Paul’s Boutique

The first Beastie Boys album was silly and fun. Licensed to Ill became part of the soundtrack when hanging out freshman year of high school.

It wasn’t until the summer before our senior year when Paul’s Boutique dropped. As much as the first album was simple and all about partying, this record was… complex. I tried to get into it but the layered sampling and time shifts threw me off.

It was the insistence of my friend Danny Parker that I really gave it a listen. He was adamant, flipping the tape over and over as he taught me how to drive stick shift in his Mazda 3 with the forgiving clutch.

If you listen with intent long enough, sometimes things sink in – especially if they’re so far out and dense with goodness. I would eventually learn every lyric to Paul’s Boutique (and there are many). It’s an album I’d bring to a desert island without hesitation, for there is always something new to uncover and it reminds me of good friends and a moment in time.

Lyric sheet on teal paper inside a record
The lyric sheet on vinyl is somewhat readable, but the cassette was bonkers small.
Paul's Boutique album cover inside gatefold of the record
The cover photography was mesmerizing, enhanced by the lack of any type or additional graphics.