Beastie Boys – The Making of ‘Sabotage’

Today, Vevo released a new installment of Footnotes, taking viewers behind the scenes of the official music video for Beastie Boys’ smash hit “Sabotage,” on the 20th anniversary of their Ill Communication album released May 31, 1994.



The episode highlights Adam Horowitz’s desire for the group to dress as undercover cops during a stakeout. When director Spike Jonze arrived at a photoshoot in a wig and fake mustache, it resurrected the concept. Jonze likened “Sabotage” to the videos he made while in high school that featured weird glasses and fake mustaches. The music video pays homage to 1970s cop shows like “Hawaii Five-O” and “Starsky And Hutch.”

Additionally, the episode reveals that Ad-Rock came up with the idea to write a song about their producer trying to sabotage them when they were having trouble completing the album. This resulted in “Sabotage” becoming the final track finalized for Ill Communication. According to the group memoir Beastie Boys Book, the song initially experimented with a hook that used a Queen Latifah sample. The episode concludes with an Amy Poehler remark that without “Sabotage,” there would be no Anchorman, Wes Anderson or Lonely Island.


00:03: Directed by Spike Jonze, “Sabotage” was the first video from 1994’s ‘Ill Communication.’

0:20: According to Adam Yauch, his bandmate Adam Horovitz always wanted them to dress up as undercover cops on a stakeout, complete with ties and fake mustaches. When Spike Jonze showed up to do a photoshoot in a fake wig and mustache, they revisited the idea.

00:41: Jonze once said “Sabotage” was like the videos he made in high school, “weird glasses, fake mustaches, using flour as fake coke. It’s funny to realize I was making the same stuff all over again, but just much better.”

01:00: Adam Yauch, aka MCA, plays fictional characters called Sir Stewart Wallace and Nathan Wind.

01:21: The trio felt awkward on larger sets with bigger budgets. They asked Jonze to work with a crew small enough to fit into a single van, which allowed them to film around L.A. without any permits.

01:40: 1970s cop shows are referenced throughout the video, including ‘Hawaii Five-O,’ ‘S.W.A.T.,’ and ‘Starsky And Hutch.’

02:00: According to the memoir, ‘Beastie Boys Book,’ “Sabotage” was the final song completed for ‘Ill Communication.’ The group had previously worked out multiple versions, including one with a Queen Latifah sample as the hook.

02:21: The trio were indecisive about completing the songs on ‘Ill Communication,’ which was frustrating for their sound producer, Mario Caldato Jr. So Ad-Rock decided that it would be funny to write a song about how Mario was trying to mess it all up and sabotage them.

02:40: Amy Poehler has said that there would be “no ‘Anchorman’, no Wes Anderson, and no Lonely Island” if “Sabotage” did not exist.