Beastie Boys and Nas Demand Some Respect

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Photo: Getty Images

The Beastie Boys’ set at Bonnaroo this weekend didn’t exactly blow us away, but we’d still like to pass along a highlight so good it’s worth braving shaky fan footage for: the B-Boys premiering a new song featuring Nas — possibly titled “Too Many M.C.s” or “Let It Out” — with a live appearance from Mr. Nasir Jones himself. It’s not so much the performance that’s getting us geeked as just the fact that this song exists; as any Beasties fanatic worth his salt can tell you, this is only the second time in the crew’s career they’ve solicited verses from a prominent guest rapper. (The first was Q-Tip, on Ill Communication standout “Get It Together.”)

One could argue this is just happenstance — rap groups in general aren’t too big on guest verses, seeing as there is only so much mike time to pass around for actual members. But we’ve always seen the B-Boys’ isolationist policy as a sly nod to the fact that — for reasons including their instrumental work, their genre experiments, and the color of their skin — they’ve never really been evaluated solely the merits of their skills as emcees: They’ve always been considered more of a critically acclaimed, one-off hip-hop curio rather than a collection of funny, highly skilled individual rappers. In case you haven’t been able to guess by now, we think that’s a bad thing. And the fact that they’ve recorded a song whose chorus includes the phrase “too many rappers and still not enough emcees” and features the implicit approval of one of the greatest rappers of all time leads us to believe they’re finally calling out for credit where credit is due. Heartwarming. (The two clips below unfortunately just have a verse from Nas and Mike D each, but we’re sure a leaked studio version can’t be that far behind.)