Back when the Beastie Boys formed in the summer of 1981, they weren’t a rap group yet — they were a teenage hardcore punk band, one of many in their home state of New York. Initially formed from the ashes of the unfortunately named Young Aborigines, the first Beastie Boys lineup consisted of Mike Diamond, Adam Yauch, John Berry, and Kate Schellenbach, so yes, they technically had a “Beastie girl” in the lineup for a few years. (Schellenbach would later resurface in the 1990s as the drummer of the all-female alt-rock band Luscious Jackson.) But where did this newer, less offensive name come from anyway?
During a 2018 appearance on “The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon,” the Beasties’ surviving members, Mike D and Ad-Rock, promoted their band’s autobiography, “Beastie Boys Book,” and discussed several topics related to their long history, including their early days as a punk act (via Billboard). Talking about the origin of the group’s name, Mike D told Fallon that “Beastie” is an acronym for “boys, entering anarchistic states towards inner excellence.” He jokingly referred to it as a “stupid name,” though you’ve got to admit it — even if the phrase where the first half of the name originated doesn’t really make much sense, Beastie Boys is a much more tasteful name than Young Aborigines.