Feel Old Now: Beastie Boys’ “Paul’s Boutique” Released 25 Years Ago Today

Paul's Boutique On July 25th, 1989 American hip hop group Beastie Boys & Capitol Records released their second studio album ‘Paul’s Boutique’. Featuring production by the Dust Brothers, the recording sessions for the album took place in Matt Dike’s apartment and the Record Plant in Los Angeles from 1988 to 1989, after which the recordings underwent mixing at the Record Plant in Los Angeles. Subsequent remixes were done at the Manhattan-based Record Plant Studios. The album is noted for being almost completely composed of samples, excluding the group’s vocal output.

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, Licensed to Ill, and the label eventually decided to stop promoting the album. The album’s popularity continued to grow, however, and it has since been touted as a breakthrough achievement for the Beastie Boys. Highly varied lyrically and sonically, Paul’s Boutique secured the Beastie Boys’ place as critical favorites in the hip-hop genre. 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 remastered in 24-bit audio and featuring a commentary track on January 27, 2009. Paul’s Boutique on Amazon | Paul’s Boutique on iTunes

The cover art and gatefold is a photograph of Ludlow Street (as shot from 99 Rivington Street), credited to Nathanial Hörnblowér, but shot by Jeremy Shatan. With the 2009 album re-release, the photo was remastered.

Paul's Boutique

In a contemporary review, David Handelman of Rolling Stone gave the album four out of five stars and complimented its “loose, fun feel”, writing that “are buoyed by the deft interplay of the three voices and a poetic tornado of imagery.” Handelman found the musical samples “equally far-flung” and felt that the album is “littered with bullshit tough-guy bravado, but it’s clever and hilarious bullshit”. In his review for Playboy, Robert Christgau felt that, although it “doesn’t jump you the way great rap usually does,” “the Beasties and Tone-Loc’s Dust Brothers have worked out a sound that sneaks up on you with its stark beats and literal-minded samples, sometimes in a disturbing way”. Christgau commended them for “bearing down on the cleverest rhymes in the biz” and commented that “the Beasties concentrate on tall tales rather than boasting or dissing. In their irresponsible, exemplary way they make fun of drug misuse, racism, assault, and other real vices fools might accuse them of.” He later gave it an “A” grade and asserted, “give it three plays and half a j’s worth of concentration, and its high-speed volubility and riffs from nowhere will amaze and delight you … an absolutely unpretentious and unsententious affirmation of cultural diversity, of where they came from and where they went from there.”

Paul’s Boutique on Amazon | Paul’s Boutique on iTunes

Track Listing

  1. To All the Girls
  2. Shake Your Rump
  3. Johnny Ryall
  4. Egg Man
  5. High Plains Drifter
  6. The Sounds of Science
  7. 3-Minute Rule
  8. Hey Ladies
  9. 5-Piece Chicken Dinner
  10. Looking Down the Barrel of a Gun
  11. Car Thief
  12. What Comes Around
  13. Shadrach
  14. Ask for Janice
  15. B-Boy Bouillabaisse


Paul’s Boutique on Amazon | Paul’s Boutique on iTunes


Beastie Boys – Producer
Allen Abrahamson – Assistant Engineer
Mario Caldato Jr. – Engineer
Mike Simpson – Producer, Turntables, Ensemble
The Dust Brothers – Producer
Matt Dike – Ensemble
Ricky Powell – Photography
Jeremy Shatan – Photography
Nathaniel Hörnblowér – Photography
Dominick Watkins – Photography

Paul’s Boutique on Amazon | Paul’s Boutique on iTunes

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