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'Fresh Air' celebrates 50 years of hip-hop: Beastie Boys


This is FRESH AIR. I'm Terry Gross. Let's continue our hip-hop history series with the interview I recorded in 2006 with the Beastie Boys, Mike Diamond, Adam Horovitz and Adam Yauch. In 1987, they released "Licensed To Ill," the first hip-hop album to reach No. 1 on the pop charts.


BEASTIE BOYS: (Singing) Brass Monkey, that funky Monkey, Brass Monkey junkie, that funky Monkey. Brass - got this dance that's more than real. Drink Brass Monkey. Here's how you feel.

GROSS: Mike D, Ad-Rock and MCA, as they're better known, met when they were teenagers in New York City in the early '80s. At first they were a punk band, but they started to incorporate hip-hop into their music, collaborating with Def Jam Records co-founders Rick Rubin and Russell Simmons. Early on, they were dismissed by some as a novelty act for suburban MTV fans, three white, privileged kids swilling beer on stage, fighting for their right to party. But they turned out to be smarter than they first appeared, getting critical acclaim for their clever, playful lyrics and inventive layered sampling. They also became more political. They staged the Tibetan Freedom Concert in 1996 and supported anti-violence and anti-war campaigns. They also apologized for the misogyny of their early lyrics. The Beastie Boys recorded and performed for decades until the death of Adam Yauch in 2012. When we spoke in 2006, they had released a new concert film. Let's start with a track from their 1992 album, "Check Your Head."


BEASTIE BOYS: (Rapping) Well, just plug me in just like I was Eddie Harris. You're eating crazy cheese like you would think I'm from Paris. You know I get fly. You think I get high. You know that I'm gone, and I'ma (ph) tell you all why. So tell me; who are you dissing? Maybe I'm missing the reason that you're smiling or wyling (ph). So listen. In my head, I just want to take them down - imagination set loose, and I'm going to shake them down. Let it flow like a mudslide. When I get on, I like to ride and glide. I've got depth of perception in my text, y'all. I get props at my mention 'cause I vex y'all. So what you, what you, what you want? I get so funny with my money that you flaunt. I said, where'd you get your information from? You think that you can front when revelation comes? Yeah. Yeah. You can't front on that.


GROSS: Beastie Boys, welcome to FRESH AIR.

MCA: Hey, hey, hey.

AD-ROCK: Hey, hey.

GROSS: (Laughter).

MCA: That's Swedish for, what's up?

AD-ROCK: So...

GROSS: What's it like now to sing things that you wrote, you know, 20, 25 years ago, when you were much younger? You've changed a lot over the years. Do the lyrics still fit you?

MIKE D: A little awkward at times. It's a bit awkward.

GROSS: Yeah.

MCA: Some of them are dumb, but, yeah, it's just fun, you know? It's - sometimes it's fun to just play the old songs anyway, no matter how stupid they are.

GROSS: Have you revised any lyrics that you're no longer comfortable with, lyrics from...

AD-ROCK: Yeah, I mean, I know I do personally. Some of the stuff that I say on "License To Ill" - I say some real dumb stuff. And so, you know, I like the song, and the song's important to, you know, people that like us or listen to us. And so it's important. So - you know, and I like the songs, too. So I think it's good to play. You know, if that's what people want, you know, we should - you know, why not play the songs? But I definitely - there's some things that I don't like to say, so I'll just change it up.

MIKE D: Yeah. But I think overall, people are just happy that we play those songs.

AD-ROCK: Right.

MIKE D: You know what I mean? People are much happier that they go see a show and that we play songs that they love. And honestly, we switch up a few words so that they make it into something that we're comfortable with.

AD-ROCK: Yeah.

MCA: But, like, sometimes for me, I don't. Some lyrics, I'll change up. But sometimes I just think, everyone knows it's just a goof, you know? Everyone knows it's just something that's not meant to be serious. So sometimes I just leave them what they are.

