‘Licensed to Ill’ Turns 30, So We’re Revisiting their Old HQ at 59 Chrystie Street

Posted on: November 16th, 2016 at 5:13 am by

59-chrystie-beastie-boys

Yesterday was the thirtieth anniversary of Licensed to Ill, the Beastie Boys’ seminal debut on Def Jam Recordings. The long-player became the first rap album to top the Billboard album chart, and eventually shifted more than ten million copies just in the United States.

During this formative era, the three-piece group dwelled (and partied) at 59 Chrystie Street. This Chinatown abode – they leased a full floor – was their home, recording studio, and party palace. British Airways enabled this headquarters, oddly enough.

The transatlantic airline company lifted a snippet of “Beastie Revolution” for use in a television ad campaign in 1983.  It was done without properly licensing the track, which appeared on the second EP dubbed Cookie Puss. The subsequent copyright infringement case was a success, netting the band $40,000 in damages, which enabled the rental of 59 Chrystie Street.

Mike D and the dearly departed MCA fondly recalled their time at 59 Chrystie Street in a 1998 interview with Spin Magazine:

Mike D: That money enabled us to make the move for independence. We got a floor in this Chinese Sweatshop building on Chrystie Street [on the lower East Side of Manhattan].

MCA: The floor was blacktop. Somebody had actually rolled tar across it, like the street. One time we were hanging out in the living room and we heard this really loud explosion in the kitchen. Our toaster oven had a hole in the top and a hole in the back. There was a hole in the wall behind it and a hole in the ceiling. Apparently, somebody upstairs fired a gun through the floor. We ran up there and there was nobody in the room but this old woman. We were like, “What happened?” and she didn’t speak English. You know some crazy shit had just happened in that sweatshop and they had quickly covered it up. Dragged the body out.

Recent Stories

300lafayette-1
300 Lafayette Bills itself as ‘Cutting Edge’ with New Ad Banners

Alive for many months, the project site at 300 Lafayette Street is finally ready to go big on the hype. Banners pimping the new seven-story commercial building were affixed to the sidewalk bridge earlier this month, promising “cutting edge.” Hard to believe it’s already been a year since the BP gas station at the corner of […]

da-falafel-guys-rivington
‘Da Falafel Guys’ Coming to Rivington Street, Forged from the Remains of the Falafel Shop

The retail reanimation of 127 Rivington Street includes a bizarro version of its former self. Seven months later, no longer known as the Falafel Shop, the tiny store is now home to something called Da Falafel Guys. The signage and offering are nearly identical to the predecessor, but it’s under different ownership. Da Falafel Guys […]

trump-dick-face-orchard_wm
Dick-Faced Trump Paster Appears at Hanksy’s ‘Dump Trump’ Wall on Orchard Street

It was a beacon of anti-Trumpism for more than a year. Until this past January when Hanksy’s Dump Trump Mural was whitewashed. The narrative at the time suggested that the building owners received a letter from the city last summer to clean up this shit or face fines. But the real reason was that they […]

thelma-clinton-gate
Thelma on Clinton is reborn as ‘Lil Gem’ Lebanese Restaurant

Chef-restaurateur Melissa O’Donnell delivered on her promise to return to the Lower East Side with a new concept. Indeed, more than a month after shuttering the three-year-old Thelma on Clinton, the space at 29 Clinton Street has been transformed into a Lebanese restaurant called Lil’ Gem. Evoking her Lebanese heritage again – Thelma was named […]

138bowery-update-1_wm
New Condo-Hotel on the Bowery Ascends Halfway to 8 Stories

Now that the centuries-old Federal-style houses are a footnote in the pages of local history, the next chapter is foisted upon us. It’s been a few months since our last progress report on the status of the historically significant 138-142 Bowery development site. In that time, activity has been swift. The forthcoming condo-hotel has already […]