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Over the years, reporters have asked me what my biggest regret in music was and my stock answer has always been, “losing the Beastie Boys.” Of course, now that time has passed, I realize that every mistake I have ever made has brought me to the place I am now, and I’m ok with that. I am proud to say that in spite of some rocky times with the Beasties they remain my niggas – which may not be the appropriate name to call them, but that’s what I have always called them.

I have also read that Rick Rubin and myself “made” the Beastie Boys. Not true. While it can be said that Rick’s collaboration with them was instrumental in producing their early mega hits and I gave them some good advice (like ditching their red Adidas sweatsuits for the clothes they originally wore when they were in punk rock bands), the Beastie Boys, with their unique talent and genuine love of rap, were destined for greatness. I am proud that I was able to ride that wave with them during one of the most exciting times of their career. Another notable contribution I will admit to, is during the ONE time I was in the studio with them I took their perfectly good version of ACDC’s “Back In Black” and probably ruined it by putting silly drums on it.

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Back in the day, they were like all new artists just starting out. They were unsure, insecure and unpolished but nothing got in their way. I would watch them on the Madonna tour ducking banana peels, soda cups and hot dogs nightly, but they just shrugged it off and had the best time of their lives on that stage (in fact, if I remember correctly Yauch had a very GOOD time with Madonna in particular) – actually, the same crowd reaction happened to Kurtis Blow when he opened for The Clash but he didn’t find it quite as comical. 

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When I first met Adam, Adam and Mike, RUN-DMC were their idols and became their mentors. I think the fact that my brother Run, D and Jay believed in them gave them the confidence they needed to make their mark. And to say that they made their mark is putting it lightly- last I read they had sold 22 million albums in the US, 40 million worldwide and have a new one about to drop today. Not bad for three NYC kids with a dream.

Professionally, The Beastie Boys are trailblazers and will go down in history as being pioneers in bringing rap to the mainstream. On a personal level, I have seen them handle fame, divorce, the death of close friends and family members and even cancer with grace. They have never sold out and continue to stay true to their art. They may not be boys anymore, but they are still my niggas.

 

-Russell

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