The King Ad-Rock is either your first favorite or second favorite Beastie Boy. This is a proven fact. The Lil’ Dogg has polled over 1 trillion Beastie fans and not once did Adam Horowitz come in third. Ad-Rock is both the “cute one” and the “funny one” but most importantly he’s the “one who does all the voices”.
Going all the way back to Licensed to Ill, Ad-Rock was always the vocal manipulator, twisting his nasally whine up and down and left and right. He may have used more voices on License but he certainly perfected his craft on Paul’s Boutique, punching his lines when needed and holding back when necessary. Often it wasn’t whole sentences but rather just individual words or syllables stretched and manipulated to extract every last ounce of ultimate funk from each letter.
Top 5 Ad-Rock Voices on Paul’s Boutique
5. High Plains Drifter – “Why are you here?”
Roughly three minutes in to the epic journey that is High Plains Drifter, the Beasties find themselves thrown into jail with a drunk named Otis. Ad-Rock playing Otis asks a simple question to the now incarcerated Beastie – “Why are you here?” In Adam’s vocal hands Otis, still drunk after three days in the tank, becomes a Gilbert Gottfried sounding wizened old lush, clearly annoyed at the intrusion upon his formerly solitary cell. The voice is absurd and perfect and paints an instant mind picture – Otis doesn’t care what the Beasties did to end up in his cell. That’s not the “why” he’s interested in. No. Otis wants to know why his cell and more importantly when are you leaving.
4. Sounds of Science – Mid Song Breakdown
Half way through Science Ad-Rock unleashes what I like to call, his “Big Voice”. This voice is most notable for its use in the oft-sampled Licensed to Ill line “Ummm Drop” and there’s an obvious reason why that line is so classic – it sounds super dope. Adam’s Big Voice is just plain cool.
3. What Comes Around – “Doris the Finkasauros”
The Outro to What Comes Around is 1 minute of pure Beastie tomfoolery. Equal parts gibberish and half-hearted rhymes the whole thing seems like wasted tape until the final line – Ad-Rock chiming in with “Doris the Finkasauros”. Instantly all three Beasties start cracking up laughing. Why is “Doris the Finkasauros” so funny? Who knows? But it is. The genius of the Beastie is that their whole career was one long in-joke that they just happened to be letting the whole world be apart of. What was funny to them became funny to us, probably for very vastly different reasons. But it didn’t matter. You were in on the joke even if you only thought you were.
2. Various Songs – The word “floor”
Ad-Rock says the word “floor” a few different times on Paul’s Boutique and for some reason known only to him, he plays with the pronunciation every time. And for reasons I can’t explain I find it fascinating and delightful. Perhaps it’s the “o” sound into the “r” sound that allows the word to be so malleable. Whatever it is, the word is magic in Adam’s hands…or rather vocal chords.
1. Various Songs – Rolling “RRRRR’s”
Adam “King Ad-Rock” is the only rapper I know of that loves to roll his R’s. It’s a total Ad-Rock thing to do. It fits his style perfectly. It’s an utterly distinctive stylistic trademark. The vocal dexterity required to roll your R’s in the middle of a rap verse without screwing up your flow is mind boggling and Adam does it a lot. Sometimes it’s just a slight roll other times like on “Car Thief” when he says “rrrrope chain” it’s more pronounced but it’s never not super fun. It’s playful and clever and unique – just like the King Ad-Rock himself.
Here’s some awesome old Ad-Rock photos just because:
Yeah Ad-Rock liked the Hollywood girls back in the day.