AD-ROCK: I mean, it's not that often that we plan it ahead of time. It's just sort of, like, while we're doing the song, as the thing comes up, I'm like, oh, snap. This next lyric is going to come up, and it's stupid. So I just change it at the last minute.

GROSS: Can you give us an example of something you've changed?

AD-ROCK: I can't think of anything...

MIKE D: Yeah, that's what I'm trying to think.

AD-ROCK: ...Off the top of my head, but just some dumb things about, like - I don't even know.

MCA: It's usually the more sexist ones...

AD-ROCK: Yeah. Yeah.

MCA: ...That we switch up.

MIKE D: I do have one that I'm particularly proud of, and I'm not sure even who it came from. But in "No Sleep Till Brooklyn," I say, and Yauch's in the back at the mahjong board.

MCA: Yeah.

MIKE D: And I'm not even sure what is the original.

AD-ROCK: I don't even know if we could say it on the air.

MIKE D: Yeah. I don't even know what - yeah, if we could. But I just particularly like that because it kind of really reflects where we're at now.

GROSS: Now, you started off as a punk band. What - how did you switch from punk to rap?

MCA: I mean, we were kind of listening to a lot of hip-hop even when we were a punk band. Back in those days, even in the, like, small punk clubs like Tier 3 and Rock Lounge and...

AD-ROCK: Mudd Club.

MCA: ...And A7 and 171A and Mudd Club, they used to play, like, Funky 4 + 1 and Sugarhill Gang and a lot of old hip-hop records. So we kind of...

AD-ROCK: Before it was hip-hop.

MCA: So, yeah, when it was just called rap, I guess. So we were, like, kind of - I mean, we used to listen to that all the time, too. And we were into rhyming and, like, learning the rhymes on those records. And so we were kind of into both simultaneously. And then - but then we started making rap. When we were in the studio, we started making stuff.

GROSS: Your first hit was "Fight For Your Right." And, Adam Yauch, in the liner notes of a best-of collection, you write that the song began as a goof and that it started as a satire of "I Want To Rock" kind of songs. So what did you have in mind when you wrote that?

MCA: Yeah, basically that. I think you summed it up. It was just kind of, like, just one of those, like, "Smokin' In The Boys Room" type things. I just thought it was kind of funny. But I don't think we realized that it was going to be the - sort of the main focus of the album, that it was going to - like, I think the way we were looking at it, we were just kind of making this dumb song that had sit somewhere on the album. But I think that CBS and Rick and - saw it as being able to be something much larger than what we imagined. And they kind of made it the the main focus of the album.

GROSS: Let me play the record, and then we'll talk about it a little bit more.

MCA: Yeah.


AD-ROCK: Fantastic.

GROSS: (Laughter) And this is the Beastie Boys' "Fight For Your Right."


BEASTIE BOYS: (Rapping) Yeah. Kick it. You wake up late for school. Man, you don't want to go. You ask your mom please, but she still says no. You missed two classes and no homework. But your teacher preaches class like you're some kind of jerk. You got to fight for your right to party.

GROSS: So - OK, so this is, like, your first big single, really big hit. And you're saying it started out kind of as a goof. So did your fans misunderstand who you were?

MCA: I think maybe we just ended up with a different bunch of fans than we expected. Like, I think if we could have picked at the time - like, if I could have known, like, how much that record would have - that song would have informed everyone about the album - to use Mike's word, inform - I probably - my choice would have been more to pick, like, a different song to be the main single, like "Hold It Now" or "Slow And Low" or "Posse In Effect," or one of the other cuts. But anyway, that song was the one that informed everyone. And so next thing you knew, we would go out and play shows and look, and the whole place would just be full of, like, frat boys, like, drunken frat boys. And so it was a - so there we were.

AD-ROCK: And then that was us.

