastie Boys rights who were owned exclusively by Capitol and Def Jam with their earlier work. During this period with Grand Royal the Beastie Boys also published Grand Royal Magazine.

Grand Royal Magazine

Mike D explained to Select magazine (June 1997) how the idea came about publishing the magazine, "We didn't sit down and think, Hey, lets make a magazine. It was more pathetic than that. We had all of these people writing to us (using the address listed within the Check Your Head liner notes) about the band and we weren't getting back. We had this simple ambition of a newsletter, but then we saw a couple of other bands' fanzines and they were just like, This is what the band is up to now and this is what they'll be doing. We were like no way! So we made it into a proper magazine."

News-stands and book stores across Los Angeles and New York on the winter of ’93 were inundated with requests for the Beastie Boys’ first edition, Grand Royal Magazine, an entirely Beastie production for $2.95. All three boys contributed to writing of the 76 pages of a highly-sought after premiere. The first edition featured a cover story on Bruce Lee with an interview with Los Angeles Laker great, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. The front cover was an illustration of Lee kicking Kareem Abdul-Jabbar from his final film, ‘Game of Death’. A Tribe Called Quest’s Q-Tip was Question and Answered. Former label boss from Def Jam, Russell Simmons was interviewed via the car-phone, Mike D interviewed Pharcyde. The centre-spread featured a four-page artwork by the colour-blind Parliament-Funk’s George Clinton. Issues two and three ran for 140 pages each with more interviews and interesting pulp. The second came with a Biz Markie 7” and third came with an iron-on ‘Grand Royal’ transfer. The 1995 issue contained a memorable piece on the “mullet” hair design. This and the Beasties’ 1994 track entitled ‘Mullet Head’ became the first time the term had been published according to The Oxford English Dictionary which states the term was coined and certainly popularized, by US hip-hop group the Beastie Boys.

By issue number six, the magazine had become more of Mike D's pet-project than the other two members. In the sixth issue Adam Horovitz added a disclaimer stating, "I was a fashion (I mean, super model) in the first issue of Grand Royal. But since then I've had nothing to do with the magazine. So not only are my views and opinions not expressed, but I don't agree with everything in the damn thing." Despite this and the other two boys not participating in the magazine the publication grew to an outstanding run of 50,000 copies by 1993 from initially a limited print. Huge consumer demand saw potential advertisers lining up to splash their names across the pages of Grand Royal’s glossy pages. However deadlines were not being met. The second issue dubbed as the War & Peace edition by the “Generation X” culture took over an extra year before it hit store shelves. This resulted in several editors coming and going from the firm. However the wait for each edition left fans salivating with anticipation, unfortunately advertisers did not see it this way and became furious at the delays. Issues continued to sell at a high rate as the last issue was one of the biggest sellers. The decision to cancel the magazine came from the Beastie Boys themselves. For creative reasons the magazine was turned into an online magazine which soon failed when the novelty wore off. Sadly with the fall of the magazine came the record label soon behind. The few issues printed and released are now considered rare collector’s items, with every article seemingly still fresh and relevant some ten years later. Mike D remarked with a comparison between the magazine and fine wine, "Each issue is designed to age gracefully, with mellow undertones, and a fruity finish…This is an extremely collectable magazine. All the time I hear about people going to other people's houses and reading it. It's phenomenal! Its shelf life is just huge!" – (Select June, 19997)

Ill Communication Era

The Beastie Boys returned to the popular charts with their latest album, ‘Ill Communication’ in 1994 as it debuted on the first spot on the Billboard 200 and second on the Top Hip-Hop/R&B Album charts. The hot single, ‘Sabotage’ became their biggest selling signature cut since Fight for your Right. ‘Sabotage’ was a huge hit on the modern rock charts and the accompanying video spurred the single’s notoriety on even further. Directed by Spike Jonze, it grew into a mini-movie and was well received by MTV who had it on extensive rotation. Each member of Beastie Boys and DJ Hurricane played characters representing a parody of 1970’s police dramas, such as Starsky & Hutch. The clip was complete with tagged on interviews with the characters before and after the feature video, setting it at around twenty minutes playing time, although today it is hard to find the extra original footage outside of the music video itself. The second single, ‘Get it Together’ reached the Top 10 Billboard dance charts and became an urban hit along with the cut ‘Sure Shot’. ‘Ill Communication’ was produced by the Boys and Mario C and released May 23rd, 1994 under Grand Royal/Capitol and became their second triple-platinum hotcake.