A dome-to-dome dissertation on Milk, drugs & German techno with the Beastie Boys’ Adam “King Ad Rock” Horovitz.
Words: Chairman Mao
Originally published in ego trip #13, 1998
One of my favorite slice-of-life hip-hop memories took place back in 1992 within the crowded aisles of Manhattan’s original Rock & Soul Electronics on Seventh Avenue in the shadow of Madison Square Garden. While deciding between a Chi Ali and Fu-Schnickens single with which to blow my last $3.99, I overheard the following remark from a fellow rap music connoisseur perusing the latest wax on the racks.
“The Beastie Boys?!?” he stammered incredulously, eyeing the group’s newly released Check Your Head black-and-white gatefold cover. “Yo, I ain’t heard from them n*ggaz in awhile!”
Homeboy would still be shaking his head in disbelief had he been privy to a peek into the “voice-of-a-generation” icon status the Boys have catapulted themselves to today. But while freeing Tibet, running record labels, magazines and retail outlets, and generally behaving politically correct is hard, Gatorade-swilling work for Messrs. Adam Yauch and Mike Diamond, their friend and bandmate, Adam Horovitz, remains the team’s dark horse, its soulful rebel, the blackest white Beastie.
Technologically, Ad Rock’s fine whine has touched records from artists like EPMD and The Beatnuts through the magic of sampling. Vocally, his high-toned influence can be detected in such go-for-broke hip-hop shriekers as Audio Two’s Milk D, M.O.P.’s Lil’ Fame, and The Pharcyde’s Booty Brown. Lyrically, his references to grand groovesters of the pop culture spectrum like Grady Tate, Sam the Butcher and Jack Kerouac are the stuff of legend. No one trick Beastie, the “Benihana of the SP-1200” even experimented with techno music on last year’s BS 2000 project. To paraphrase himself on ’92’s “Professor Booty,” Ad Rock’s the master blaster drinkin’ up the Shasta. His voice sounds sweet cuz it hasta.
Back in the New York groove to promote the Beasties’ fifth aural adventure into the worlds of rap, hippie-rock, electro-funk and salsa, Hello Nasty (we’d suggest you go buy it, but you’ve probably already got it on layaway at Coconuts), Adam H. discussed a wide range of poignant subject matter with the sort of candor only he can muster. One lone Beastie Boy he be. Here’s a little story he’s got to tell...
Please share with us one or two of your favorite Biz Markie stories.
Ad Rock: There’s too many. There’s a million. The first time we met Biz, he asked us if there was “a candy store” nearby. It’s like, I haven’t [ever] seen a candy store. Candy stores went out like in the ’40s.
Then he was hungry at the end of the night one time when we were in L.A. and he wanted some food. So I was tryin’ to think of all the late night restaurants that were open. I was like, “There’s this restaurant and that one.” And he was like, “Nah, I wanna go to 7-Eleven.” I was like, “Yo, there’s different spots. We’re in the car, we can go anywhere!” But he really preferred to go to 7-Eleven. He really wanted two hot dogs, a burger, chips, a Big Gulp, and a burrito. I mean, this guy ordered so much nasty food! And the guy behind the counter lost it on Biz cuz it was right around when “Just A Friend” was big. Biz had a shopping cart full of shit at four in the morning.
Let’s discuss some of your other musical influences. On the new album, you guys have a song called “Instant Death,” which is also the name of an album by jazz saxophonist Eddie Harris. And on Check Your Head, of course, you say, “Just plug me in like I was Eddie Harris...” Did you ever get a chance to meet the man before he passed away?
Ad Rock: Nah, I would’ve like to let him know that [I was a fan]. Did you ever hear his comedy record?
The Reason Why I’m Talking Shit? Yeah!
Ad Rock: I love that. It is made up of the parts in between his songs at this club [he’s performing at]. He’s like, “The manager of this establishment wants me to announce the name of the band comin’ on later. Who they are, I don’t give a fuck. I could care less. As far as I’m concerned, when I leave they could burn this place down.” He’s talkin’ shit about the record company. Funny shit.
Actually, I had a sample from that record on this [Beasties] record and we had to take it off cuz the record company wanted a lot of money for it. In a way it’s worth it because if it helps the artist, it’s good to do and all that. But you know his family wasn’t gonna get the money. Like all the old, rare shit - all the really good basslines and grooves - those musicians are never gonna get the money. It’s like the big record company that bought the smaller record company that bought that record company - their lawyer is gonna get the money. So it was kinda like, fuck it.
What about The Beatles? The Beasties recorded a version of “I’m Down” and couldn’t release it, yet you had other Beatles samples that were on Paul’s Boutique.
Ad Rock: That’s an interesting thing to bring up. Right now in Europe, this German guy did a techno dance version of “Fight For Your Right To Party.”