Wednesday, November 30, 2022

"Hey Ladies" by Beastie Boys

Song#:  3989
Date:  08/05/1989
Debut:  67
Peak:  36
Weeks:  10
Genre:  Rap

Pop Bits:  This rap trio's debut album License to Ill made a big splash. Not only did it spend five weeks at #1, but it was the first rap album to top the chart. It got a boost thanks to the #7 Pop hit "(You Gotta) Fight for Your Right (To Party)" along with its associated video that became an MTV favorite. During its initial run, the LP would sell over 4 million copies. Over time it would eventually hit the diamond mark (10+ million). Their follow up was highly anticipated, but it would be delayed due to issues at their label, Def Jam, and producer Rick Rubin. The trio would end up leaving the label and signing on with Capitol. They were hoping to make a more experimental album rather than capitalize on the more commercial party "frat hip-hop" that their debut LP got tagged as. In other words, they wanted to prove themselves as artists and not just the flavor of the day. They got hooked up with the Dust Brothers (Mike Simpson and John King) who was having success with Tone Lōc. The Brothers had already been working on some tracks that were dense with beats and samples. Their intent was to release them as instrumentals for clubs. However, the Beasties heard them and wanted to rap over the tracks as they represented the more experimental sound they were looking for. These tracks along with new ones composed by the Beasties and the Dust Brothers would make up the album Paul's Boutique. It would be released in the summer of '89 along with this first single. The track didn't fully catch fire stopping inside the Pop Top 40 while getting to #18 Modern Rock and reaching #15 Dance (in combo with "Shake Your Rump"). Without a bigger hit, the album stalled quickly at #14 and could only manage to go gold (it would go double-platinum in 1999). Although it was a commercial disappointment, critics appreciated the album and over the years it has grown in stature. Paul's Boutique has been featured on several "best of" lists including coming in at #125 on Rolling Stone's 500 Greatest Albums of All Time list.

ReduxReview:  I admit that Paul's Boutique threw me for a loop. Like many other folks, I was expecting another LP that had some further MTV-friendly commercial rap tracks that would take over the airwaves. After reading some very good reviews I bought the CD. I just wasn't sure exactly what was going on when I listened to it. It was certainly different and I was having a hard time figuring it all out. I think I listened to it twice and set it aside. That, of course, was my mistake. I should have spent more time taking it all in and appreciating what was going on. It wasn't until years later that I finally went back to the LP and was able to hook into it. "Hey Ladies" was the best option for a single and it did fairly well, but it wasn't another "Fight for Your Right," which I think a lot of folks were expecting. Even though it pretty much flopped when released, Paul's Boutique became an influential classic that helped shape what was to come from the Beastie Boys, which for me includes the bonkers brilliance of 1994's "Sabotage" and its awesome music video.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  The Dust Brothers' layering of samples to help form a track wasn't necessarily a new concept, but their technique took sampling to a new level and their work fit in perfectly with what the Beastie Boys were wanting to do. For Paul's Boutique, the Brothers would end up using over 100 samples in the tracks. They would use at least 15 separate samples just in "Hey Ladies" including ones from Sweet ("The Ballroom Blitz"), Kool & the Gang ("Jungle Boogie"), and Deep Purple ("Hush"). Apparently, around $250k was spent on clearing the samples, which ended up being a bargain at the time. In 1991, a court case that said sampling without permission is copyright infringement changed everything. Although the Beasties and Dust Brothers obtained permission for the usage of samples on Paul's Boutique, many other artists used samples without permission. After the court case ruling, artists were basically put on notice to seek permission for any sample or face litigation. With that, then publishers started to charge fees or request royalties for anyone seeking sample permissions. These fees were not cheap and it left many artist barely able to pay for one sample in a song. It basically brought an end to the days of multi-layered sampling.


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