This was the first single taken from American hip-hop group Beastie Boys' eighth studio album' Hot Sauce Committee, Pt. 1. "It's one thing to be a master of ceremony, but it's another thing to just be playing a rapper and spitting eight bars on someone's track," Mike D said of the track.
On this track the threesome share the mic with their fellow New York hip-hop artist, Nas. Drowned In Sound asked the Beastie Boys if they hooked up with him in person. Ad-Rock replied: "It was one of those things, like we gotta do something together some time. We asked, Nas got back to us and did it, like the true professional he is."
MCA added: "To be completely honest we sent him the track, he sent us his vocals, then we put our vocals onto it. So we weren't in the studio at the same time, but we hung out with him afterwards."
The song's central sentiment is, "Too many rappers, not enough emcees." However the New York trio have stated in interviews that another of the lyrics has been commonly misheard. They claim that chat about "crack rappers," is instead, "crab rappers."
A couple of old-school R&B/rap references in this song: "Strawberry Letter 23
like Shuggie" mentions the song written and originally recorded by Shuggie Otis and popularized by The Brothers Johnson; "Supersonic like J.J. Fad" refers to the 1988 rap song by the female trio.
The trio were forced to take a hiatus after member Adam Yauch was diagnosed with cancer, thus delaying the release of the album. Eventually it was released under the title of Hot Sauce Committee, Pt. Two in May 2011 and the track listing included a new rendering of this song dubbed the "New Reactionaries Version."
The music video features the Beastie Boys and Nas exchanging bars in various places, including on stage. The clip was directed by Wes Anderson associate Roman Coppola.
The visual wasn't released at the time the single was dropped, but was discovered by a fan of the group a few years later, and ended up on former Beasties' editor Neal Usatin's website.