Beastie Boys - Paul's Boutique (20th Anniversary Remastered Edition)

NME.COM feature on Beastie Boys - Paul's Boutique (20th Anniversary Remastered Edition) album including album review, artwork, tracks, listen now, tour dates, discography and more.

Release date: 09 February 2009

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Beastie Boys - Paul's Boutique (20th Anniversary Remastered Edition): Wikipedia Album Entry

Paul's Boutique is the second studio album by American hip hop group Beastie Boys, released July 25, 1989 on Capitol Records. Featuring production by the Dust Brothers, the recording sessions for the album took place at Mario G's Studio in Los Angeles and The Opium Den in Brooklyn, New York from 1988 to 1989, after which the recordings underwent mixing at the Manhattan-based Record Plant Studios.

Paul's Boutique was initially considered a commercial failure by the executives at Capitol Records, as its sales did not match that of the group's previous record, and the label eventually decided to stop promoting the album. The album's popularity continued to grow, however, and it has even been touted as a breakthrough achievement for the Beastie Boys. Highly varied lyrically and sonically, Paul's Boutique secured the Beastie Boys's place as critical favorites in the nascent field of popular hip hop and has been recognized by many as the group's magnum opus. The album's rankings near the top of many publications' "best albums" lists in disparate genres has given Paul's Boutique critical recognition as a landmark album in hip hop.

On January 27, 1999, Paul's Boutique was certified double platinum in sales by the Recording Industry Association of America. In 2003, the album was ranked number 156 on Rolling Stone magazine's list of the 500 greatest albums of all time. The album was re-released in a 20th anniversary package featuring 24-bit remaster audio and a commentary track on January 27, 2009.

Conception

Derided as one-hit wonders and estranged from its original producer, Rick Rubin, and record label, Def Jam, the Beastie Boys were in self-imposed exile in Los Angeles during early 1988 and were written off by most music critics before even beginning to record its second studio album, Paul's Boutique. Following the commercial success of Licensed to Ill, the Beastie Boys were focusing on making an album with more creative depth and less commercial material. The group's previous album had been enormously popular and received critical acclaim among both mainstream and hip hop music critics, although its simple, heavy beats and comically juvenile lyrics led it to be labeled as frat hip hop. The group signed with Capitol/EMI Records, and Paul's Boutique was co-produced with the Dust Brothers, whose extensive, innovative use of sampling helped establish the practice of multi-layered sampling as an art in itself. While the Dust Brothers were set on making a hit record, the duo agreed with the group on producing a more experimental and sonically different record. In total, 105 songs were sampled on the album, including 24 individual samples on the last track alone. The backing tracks were allegedly produced with the intention of being released as a Dust Brothers instrumental album, but the Beastie Boys convinced the duo to use the tracks as the basis of its follow up to Licensed to Ill. The sampling for Paul's Boutique was uncleared, which was only possible before Grand Upright Music, Ltd. v. Warner Bros. Records Inc., the landmark lawsuit against Biz Markie by Gilbert O'Sullivan, which changed the process and future of hip hop sampling.

All of the songs for Paul's Boutique were recorded at Mario G's Studio in Los Angeles, with the exception of "Hello Brooklyn". The fifth part of the album's finale suite "B-Boy Bouillabaisse" was recorded at the apartment building of Beastie Boy-member Adam Yauch, aka MCA, in Brooklyn, New York. The location of recording was credited in the album liner notes as the Opium Den. The recordings for Paul's Boutique were later mixed by Mario Caldato Jr. at Record Plant Studios in New York City.

The album cover folds out to show an (almost) 360-degree panoramic view as seen from the corner of the Ludlow and Rivington streets. As can be seen by the keen eye in the cover and album sleeve art, the address that is supposed to be Paul's Boutique (but can clearly be identified as Lee's Sportswear by the top sign) is on 99 Rivington Street, where Rivington intersects Ludlow Street in Manhattan's Lower East Side (see street view of intersection). The Paul's Boutique awning sign was hung on the building specifically for the cover photo shoot. Until early 2007, the building contained an eatery inside named Paul's Boutique in honor of the album. It was renamed Three Monkeys, and a new bar was opened across the street called Spitzer's Corner.

Critical response

Upon initial release, Paul's Boutique was alienated commercially for its experimental and dense sampling and lyricism, in contrast to the Beastie Boys's previous album, Licensed to Ill. Music critic David Handelman called the record a "rap opera." While major music publications such as Rolling Stone favored the album's unique name-dropping lyrics and the album peaked at #14 on the Pop Albums chart, Paul's Boutique did not equal its predecessor's commercial success with hip hop fans, as it only peaked at #24 on the Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart. The album received a gold certification by the Recording Industry Association of America on September 22 of its release year. Paul's Boutique would go on to sell over 2 million copies by 1999. In retrospect, the album has also gone on to receive much critical acclaim and has been recognized as a landmark album in hip-hop. In a review of the album for Allmusic.com, contributor Stephen Thomas Erlewine summed the initial reaction to Paul's Boutique and praised the density that the album contains:

Musically, few hip-hop records have ever been so rich; it's not just the recontextulations of familiar music via samples, it's the flow of each song and the album as a whole, culminating in the widescreen suite that closes the record. Lyrically, the Beasties have never been better — not just because their jokes are razor-sharp, but because they construct full-bodied narratives and evocative portraits of characters and places. Few pop records offer this much to savor, and if Paul's Boutique only made a modest impact upon its initial release, over time its influence could be heard through pop and rap, yet no matter how its influence was felt, it stands alone as a record of stunning vision, maturity, and accomplishment.
—Stephen Thomas Erlewine

Later in a VIBE interview of all three Beastie Boys, Chuck D of Public Enemy was quoted as saying that the "dirty secret" among the black hip-hop community at the time of release was that "Paul's Boutique had the best beats." During the same VIBE interview, Mike D was asked about any possible hesitation he or the band might have had regarding their overt "sampling" of several minutes of well-known Beatles background tracks, including the song "The End" on "The Sounds of Science". He claimed that the Beatles filed preliminary legal papers, and that his response was "What's cooler than getting sued by the Beatles?"

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