The Mid-Week Beat: Happy Birthday Mike D and Phife Dawg!

Today is the birthdays of two prominent contributors to the so-called “Golden Age of Hip Hop” – Mike D of the legendary Beastie Boys and Phife Dawg of the equally influential A Tribe Called Quest.

Mike D was born Michael Diamond on this day in 1965 in New York City. Born into an upper-middle class Jewish family, young Diamond was drawn to the gritty, urban hardcore punk scene that was starting to blossom around clubs like CBGB’s and Max’s Kansas City.

In 1978, at the age of 13, he co-founded The Young Aborigines, an “experimental-hardcore” band with Diamond sitting in on drums. Eventually, Adam Yauch (later dubbed MCA) would replace Jeremy Shatan on bass and Diamond would move from drums to vocal duties. In 1983, Adam Horovitz (Ad-Rock) would join the group on guitar and they would eventually change their name to the Beastie Boys. The group released the legendary Polly Wog Stew EP in 1982 and it would be their only release as a hardcore punk band.

** WARNING! This video contains language that may be offensive to some viewers. **


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25 Years of Def Jam Records!

Hard to believe that Def Jam Records has been around for 25 years! I remember the first time I heard of Def Jam, it was when I discovered The Beastie Boys classic debut “Licensed To Ill” a release that managed to bring hip-hop, punk, rock and mainstream audiences together with the universal call to “Fight for Your Right to Party!” Something any 13 year old (my age in 1986) can stand behind, even though I really didn’t know what “partying” was yet.

The label was started by the now-infamous record producer Rick Rubin in his dorm room at NYU and its first release was a single by his punk group Hose. Shortly after that, Vincent Gallo introduced Rubin to Russell Simmons. The label would then focus more on hip-hop and urban music but would also count thrash-metal band Slayer among its ranks, proving its diversity and desire to bring the rock and hip-hop communities together. Throughout the late 80s and early to mid 90s, Def Jam would dominate the pop charts with ground breaking releases by Public Enemy, LL Cool J and EPMD and then into the new millennium with chart-toppers Rihanna, Jay Z and Kanye West.
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