What did hip-hop need to bolster its rising stock in mainstream culture? Skinny-jeaned punk-rockers? Really? Licensed to Ill is loaded with an infamous irony: that it caricatured a vibe it then emblemised. True, this sound probably did contribute to the sleeves-cut-off, pencil thin-douchebag-beard, dick-headedness of the 90s. The Beasties have even apologised for the intoxicating sound that enabled its ironised messages to Awaken the Asshole In You. The fact remains: it is cringeworthy, abrasive, and grotesquely enjoyable. How many records can be this irreverent and anthemic? They could and did do better one album later – I think that means we can enjoy this monster relatively guilt-free.
A favourite: ‘No Sleep Till Brooklyn’