“I can’t stand it, I know you planned it
I’m-a set it straight, this Watergate
But I can’t stand rockin’ when I’m in this place
Because I feel disgrace because you’re all in my face
But make no mistakes and switch up my channel
I’m Buddy Rich when I fly off the handle
What could it be — it’s a mirage
You’re scheming on a thing, that’s sabotage”
This song is one of the best things to come out of 1994! “Sabotage” was in heavy rotation on radio, Mtv, and on almost every mixtape (yes they actually existed) I had at the time. So much to love starting with MCA’s distorted bass riff intro, to Ad-Rock’s lyrics and delivery, to the badass 70’s crime drama inspired video directed by Spike Jonze that was robbed of an MTV VMA.
I always speculated what the song was about, but it wasn’t until the Beastie Boys Autobiography (great read) was released in 2018 that they actually explained what the lyrics to “Sabotage” are about. The track was going to be an instrumental because they couldn’t come up with the right lyrics. Then Ad-Rock basically wrote the lyrics as a diss track aimed at Mario Caldatto Jr., their long time audio engineer, because he kept pushing them to finish a track. Thank you Mario C.