The Beastie Boys were legends. Their brand of easy going, rebellious humour driven hip-hop was decades ahead of its time, and more than that, they did it at a time where white people doing hip hop even slightly convincingly was unheard of.
Part of the reason they were able to get away with that is that they were not trying to be N.W.A.
Coming from a hardcore NY punk background, the original sound of the Beastie Boys was in fact rock music. They then moved into hip hop.
“Fight For Your Right” is an anthem, and still essentially a rock anthem. However, at that point, the Beastie Boys were doing hip hop; the song actually has its roots, like so much of their other stuff, in a joke. They were making fun of a certain type of mid 80s rock that emphasised the “bad ass” aesthetic when it was really nothing of the sort. The band stopped playing the song live because it really wasn’t their style, and they were embarrassed.
Regardless of how serious it was meant to be, it’s undeniably a classic song. More than that, it works very well as a “party” song, just the sort of thing it was meant to parody. The chorus in particular lends itself very well to drunken singalongs. The guitar riffs are simple but effective, with a natural jam to the rhythm section that keeps the whole thing brimming to the top with youthful energy.
The song is from Licensed To Ill, the group’s 1986 debut album, and has since appeared in a plethora of lists such as “the 500 Songs that Shaped Rock and Roll” by the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
Not bad for a song that was meant to be a joke!