GROSS: You know, we were talking earlier about going from punk to hip-hop. So I don't imagine you had a big, you know, frat boy audience for your band when you were playing punk.

MIKE D: We never did when we were punk. And then also when we were playing hip-hop, like, what we came out of by hooking up with Russell, we actually - we had a - we got, like, a really good education in terms of going on tour and opening up for Run-DMC. Like, we were on a tour opening for Run-DMC, Whodini, LL Cool J. So that was, like, a completely hip-hop audience. So to then all of a sudden go into this world of, like, kind of like, I don't know, I guess a more pop audience and, like, kind of college kids wanting to party and drink beer and go see a Beastie Boys show - that was completely foreign to us and beyond anything we ever imagined.

GROSS: Adam, in those liner notes, you write, by drinking so much beer and acting like sexist, macho jerks, we actually became just that. So did you feel like...

MCA: I never said that.


GROSS: Did you feel like you were becoming the image that you created?

MCA: I think so, yeah. I think in a way, you know, it's almost like we started out kind of, like, goofing on it, but then just sort of became it in a way.

AD-ROCK: It's the become-what-you-hate syndrome. It happens.

MIKE D: So you set out with an agenda of parody and a certain amount of time goes by, and you kind of cross that line.

MCA: Yeah, like, you parody something enough, you know...

AD-ROCK: It's kind of like when you go to England and you do a British accent the whole time, and then you come home and you have a fake British accent.

GROSS: So was there a point where you...

AD-ROCK: You know what I mean?

GROSS: Yeah. Was there a point where...


GROSS: No (laughter). Was there a point where you said to yourselves, we crossed the line, we've become our own parody?

MIKE D: Definitely. But I don't - I think the point - that point almost came - like, we had to kind of get off of tour and almost have a second away from that to sort of assess and realize - look where everything was at.

GROSS: And so what changed when you had that realization?

MIKE D: We switched to weed.

MCA: Yeah.


GROSS: (Laughter).

MIKE D: And then we made "Paul's Boutique."

GROSS: Which was very different from the - which, I think, some fans loved and some fans felt disappointed because it was a departure. What was different about it?

MCA: Well, weed is a good word. It weeded out some fans, too. And that was OK.

AD-ROCK: And found some fans that were weeded out.

MCA: Yeah. Yeah, and the fans that got - that moved on, moved on to U2 or Scritti Politti or - I don't know, whatever was like...

AD-ROCK: Screety Poleety (ph).

MIKE D: I don't know what they're - they probably moved on to, like, wearing Dockers and...

MCA: Right.

MIKE D: They were mainly into, like, "Din Daa Daa" and stuff.

AD-ROCK: Color Me Badd, you know, something like that.

MCA: ABBA, all that - that whole genre of music.

MIKE D: Yeah. I mean, I think, like, with "Paul's Boutique," you had two things going on. You had, like, people who probably expected, like, "Fight For Your Right To Party Part Two." And they were very disappointed and were like, this isn't what I want at all.

MCA: And they got weeded out.

MIKE D: And they got weeded out. And then there were the fans that were like, wow, this is whatever. This is something I'm really into. And they got weeded out too.

MCA: They got weeded out.

MIKE D: They got - in a different meaning of the word.

GROSS: We're listening back to my 2006 interview with the Beastie Boys - Mike Diamond, Adam Horovitz and Adam Yauch. We'll hear more of the interview after a break. This is FRESH AIR.


GROSS: This is FRESH AIR. Let's get back to the interview I recorded in 2006 with the Beastie Boys - Mike Diamond, Adam Horovitz and the late Adam Yauch. Here's a track from their second album, "Paul's Boutique," which was released in 1989.


