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Beastie Boys – “Sabotage” (1994)

January 1, 2023

Beastie Boys – Sabotage

The Beastie Boys were recording superstars in the years after they first formed. Living in the New York City area, they enjoyed local success until their breakout album was released to critical acclaim after touring with Madonna. Beastie Boys rapping style in the late seventies and early eighties evolved. When the Beastie Boys started touring as headliners, fans across the globe discovered their unique hip-hop sound.

The Beastie Boys have 8 studio albums and 40 singles, many of which made Billboard’s top lists.

The song “Sabotage” was released on January 28, 1994, with the album III Communication. 

Song Facts: 

  • Their first hit single, “Cookie Puss,” wasn’t hip-hop, but it had elements like sampling that would come to epitomize the hip-hop genre.
  • Beastie Boys started as an instrument and sampling fusion band, categorized by mixing genres together.
  • Founding members are Michael “Mike D” Diamond on drums and vocals, Adam “MCA” Yauch on bass guitar, and Adam “Ad-Rock” Horovitz on programming, guitar, and vocals.
  • The song was inspired by the band’s producer, Mario Caldato. He was frustrated by the band’s lack of focus when working on the III Communication album and told them they needed to finish something. Adam proceeded to write a verse about how Caldato was sabotaging their creative process by making them work. The band put the verse together with an instrumental track they were working on, and the rest is music history. 
  • In 2004, Rolling Stone ranked the song as #475 on their 500 Greatest Songs Of All Time list. However, a 2021 update moved the song up to #245. 
  • The song’s music video was directed by Spike Jonze and is a parody of quintessential 70’s cop tv shows, such as CHiPs and Hawaii Five-O. In the video, the Beasties use wigs and mustaches to play different characters. They had so much fun that they kept their costumes and began incorporating them into their party attire. 
  • After losing to “Everybody Hurts” for a VMA for Best Direction, Adam rushed the stage. He was wearing a fake mustache and lederhosen in character for his alter ego, Nathaniel Hornblower. This was the first time that an acceptance speech experienced an intrusion. The same thing would happen with Kanye West and Taylor Swift 15 years later. Adam didn’t experience any fallout, however; the network said, “The boys would be (Beastie) boys.”


I can’t stand it, I know you planned it

I’m gonna set it straight, this Watergate

I can’t stand rocking when I’m in here

‘Cause your crystal ball ain’t so crystal clear

So while you sit back and wonder why

I got this fucking thorn in my side

Oh my God, it’s a mirage

I’m tellin’ y’all, it’s a sabotage

So, so, so, so listen up ’cause you can’t say nothin’

You’ll shut me down with a push of your button?

But you, I’m out and I’m gone

I’ll tell you now, I keep it on and on

‘Cause what you see you might not get

And we can bet, so don’t you get souped yet

You’re scheming on a thing that’s a mirage

I’m trying to tell you now, it’s sabotage


Our backs are now against the wall?

Listen all y’all, it’s a sabotage

Listen all y’all, it’s a sabotage

Listen all y’all, it’s a sabotage

Listen all y’all, it’s a sabotage

I can’t stand it, I know you planned it

I’m gonna set it straight, this Watergate

Lord, I can’t stand rockin’ when I’m in this place

Because I feel disgrace because you’re all in my face

But make no mistakes and switch up my channel

I’m Buddy Rich when I fly off the handle

What could it be? It’s a mirage

You’re scheming on a thing, that’s sabotage


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