No Sleep Till Brooklyn

Album: Licensed to Ill (1986)
Charted: 14
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Songfacts®:

  • This song and its video are a send-up of heavy metal music, playing up the ridiculous costumes, excessive hairspray and tendency for bands to take themselves just a tad too seriously in a very Spinal Tap way. The title is a play on "No Sleep 'til Hammersmith," the title of a 1981 Motörhead live album.
  • In order to spoof a heavy metal song, the Beasties needed a heavy guitar riff. That came courtesy of Kerry King, the guitarist for Slayer. Producer Rick Rubin was working with both Slayer and the Beastie Boys (each group was signed to Rubin's Def Jam Records), so he had King come down the hall and put down a guitar part, which he played intentionally out of tune in parts. King also appeared in the video: look for him pushing the gorilla off the stage.
  • Adam Yauch (MCA) came up with the title. He had it as part of another band he was in, and when Rick Rubin heard it, he suggested they use it for a Beastie Boys song.
  • The Beasties put the lyrics together for this one by hanging out with their producer Rick Rubin and throwing out lines to make each other laugh. They spent a lot of time at the New York club Danceteria, which provided plenty of inspiration. After a while they took the best lines and pared them down to create the final lyrics.
  • The video was directed by Ric Menello and Adam Dubin, who did the wildly successful clip for "(You Gotta) Fight for Your Right (to Party)." That one was made for $20,000 and shot in an apartment with the group's friends, but now the band was successful, there was more oversight on "Brooklyn." Menello played the club owner who rejects the Beasties in the intro; Dubin was in the gorilla suit; the sexy girl was Ruth Collins, a B-movie actress; Simone Reyes, who was a receptionist at Def Jam, also makes an appearance. The video also featured Kerry King, who was shot from below to make him appear larger.

    In the book I Want My MTV, Durbin says, "The bloom was off the rose by that point. The good feeling that was on the set of "Fight for Your Right (to Party)" was not there. I could feel the tension."
  • According to Rick Rubin, Kerry King wasn't thrilled about working on this track. "I don't think he liked the song," Rubin told Rolling Stone. "I don't think he really spoke to the Beasties' aesthetic. They didn't really like him either. It was kind of mutual."
  • In the Beastie Boys Book, Mike D (Michael Diamond) says the lyric is "a fantasy version of us as clichéd rock stars." Part of the joke is that Brooklyn, at the time, was far from glamorous, known more for murders than microbrews.
  • Jay-Z performed this song to open his set at the All Points West festival in 2009 in tribute to the Beastie Boys, who couldn't make it because MCA had been diagnosed with cancer and needed surgery. Jay grew up in Brooklyn and often mentions the borough in his raps.
  • This plays in a 2016 commercial for the movie Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows that first aired during the Super Bowl.

Comments: 5

  • Brooklyn Ex Pat from MinnesotaBrooklyn is God's Country
  • Dave from Greer, Sc"Kerry King "intentionally" played out of tune... and he's been doing it ever since."

    Lol, it's funny because it's true
  • Luke from Manchester, UkKerry King "intentionally" played out of tune... and he's been doing it ever since.
  • Camille from Toronto, OhA fabulous anthem for the 1980's.
  • Jerry from Brooklyn, NyThis song is awsome, and if u like it enough u can play it on Guitar Hero World tour!
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