BEASTIE BOYS: (Rapping) Now, I rock a house party at the drop of a hat, yeah. I beat a biter down with an aluminum bat. A lot of people, they be jonesing just to hear me rock the mic. They'll be staring at the radio, staying up all night. So like a pimp, I'm pimping. I got a boat to eat shrimp in. Nothing wrong with my leg, just a B-boy limping. Got arrested at the Mardi Gras for jumping on a float. My man MCA's got a beard like a billy goat. Oowah, oowah (ph) is my disco call. MCA, huh, I'm getting rope y'all. Routines, I bust, and the rhymes that I write. And I'll be busting routines and rhymes all night. Like eating burgers or chicken or you'll be picking your nose. I'm on time, homie. That's how it goes. You heard my style. I think you missed the point. It's the joint. Mike D - yeah, with your bad self...

GROSS: You do a lot of raps where you basically pass off the mic to one another, a lot of, like, alternating rapping. So do you each write your own parts?

MCA: On some stuff. There are some songs, like "So What'cha Want" style where we're writing our own parts and singing our own parts. But there are other songs like "Hold It Now" or "Shake Your Rump" or that style where - we all get together and write stuff, and then we combine the lyrics that we've written and then we break them up and switch off in the way we perform it. And in those type of songs, we're - I mean, we're all contributing to what's written, but we're not necessarily saying what we've written. We've just - we're just kind of, like, switching it off however we think it, you know, might sound cool. But it's a - that's an older form of hip-hop that you don't hear as much these days. I mean, if you listen to more like Sugarhill Gang records and Funky Four and early hip-hop, there's a lot more, like, switching off with groups. These days, people tend to write their own parts and say their own parts. But we sort of like to go back to that old style of it.

GROSS: What comes first - you know, people always ask songwriters, what comes first, the music or the lyrics? What comes first for you? Is it, like, the words or the samples?

MIKE D: For us, generally how we work - we'll put on a track that we're working on and just kind of...

MCA: Like a beat or something.

MIKE D: Like a beat. It might even just be as simple as just a beat that's looped. You know, you loop four bars of it. And we'll all sit in a room...

MCA: You looped it.

MIKE D: ...Generally, and write to it. So it's kind of like, yeah, that beat or that original musical idea leads the way. And then we sit down and then - and take the books out and just - and write to it, and then just start doing vocals. And a lot of times, it'll be a while before it really all comes together. But basically, we'll do the vocals and kind of sketch out an arrangement or a structure for it.

MCA: But then we may keep swapping stuff. Like, we put that beat down and throw some lyrics on it, but then we may wind up changing out the beat that's there. Or we might end up changing out a lot of the lyrics that are there. But we just kind of keep messing around until we have something that we like.

AD-ROCK: You flesh it out. You punch it up.

MIKE D: Chip away at it.

GROSS: So you're in the same room when you're doing this, you're together?

MIKE D: A lot of times.

AD-ROCK: Unfortunately, yes.

MCA: Sometimes we write on our own. But a lot of times, we kind of need to, like, set aside time that we don't have, like, 20,000 other things going on. So it's a little easier for us to, like, just get together and put on a beat and, like, set aside some time to just write. And then we all write. We also like - it's more fun that way because we end up laughing about stuff or whatever.

MIKE D: It's less efficient, but it is more fun, because then, yeah, we can all order lunch. And that takes a few hours. And then we can order tea. That takes a couple hours.

MCA: We used to have a basketball court at our studio, but not anymore.

MIKE D: That takes a few hours.

MCA: Yeah.

GROSS: When you started sampling records, you know, after you started rapping, did you start listening to music differently, knowing that if you really loved, you know, a rhythm that you could use it?

MCA: Oh, yeah, you definitely hear things differently. Yeah. Yeah, after...

AD-ROCK: Everybody in America and damn near everybody in the world, since they've heard the new form of rap music with sampling, has - listens to music differently.

MCA: Yeah, like, because then you hear - like, you hear a little beat or a break or something like that, and you just start thinking about...

AD-ROCK: Car horns. Everybody hears loops.

MCA: Yeah, you just start thinking about looping right away.

