“Something’s Got To Give” by Beastie Boys (ft. Mark Nishita & James Bradley Jr)
Lyrically this is a very-simplistic song, the type one would more or less expect from the Beastie Boys. And “Something’s Got to Give” has been classified as an anti-war song, a sentiment that is made most evident at the beginning and end of the lyrics.
But more specifically, there doesn’t appear to be any references to war itself. Rather the emphasis in those particular sections are centered on its opposite, peace.
For instance, the very-first line features the vocalist “wish(ing) for peace between the races” and foreseeing a day when “we shall all be one”. He then gets more personal in the espousement of peace, positing the question “why fight yourself?”
So he’s even against war within one’s inner being. And for readers who believe that such a statement may sound read like a reference to Eastern spirituality, they may in fact be right. For it has been noted that this song was influenced by both Buddhist and Christian ideologies.
In fact group member Adam Yauch, aka MCA, was a very-serious adherent of the Buddhist religion.
And as far as the Christian influence contained therein, such is made blatantly evident in the last line of the song, well sort of. That is when the vocalist exclaims “Jesus Christ, we’re nice”.
Yes, giving Jesus a shoutout in a song about peace is very applicable. But truthfully, the main sentiment in that particular line centers on the Beastie Boys biggin’ up themselves, not goodwill.
Something Ugly is coming
Meanwhile concerning the mid-section of the tune again, it is not anti-war in the truest sense of the word.
Instead the artist is able to perceive that “there’s something coming to the surface”. Or put differently it’s like he feels in his gut that something catastrophic, which he can’t really put his finger on, is going to happen along the lines of interpersonal beef (i.e. war) very soon.
And considering that the Beastie Boys are in fact from the United States, they could be speaking to something like mass unrest, i.e. race riots or what have you.
In fact it can even be said that they were prophesying considering that just one week after this song dropped the 1992 Los Angeles riots, the biggest event of its type in America during the late-20th century, actually occurred.
Either way, the prospect of such an occurrence has the vocalist feeling uneasy.
Title (“Something’s Got To Give”)
And that brings us to the title of the song, “something’s got to give”. In other words, the aforementioned tension is so palpable that he feels eventually it’s going to truly manifest itself one way or another.
But that being noted, he also somewhat contrarily drops the line “this is all an illusion”. And going a bit out on a limb, in that regard what he may be referring to is the media influencing people to believe that certain situations are worse than they actually are.
Indeed even to this day you regularly hear people lambasting the mainstream news for always harping on these doom-and-gloom type of scenarios. Or perhaps he is also speaking to the propagators of war directly.
For instance, keep in mind that the Beastie Boys put this song together right after the Gulf War (1990-1991), America’s first major conflict since Vietnam. And whereas conspiracy theories may not have been as rampant back then as they have become since, there were still those who questioned the United States’ intentions as far as getting involved in that conflict in the first place.
So conclusively we can agree that this is in fact an anti-war or song, even if that particular sentiment may sail over the head of some listeners (though is buttressed by the music video).
The Beastie Boys aren’t a group, at least as far as their popular image goes, that is known for being socially conscious. But apparently they were so on occasion and lent their notoriety to causes such as this.
Writing Credits for “Something’s Got To Give”
The writing of this song is credited to the entirety of the Beastie Boys, who at the time of this track’s release consisted of Ad-Rock alongside group founders Mike D and the late MCA (1964-2012).
The other writers of the song are Mario Caldato Jr., a regular collaborator of the group, and “Money” Mark Nishita, a touring member of the Beastie Boys.
And as far as production goes Mario Caldato also handled things on that end, doing so alongside the entire hand.
The Beastie Boys
The Beastie Boys were the first White hip-hop act to ever gain mainstream notoriety. For example, they were the only Caucasian musicians (besides fellow hip-hop pioneer Rick Rubin) to be featured on “Krush Grove” (1985). “Krush Grove” is arguably the first major hip-hop based motion picture (no offense, “Breakin’”).
Also their debut album, “Licensed to Ill” (1986), was a monumental success. However, they had the tendency to mix rap with rock and as such were never embraced by most hip-hop purists.
Yet and still – many people would argue because they were in fact White – they were perhaps the most-successful rap group of the late 20th century even though, once again, you’ll rarely hear them mentioned in that regard.
For instance, the aforementioned “Licensed to Ill” along with their fourth, fifth and six albums – respectively Ill Communication (1994), Hello Nasty (1998) and To the 5 Boroughs (2004) – all topped the Billboard 200.
And once again in reference to their debut joint, it was certified diamond by the RIAA in 2015.
Meanwhile the Beastie Boys were never really that successful as far as their singles go. In fact in terms of chart performance the best song they put out wasn’t released until 2004 with “Ch-Check It Out”.
The aforementioned song topped Billboard’s Alternative Songs chart and was certified gold stateside.
And the track they’re probably most known for from their heyday would be 1987’s “(You Gotta) Fight for your Right (To Party!)”.
Release Date of “Something’s Got To Give”
“Something’s Got to Give” is a song from the Beastie Boys’ third album “Check Your Head”, which Capitol Records put out on 21 April 1992.
The track was released as a single yet as implied earlier failed to make any noise on the music charts. And as far as the featured James Bradley Jr. goes, he served as a percussionist on said album.
Are the Beastie Boys still together?
No. They formed during the early 1980s as part of the NYC music scene, which was in a heavy mode of evolution at that time. And they stayed together for over 30 years, ultimately disbanding in 2012 in the wake of the death of MCA.