Beastie Boys’ “Sabotage” is widely regarded as one of the greatest rap songs of the 1990s. And it spawned one of the decade’s most iconic videos too. But it took nearly a quarter of a century for the group to reveal exactly what the track is really about. Here’s a look at the story behind the Ill Communication classic.
The original Beastie Boys line-up of John Berry, Michael Diamond, Adam Yauch and Kate Schellenbach first came together in New York in 1981. The group started out as a hardcore punk outfit supporting the likes of the Dead Kennedys, Bad Brains and Reagan Youth. They began to make waves with Polly Wog Stew, their first E.P., which hit the shelves in 1982.
Beastie Boys underwent a couple of major lineup changes over the next few years. Mike Horovitz joined the band in 1982 to replace the departed Berry, while two years later Schellenbach also decided to quit. The group chose to remain as a trio and soon after reinvented themselves as a hip-hop act using the stage names Mike D (Diamond), Ad-Rock (Horovitz) and MCA (Yauch).