Although 1989’s Paul’s Boutique is revered and holds an elite status among fans of the Beastie Boys, it was Check Your Head from 1992 that would thrust the band back into the mainstream in a positive way. What I love about this record is that the band no longer seemed content to rely solely upon sampled beats and songs; there is still a generous amount of these tracks though and great ones at that: Pass The Mic, Jimmy James and So What’cha Want all helped the Beasties establish a new bar for themselves while also proving successful on the charts. Helping set this record apart from previous efforts was also the fact that the band undertook playing their instruments on many of these songs, ranging from the fuzzed-out rock of Gratitude to the hardcore inspiration behind Time For Livin’.
The remastered edition of this record contains a second disc of 16 songs, with a mish-mash of throwaway tracks and keepers. In the good column we have a couple of remix variations on Pass The Mic, The Skills To Pay The Bills as well as the comical Boomin’ Granny. The throwaway tracks are just those: filler and nothing that I would consider to be essential listening.
In my opinion, Check Your Head should be required listening to all rap and hip-hop fans. It remains a solid record from start to finish, even almost 20 years later.