Hey Ladies

Album: Paul's Boutique (1989)
Charted: 76 36

Songfacts®:

  • This wild throwback romp finds the Beastie Boys on the prowl. Lyrically, it's a mash-up of pickup lines, micro-stories, and pure nonsense. It embodies the zany fun and clever wordplay the group became known for, as their three MCs take turns dishing out increasingly outrageous rhymes.
  • "Hey Ladies" was the first single from Paul's Boutique, the group's first album with Capitol Records. The Beastie Boys started on Def Jam, but fought with the label after their first album, Licensed to Ill, was released. Russell Simmons of Def Jam was irate when the group left, since he felt that he molded the group into a hit recording act, only to have them ungratefully jump to a major label in breach of their contract (they owed seven more albums). Simmons also felt Def Jam gave them credibility in the black community, which was essential to any rap act.

    The Beastie Boys countered that Def Jam failed to pay them anywhere near what they were owed, and that Simmons was taking far too much credit for their success. Paul's Boutique was a very big deal because it determined the whether the Beastie Boys were going to be a short-lived novelty act (not a stretch considering their big hit "(You Gotta) Fight for Your Right (to Party)") or a group with staying power. The album didn't sell very well compared to their first effort, but it earned them the acclaim they badly needed at that point and paved the way to their Hall of Fame career.
  • The Beastie Boys were still in the mode of "sample first, figure out clearance later" when they put this track together with their producers, the Dust Brothers. The main sample on this track is from "Machine Gun" by the Commodores, but it also uses bits of "Jungle Boogie" by Kool and the Gang, "Shake your Pants" by Cameo, and "Hey DJ" by Malcolm McLaren and the World Famous Supreme Team (the "get funky" line). The "Hey Ladies" line come from Kurtis Blow on his 1983 cut "Party Time."
  • The line, "I've got more hits than Sadaharu Oh" is one of the most popular in the Beastie Boys lyrical lexicon. Sadaharu Oh was a Japanese baseball player who hit 868 home runs in the Japanese league.
  • Adam Yauch (MCA) directed many of the group's videos around this time, but the "Hey Ladies" video was directed by Adam Bernstein, who also did "Baby Got Back" by Sir Mix-A-Lot and "Love Shack" by The B-52s.

    The "Hey Ladies" video is a throwback to the '70s, which is congruent with the samples. The automobiles and fashions are from that decade, and the dance club scenes are reminiscent of the disco-era film Saturday Night Fever.

    The Beastie Boys tracked down Bernstein after seeing some videos he did for They Might Be Giants. To develop the concept for the "Hey Ladies" clip, they watched a bunch of '70s movies (including Dolemite and Shampoo) and did an homage, shooting at various locations around Los Angeles. Since the group had just signed with Capitol, they had a 6-figure budget for the video, which allowed them to blow some cash on bits like the painted lady forming a clock face to accompany the line, "your body's on time."

    Bernstein went on to direct several episodes of the TV series Breaking Bad.

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