The surviving members of everyone’s favourite white, middle-class hip-hop jokers have put together a monster of a book combining oral history, photography, comic strips and even recipes — chicken gizzard tacos, anyone? Amy Poehler contributes a review of the videos, the fashion maven André Leon Talley gives a gloriously dismissive commentary on the band’s early look, and the whole thing is infused with the kind of clownish irreverence for which the group are celebrated — although tinged with sadness, being in tribute to founder member Adam Yauch, who died in 2012 aged 47.
Few books took a timelier Polaroid than the highly illustrated Beastie Boys Book (Faber Social), in which other contributors (most memorably, ousted Beastie Girl Kate Schellenbach) vied with recipes and memoir.
Memoir, graphic novel, cookbook, photo-journal, love letter, elegy: this vast, unwieldy, marvellous book, narrated, like the band’s songs, scatter-gun style by the two surviving Beastie Boys, is as original, uncategorisable and attention-grabbing as their music. Telling contributions from the likes of Wes Anderson and Amy Poehler gild an already rich confection, in which the fact that three white boys from New York scored the biggest rap album in history is but one startling detail in an extraordinary and unlikely career.
...another treat: a compendium of photos, cartoons, recipes, annotated mixtape tracklistings and first-person storytelling from the two surviving band members, Adam Horovitz and Mike Diamond. They are both insightful about their group’s shifting music and are expert yarn-spinners, homing in on telling vignettes rather than doling out a straightforward history: the saga of Bob Dylan attempting to co-opt the Beastie Boys into performing at a pro-smoking benefit show is particularly great. But the 2012 death of their bandmate Adam Yauch hangs over their story, so that even the book’s most preposterous tales are shot through with yearning and melancholy.