GROSS: Now, I think it's "Superfly" that you sample on "Egg Man."

MCA: Yeah.

GROSS: It must have been kind of cool to, you know, take that soundtrack and kind of make it your soundtrack. Do you know what I mean? Like, who wouldn't want (laughter), like, a soundtrack like that? Do you know what I mean? I mean, to me, when... Yeah.

MIKE D: When we were making "Paul's Boutique," like, part of what was sometimes amazing to me in terms of sampling was that, yeah, you know, you kind of can put together whatever all-star group of people you want. You know, you can have a Jimi Hendrix guitar line, Miles Davis playing a horn and then a drum loop from a James Brown record or whatever. You know what I mean? You can have any kind of juxtaposition. Or - and then you can have, like, Elvis Costello on there for one second or the Ramones on there for one second. So you could kind of have - or Funky 4 + 1 More. You can have, like, this crazy combination of whomever and whatever and whenever all together however you like. To me, that's what's so unique about sampling. It completely defies, like, what you could do in terms of getting people together and actually making music.

MCA: Yeah, like, there's a moment I love in a remix that we put together of - we got a Black Flag guitar playing on top of a "Funky Drummer," James Brown beat that - it's just cool that you have these different musicians playing together from these completely different styles of music and, you know, creating this other thing.

GROSS: We're listening to my interview with the Beastie Boys - Mike Diamond, Adam Horovitz and the late Adam Yauch. I spoke to them in 2006, when they released a new concert film. We'll hear more of the interview after a break. This is FRESH AIR.


GROSS: This is FRESH AIR. We're celebrating the 50th anniversary of hip-hop with interviews from our archive. Let's get back to my 2006 interview with the Beastie Boys, Mike Diamond, Adam Horovitz and the late Adam Yauch.

You each come from families with pretty interesting artistic backgrounds. So if we could go around and if you could each talk a little bit about how, if at all, your parents' kind of artistic inclinations affected you when you were coming of age and developing your own artistic sensibility? Adam Horovitz, let's start with you. I mean, your father's a...


GROSS: ...Pretty well-known playwright Israel Horovitz.

AD-ROCK: Yeah.

GROSS: (Laughter).

AD-ROCK: I grew up - my dad - every time I was with my dad, he was always - not always, but he wrote. He's a writer, so he was always in his office, writing. He made a plan, like a point of, this is my work. I'm going to do this every day for these amount of hours. So I think that's where I got, like, a work sort of ethic. That's why we, like, we work so many hours we spend in the studio, and it just seems kind of natural because just watching my dad, how many hours he just spends in his office just writing and writing. Even when he doesn't have any particular story, he's writing, you know what I mean? He'll just go in and just - these are the hours he's got to do it.

So, you know, it was definitely influential to me just in terms of like a work ethic, just create whatever, you know, whatever you do, create something. And that was kind of the impression I got. And definitely from my mom was a very, very, very artistic person. And that's - I got creativity from my mother.

GROSS: Michael Diamond, your parents were in interior design. Do I have that right?

MIKE D: Well, my dad was a - was actually involved with the art world. He was an art dealer.


MIKE D: And so - yeah. I don't know. For me, I'd just say my influences, I had two things. One was I was - the biggest thing for me, I was the youngest of three brothers. So growing up here in Manhattan, in New York City at the time that we grew up, like in the '70s and the '80s, it was such an influential time of so much music happening, so much, you know, just kind of like everywhere. And, you know, this is a time before the internet. You know, you really had to have local access to things. And it was just like you had hip-hop. You had reggae. You had punk rock. And, like, everything was happening. And I kind of think, like, if I hadn't been - I don't know how I what my my entrance to all this kind of music would have been if I wasn't the youngest of three kids because it was kind of like whatever my oldest brothers were going through, I wanted to do the same thing at the same time. So even though I was, like, only, you know, 12 or 13, whatever they were doing when they were 16, I had to be involved with it.

