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Master Tapes of Beastie Boys’ Classic ‘License to Ill’ Have Disappeared, Mike D Says

The Beastie Boys Photographed in 1987
Mpifreeberg/Mediapunch/REX/Shutterstock

Is the original recording of the Beastie Boys’ “License to Ill” lost forever?

On Sunday night’s episode of his Beats 1 show “Echo Chamber,” Beastie Boys member Mike D revealed to Q-Tip that no one can find the masters to the hip-hop group’s debut album.

“No, ‘License to Ill,’ we don’t have. ‘License to Ill,’ like nobody can find it — I’m not even lying,” he said on-air when the rapper asked about the album.

Q-Tip, who appeared on the Beastie Boys track “Get it Together,” pointed fingers at the group’s label Def Jam, saying “You know that Def Jam sh-t is off. Nobody can find anything. Rick [Rubin] doesn’t have any of it?”

“No. … Literally nobody can find it,” Mike D said.

Not all of the group’s original recordings have suffered the same ignoble fate. According to Mike, the original tapes of “Paul’s Boutique,” the group’s second studio album, have been preserved since its release in 1989.

“I don’t know (if) we ever digitized it, but we have it on like two-inch tape,” he said.

Ice Cube was also in-studio on Sunday, sharing how the Beastie Boys influenced his group N.W.A.

“You had a big influence on us, especially our early records,” Ice-Cube told Mike D. “I don’t know if you heard a record called ‘My Posse.’ You’d be like, those kids are biting us. They’re biting the Beastie Boys.” The rapper pointed to the track “Hold It Now” as particularly inspirational for him and the rest of the N.W.A crew, which consisted of members Eazy-E, Dr. Dre, MC Ren, and DJ Yella, The D.O.C., and Arabian Prince.

“That ‘Hold It Now’ 808 … you put that on, it’s wrecking the party,” Ice Cube said. “So Dre was a DJ so any of these records that moved the crowd like that were influential on what we were doing and what we were putting together. because I mean, you guys, all that is opening us up to saying we ain’t got to conform … Let’s just talk about what’s going on around here. And once we made that decision, we became superstars.”

Ice Cube also revealed the impact of another Beasties track. “‘Paul Revere’ just changed our life,” he said. “This is how we knew our style would work. We did a version of ‘Paul Revere’ at a show and the crowd went crazy. We changed the words, made it dirty, made it ours, and the crowd went crazy, and we knew, okay, this was our style. I know you probably don’t know nothing about that, but it’s true.”