Rhymin & Stealin

Album: Licensed to Ill (1986)

Songfacts®:

  • Beastie Boys opened their Licensed to Ill album with this track, which samples John Bonham's drum introduction from Led Zeppelin's "When The Levee Breaks." Producer Rick Rubin had previously explored the crossover between Rock and Hip-Hop in his work with Run–D.M.C., most famously with the cover of Aerosmith's "Walk This Way"."

    "Rhymin & Stealin" also samples Black Sabbath's "Sweet Leaf" and The Clash version of "I Fought The Law."
  • Beastie Boys were the first artists to sample the drums on "When The Levee Breaks," but many others have gone on to do so, including Björk on "Army Of Me," Eminem on "Kim," Enigma on "Return To Innocence" and Sophie B. Hawkins on "Damn, I Wish I Was Your Lover." The Beasties returned to the Zeppelin tune again for their 1989 Paul's Boutique track, "B-Boy Bouillabaisse."
  • The group didn't have a sampler when they recorded Licensed to Ill, so getting the Led Zeppelin sample required recording it to a reel-to-reel tape machine and looping it.
  • Like many of their songs, this one finds the Beasties rapping about a life of crime, with plenty of historical references along the way. Ali Baba, Captain Bly and Davey Jones all get a mention, and fittingly considering the John Bonham drum sample, so does Moby Dick.

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