GROSS: So what were they listening to that you loved?

MIKE D: I mean, whatever. That transition - I mean, that went from, like, stealing my brother's, you know, Steve Miller "Fly Like An Eagle" album...

GROSS: Yeah.

MIKE D: ...To then, like, discovering Elvis Costello through him to then, you know, getting turned on to hip-hop from my friends or stealing, you know, one of my brother's Bob Marley records. Yeah, I don't know. And then from my parents, I'm trying to think. I think, like, the biggest influence I got from my parents was just being exposed all the time to - like, they were really good about - especially since we grew up here in Manhattan, it wasn't like they would go to events and we'd stay at home. It's like all the time, we'd be going to art-type...

MCA: Galas.

MIKE D: ...Functions. We'd be going to - I don't know. Gala events - I think the kids got left at home for gala events.

AD-ROCK: Right. Right. Right. I'd leave the kids at home for gala events.

MIKE D: But, you know, if you're going to, like, an opening or - you know, all the time there were, like - you'd have, like, whatever creative people kind of coming in and out. And I think, like, I learned as much from the kind of creative people around the periphery of, like, my parents as I did from going to school in a lot of ways.

GROSS: Adam Yauch, your father's an architect. Do I have that right?

MCA: Yeah, but he's actually more of a painter, you know? He was - he went to art school for painting for a long time. And then he switched over to architecture. And he was - he did that for a while. And now he's gone back to painting. And I think he's...

AD-ROCK: Google him.

GROSS: (Laughter) What influence has that had on you?

MCA: Well, you know, I went to college for a couple years. And I remember, like - I was mostly signing up for, like, music classes and, like, art classes and all kinds of things. And I remember my mom kind of being like, what are you doing? Like, if you're going to go to school, you got to take some more academics. This is ridiculous. And my dad just kind of said to me, like, do whatever you want. If you want to take art classes, just take art classes.


MCA: I wouldn't worry about it.

GROSS: Did you ever expect that the Beastie Boys would be together for 25 years?

MIKE D: Oh, did we expect that the band was going to be around for this long? No, we didn't. I mean, it's not like - we had no idea it was going to be for 25 days.

AD-ROCK: Yeah.

MCA: Yeah.

AD-ROCK: I mean, honestly, when we started the band, it was - maybe I'm speaking for myself here. There was no, like, big ambition. It was kind of like, you know, that was a time when we were going to see bands all the time. A lot of our friends were in bands, so it just seemed like the natural thing. Like, OK, let's start a band and have fun. You know, we are in...

MCA: Play a couple of gigs or whatever.

AD-ROCK: Yeah. We were in high school. It wasn't like, OK, we're going to take over the world and do this for our whole lifetimes. I mean, I do think - I find it's funny. I think in the last, like - I'd say about last three to five years, my mom has finally realized that she - that I'm not going to get a day job.

GROSS: (Laughter).

AD-ROCK: But it's finally now has come...

MCA: Your mom's probably listening to this right now, too.

AD-ROCK: Yeah.

MCA: You know, I think if we knew that this - that the band was going to be around for this long, we probably would have thought of a better name.

MIKE D: Yeah, that's true.

GROSS: How did you think of your name?

AD-ROCK: You want to give any shout-outs to Hester or any other family, Mike? What's up?

GROSS: How did you think of...


GROSS: ...The name?

AD-ROCK: I had nothing to do with that - Adam Horovitz.

MCA: It just seemed like it was a funny idea at the time. Literally, like, as Mike described, we thought we were probably just going to play a handful of gigs. You know, all our friends were in bands. Everybody was in bands. And just, like, everybody was probably in five bands that we knew. You just, like, used to throw together a band and, like, write a couple songs, play a couple shows, and you're done, you know?

AD-ROCK: And also, part of the fun of being in a band was coming up with the stupidest name you could think of.

MIKE D: Like my band New Wave Old Hat. This was a big one.

