I’ve been mourning the loss of Adam Yauch aka MCA of The Beastie Boys since he passed on Friday. I didn’t realize how much I was effected by this, until several days later, I found myself nostalgic, listening to their music, watching performances on youtube and feeling a real loss of my childhood-adolescent and early-young adult years. I can’t say the Beasties were ever my favorite band. I never saw them live. But they were a part of my life the way music was always a part of my life—there was always music, and there were always the Beastie Boys. Who would say they didn’t like them? Who wouldn’t think they were cool? Who could say they didn’t represent our youthful growing, learning and changing ideas about ourselves and then the world?
From as far back as I can remember, they were always cool—not yet legendary like they are now—because they were still relevant and cutting edge and younger, but definitely just always so damn cool, in a way I was too young to even get. I remember the ‘Fight For Your Right’ video. It came out in 1986 and although I didn’t watch it then, when I was old enough to watch it (which, for me, was only a few years later as a little kid—sneaking in the living room to watch MTV and getting caught watching scandalous Billy Idol videos--what would be tame by today’s standards) I felt like I was part of the club. I got into “rock” early and liked that rock “swagger” wearing little jean jackets and passing on the bubble gum pop and going through my parents’ Who albums instead. The Beasties mix of rock guitar, SCREAMING and ‘old school’ hip hop appealed to me. These privileged, skinny white dudes were like a bridge from my rock preferences to my expanding ideas of hip hop and my continuing curiosity about it.
When I was pre-teen, I was still a little young to fully appreciate ‘Paul’s Boutique’ and ‘Sabotage.’ Later it would become my anthem for all my teen angst—at 1:52 when they scream WAHHHHHHH!—I would blast it in the car when I could finally drive—no one understands me except Mike D, Ad Rock and MCA!! (pretending I was drag racing through the backwoods streets of my hometown, when really, I was notorious for going the speed limit—and that’s what the Beastie Boys represented—we thought they were bad boys, but they weren’t really). It felt a little dangerous to like the Beasties and I hid their music from my parents, just in case.
When ‘Hello Nasty’ came out, I was in high school. They were older, and so was I. They were thinking about the greater issues of the world. So was I. They were starting to have messages about it. So was I. I had been really into 1960s music, vintage clothing, and the world my parents had grown up in. But ‘Hello Nasty’ brought me back into my own world. I couldn’t believe how ‘Intergalactic’ sounded—how could a song sound like that? My sister and I made up dances to it, over and over, it gave us such an adrenaline rush. It was futuristic and modern and cool and spacey and they were rapping ridiculous lyrics but with so much conviction. They were older and more mature. Their stage performances were more polished, they carried themselves differently. This is when they started wearing matching jumpsuits and I couldn’t tell if their movements were choreographed or intuitive with each other—a real ‘bromance’, they were separate but one. They were separate from us but we were one with them. The music was so much more complex. They seemed so intelligent—far from their days fighting for their right to party. I trusted them more and where they were taking us. I listened to that album over and over—when I went to college it was still the go-to album—everyone loved it.
Beasties in their jumpsuit era
Later, when I lived in NYC, I found myself in a city I had never been in, with a copy of “To the Five Boroughs” with a picture right on the cover of the city before my eyes. It was their most politically themed album and I was right there with them energetically, it was like my meta-physical map to the city and the time. And Adam talking about the situation in Tibet and the situation in the U.S. in a new era of The Patriot Act and terrorism and Bush and post-9/11, it was scary and confusing and infuriating—but I had my older bros to explain it to me.
I can’t remember a time when the Beastie Boys weren’t there and when they didn’t mean something to me and to my life. Losing Adam at only 47 (I can’t believe he was even 47—he seemed ageless, like he was always going to stay a “boy”) has made me feel how much time has passed, how much me and my generation have grown up and how much the older generations we looked up to have aged. But it also reminded me of how much I learned from them, how their music became a timeline for my own growth and how many good times were had by all. Keep on rockin’ and rappin’ Mike D and Adam H. And RIP Adam Y. Thanks for the memories.
The sound of music makin you insane
You can't explain to people this type of mind frame
Like a bottle of Chateau Neuf Du Pap
I'm fine like wine when I start to rap
We need body rockin, not perfection
Let me get some action from the back section
"I think that it's very important that the U.S. start to look to non-violent means to resolving conflicts"
I could dance to this song forever! Love it when Adam says "Like a pinch on the neck from Mr. Spock!"
Fun interview with Conan at the end.
Feminist dudes speaking up against sexual assault.
News from the Captain's Quarters.