I first heard about the Beastie Boys in 1985/86 because they were on a hardcore compilation album called "New York Thrash," which also featured Bad Brains, whose name I later discovered had inspired the Beastie Boys' choice of a name using BB initials. When the Beastie Boys' album "Licensed to Ill" came out, I was intrigued and exhilarated by their metamorphosis into a hip-hop group because I had mainly been listening to punk. Even though I liked RUN-DMC and the hip-hop from Beat Street and Breakin', I felt awkward being into hip-hop as a white kid. "Licensed to Ill" was instantly infectious and a thrilling sonic encapsulation of bratty teen rebellion. It was (and is) a great hip-hop album, but it threw in punk and metal references and samples along with the hip-hop ingredients and amazing rhymes. The Beasties blew the doors open for me to embrace other hip-hop like LL Cool J, Public Enemy, Boogie Down Productions, N.W.A., and Slick Rick. "Licensed to Ill" was a life-changing album for me, but also the album that supercharged the crossover of hip-hop to the mainstream begun by RUN-DMC. The only prominent portrait poster of the Beastie Boys that I saw in the record stores of Charleston, SC at the time was a photo taken by Glen E. Friedman of the Adidas-clad Ad-Rock and Mike D sitting on a skateboard with MCA jumping off the Washington Square Park arch in the background. That image is beautifully composed and transports me to my teenage self, who lived for music, skateboarding, and jumping off of stuff. I'm honored to collaborate with Glen on a print based on another photo from that same Washington Square Park session. I think the image conveys the energy and camaraderie of the Beasties as their musical careers were about to explode and transform culture over the course of several masterpiece albums.
This Beastie Boys collaboration was originally created to celebrate the release of my book TOGETHER FOREVER that brought together all my best photographs of Beasties and Run-DMC. Shepard and I, as always, piece things together with several goals in mind. It was really important to make something reflective of all of my work with these guys and also celebrate their roots in New York City. And what expresses that better than them under the Washington Square park Arch (originally dedicated in 1895) in the center of the cultural mecca that is Greenwich Village? The humor, fun and enthusiasm is as clear as the landmark marble detail surrounding them. All of the other images and ephemera in the lower quadrant are rooted in other photos of mine of them over the years. Celebration of these incredible creative artists is full circle for me with this illustration. Also, my "BURNING FLAGS tour" photography exhibition is coming to Paris, France opening July 20th at 3537!
–Glen E. Friedman
Beastie Boys: Stand Together! (Two Colorways: Red & Blue). A limited amount of matching numbered sets will be available for $200. Red and Blue sold separately for $100. 18 x 24 inches. Screen print on thick cream Speckletone paper. Original Illustration based on photograph by Glen E. Friedman. Signed by Ad-Rock, Glen E. Friedman, Mike D, and Shepard Fairey. Numbered edition of 250. Comes with a Digital Certificate of Authenticity provided by Verisart. $100.