MCA: Angry Samoans is a good name. Yeah.

GROSS: When you look at the history of hip-hop - and you know the history of hip-hop pretty well - where do you see yourselves fitting in? Like, when you think of the Beastie Boys, what do you think of as being, like, your main place in or contribution to hip-hop?

MIKE D: I'd say we're middle school. We're firmly middle school.

MCA: Well, I was going to say we're like the weird uncle. Like, you know how you have a weird uncle?

MIKE D: That's good.

MCA: Everybody's got a weird uncle. Mine is - well, I won't name any names, but my Uncle Freddy. I mean, no, come on.

AD-ROCK: My Uncle Freddy is mad cool.

MCA: Yeah. No, I mean, my Uncle Freddy is incredibly cool.

AD-ROCK: My Uncle Freddy's like the Fonz, yo.

MCA: But you could be both cool and be...

AD-ROCK: Right.

MCA: ...The weird uncle.

AD-ROCK: I'm kind of the weird uncle; aren't I?

GROSS: So...

AD-ROCK: See; the kid looks at me like I'm the weird uncle.

GROSS: So what's...

AD-ROCK: That's how it is.

GROSS: What makes...

MIKE D: I guess. I guess.

GROSS: What makes you...

AD-ROCK: Probably not, like, legal uncle.

MCA: Good weird, good weird.

AD-ROCK: It's good. It's good.

MCA: Like my Uncle Freddy. He's good weird, you know?

AD-ROCK: Yeah, yeah, yeah. Save me the tuchus.

MCA: Yeah. Save me the tuchus stuff.

GROSS: (Laughter) So what makes...

MCA: Yeah.

GROSS: ...You compare the Beastie Boys to a weird uncle?

AD-ROCK: We come around just once in a while. We're not always around, you know? It's just sort of once in a while. We'll stop by, say some weird things and, you know, just sort of make you laugh and hang out and have some fun. And then, you know, we go back to wherever it is that we live.

MCA: Wherever we came from.

AD-ROCK: Where we came from. And then we might come back a little way. Hey; when's, you know, those crazy uncles coming back to visit?

MCA: Just see us on Thanksgiving.

AD-ROCK: Yeah. We might get a little drunk, act stupid. You know, the next time, you know, might not.

MCA: Be yelling across the room, save me the tuchus, on Thanksgiving.

AD-ROCK: Yeah. I like that.

GROSS: Well, thank you so much for talking with us. Thanks.

MCA: Well, thanks for having us.

AD-ROCK: Thank you.

GROSS: The Beastie Boys, Mike Diamond, Adam Horovitz and Adam Yauch, recorded in 2006. Adam Yauch died in 2012 at the age of 47. Tomorrow we'll continue our hip-hop history series with my interviews with RZA from the Wu-Tang Clan and Andre Benjamin, aka Andre 3000 from Outkast. I hope you'll join us. FRESH AIR's executive producer is Danny Miller. Our technical director and engineer is Audrey Bentham. Our interviews and reviews are produced and edited by Amy Salit, Phyllis Myers, Roberta Shorrock, Sam Briger, Lauren Krenzel, Heidi Saman, Ann Marie Baldonado, Thea Chaloner, Seth Kelley and Susan Nyakundi. Our digital media producer is Molly Seavey-Nesper. Therese Madden directed today's show. Our co-host is Tonya Mosley. I'm Terry Gross.

(SOUNDBITE OF DE LA SOUL SONG, "CHANGE IN SPEAK") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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Combine an intelligent interviewer with a roster of guests that, according to the Chicago Tribune, would be prized by any talk-show host, and you're bound to get an interesting conversation. Fresh Air interviews, though, are in a category by themselves, distinguished by the unique approach of host and executive producer Terry Gross. "A remarkable blend of empathy and warmth, genuine curiosity and sharp intelligence," says the San Francisco Chronicle.
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