Sideshow Podcast: 40 Ounces of Trouble: Mike D Sets the Record Straight

Tuesday, June 10, 2014 - 08:00 AM

Mike D of the Beastie Boys Mike D of the Beastie Boys (Fabio Venni/flickr)

In the mid-90s, rappers from the East Coast to the West convinced an entire generation to consume malt liquor in “40s”— 40-ounce glass bottles that delivered the alcohol equivalent of a six-pack in one serving. Songs like N.W.A.’s “8 Ball” glamorized the cheap, potent beer alternative. The brewery that made St. Ides exploited the rap-malt liquor connection, putting all the stars of the era in commercials, from Ice Cube to Notorious B.I.G. to Snoop Dogg, who memorably slow jammed his tribute to 40s:

At their peak, 40s made headlines and spawned editorials. The Los Angeles Times in 1992 explored the widespread backlash to malt liquor, claiming  that “shrewd advertising in ethnic neighborhoods” had “turned it into a status symbol.” Soon, though, 40s disappeared from hip-hop. “Right in the mid- to late-90s, rap culture took a serious turn from sitting in the hood drinking a 40 to sitting in the club drinking champagne,” says Besha Rodell, an LA Weekly food writer who penned the first history of the drink, “40 Ounces to Freedom.” “Rap culture became about having money. There’s nothing fancy about drinking malt liquor.”

But the 40 survives. I still like my high school drink of choice — Olde English malt liquor mixed with orange juice, a concoction known as the Brass Monkey. I was introduced to it by friends who pointed out that it was the subject of a Beastie Boys song, also called “Brass Monkey.” But when I called Mike D to talk about his inspiration, he was confused: malt liquor? In a Brass Monkey? It turns out that the Brass Monkey he was singing about was a cocktail comprised of orange juice, vodka, and dark rum, which came premixed in a can. “Homeboy,” Mike said, “have you ever used Google in your life?”



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Comments [11]

Adrian from Toronto

Big ups to Jolly and all the crazy Edward 40 hands at DEL. You've come a long way from slamming to Hello Nasty in '97. Keep it strong.

Jun. 13 2014 02:47 PM

and then i found $5

Jun. 11 2014 05:59 PM

Sorry to hear that, Kerr! Here's one of my favorite GIFs:

Jun. 11 2014 05:57 PM
Kerr Lockhart from Teaneck NJ

What godawful topics. Gifs which you have to describe because you can't show them? Cheap alcohol that degrades an art form. I have so many good podcasts to listen to, I'm glad to be able to know right away I can completely skip the jejeune and puerile SIDESHOW. Find something more productive to do.

Jun. 11 2014 05:36 PM

Thanks Logan from New York!

Jun. 11 2014 02:32 PM
Logan from New York

Adam from Park Slope if you listened to the show you'd learn that 8 Ball can also refer to Olde English 800 malt liquor.

Jun. 11 2014 12:06 PM

I'm pretty sure that if Mike D ever called me Homeboy (or Homegirl, in my case), even taking the piss, I could die happily.

That said, I've never seen it in cans, but we used to buy it in bottles all the time. That shiz was delicious!

Jun. 10 2014 03:11 PM
Adam from Park Slope

wont even listen after reading the summary, so dumb some hip people are. also, 8ball refers to cocaine stuff, son

Jun. 10 2014 01:57 PM
NahDog from NYC

Dude, it didn't come in a can... at least not only. If came in glass flask-type pint bottles, and other sizes as well. Shit was good too son!

Never saw it in cans... listen to the Beastie lyrics: "You got the BOTTLE, I got the cup..."

Jun. 10 2014 12:58 PM

I like jokes, Greg!

Jun. 10 2014 12:52 PM
Greg from new mexico

"Google is second to bing"?... according to what metric? Advertising? Microsoft hasn't made anything that works for over eight years.

Jun. 10 2014 11:59 AM

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