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Music

The Beastie Boys song inspired by Alfred Hitchcock

@TomTaylorFO

The Beatie Boys are surely christened with the hard-earned title of the nerdiest outfit in rap, delving into every weird and wonderful realm of pop culture. While you’d love to angle it that they were searching high and low for inspiration, the truth is the gang were simply slumbering pop culture fiends. Nevertheless, their ventures coloured their back catalogue all the same.

If the sort of rap the Boys were trying to propagate in their heyday offered up a mix of punk rock’s inherent depravity floating in the hip hop mix, then introducing a touch of Alfred Hitchcock to their oeuvre was a great way to go about it. After all, there are few things more ‘in your face’ than a knife-wielding maniac from the horror world.

For their 1989 track ‘Egg Man’ from the iconic and frankly timelessly fantastic Paul’s Boutique record, the trio paired their mischievous and nerdy sides perfectly. The title of the song itself comes from a period in their lives when they were holed up in a swanky Los Angeles hotel, the Mondrian to be exact, after making the switch from Def Jam to Capitol and they decided to spend their time and recently imbursed cash pile, hurling eggs from the roof at street-level denizens. 

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Needless to say, this is far more benign devilry than anything a Hitchcock protagonist would dabble in. However, the Boys decided to introduce one of their directorial favourites into the song. The screeching strings that burst the song into eerie life come courtesy of Bernard Hermann and a sample of his score for Psycho. Layered over the punk base, it also helps to do what many of the other songs of the era seize upon in the style of David Bowie: they colour the track with the depth of pop culture.

These Hermann derived sounds run throughout the track in flashes before it eventually finishes up in a horror movie montage complete with further samples from Psycho and the classic Jaws soundtrack by the legendary John Williams. The simple, direct use of samples is a come-hither look into the creative world that inspired them, not to mention the fact that they are also dipping into great music with a delightful note of horror nerdery to it. 

With Curtis Mayfield and Lightnin’ Rod also in the mix of samples, the track displays just how wide the net The Beastie Boys cast over pop culture was. It all swirls up in a track that made them one of the most original acts of the era.