What I really want to create is a not-for-profit Unofficial Biography of The Beastie Boys that is an audio version only, meaning I would have to personally rap you the chapters. But instead you get this for now:
It's been a couple weeks since Adam Yauch's death and I still can't seem to get over it---the mourning of my own adolescent years, the loss of his deep, husky voice, the music and beats he created--and the loss of an admirable man whose evolution we can watch anytime we want thanks to youtube: his crazy years fighting for his right to party, falling down all over the stage in ridiculous antics, barely able to get through an interview without losing focus-- to his metamorphosis into heightened lyrics and ideas about feminism, social justice and Buddhism.
I also feel for his brothers--Mike D and Ad Rock who also changed their frat boy lifestyles--Mike D became a vegetarian and Ad Rock took an opportunity at the VMA's to speak out about sexual assault against women, and all three got political with messages about the plight of Tibetans in their struggle for freedom and why the U.S. should enforce non-violent means to resolve conflicts. I can't imagine the camaraderie they must have shared--their job was literally finishing each other's sentences. They got rich and famous together, traveled the world together, they all got married to cool, smart women, they grew older together (and so gracefully!). Although the videos for Sabotage and Intergalactic are among my favorites--and I love the humor and visuals of "Nathaniel Hornblower" (aka MCA) who directed many of them (Sasquatch kidnapping them in Triple Trouble and the crazy epic chase in Body Movin'), my real favorites are the videos where it's just the three of them together--barely inches apart, like a Hydra creature, swaying and rocking to the beat as one. You can also see the differences in their personalities like a character study for a novel--MCA as the laid back leader with the gruff, "wise" voice, Ad Rock with the highest pitched voice and the most energy--and best dancer, and Mike D like an intermediary between them. It feels so juvenile, these boys playing pretend, rapping to the camera, but it's also profound. For three people to rise above the commercialization of their art, the changes and growth of three decades, the ebb and flow of life and still be the best of friends, gifted musicians and MCs, intuitively bobbing and moving around each other on stage and in their videos--it doesn't happen every day, or even every decade.
Here are my favorite videos showcasing their brotherhood, and in their words "just three MCs and one DJ."
1. So What Cha Want
Walking through the woods was never more fun. Just the three of them rhymin' and rappin'.
2. So What Cha Want Live
This is even better---this is one of the best live videos I've seen of theirs--really playing off each other. And their energy level is through the roof! Even MCA who usually channels his energy differently by hanging back and letting the other two jump around more is right there with them.
There are other people in the band and it's not one where they're crowded in front of a fisheye lens, but playing music together is symbiotic and you can feel their connection here--not to mention their versatility. Ad Rock (Adam Horovitz), said that when he wrote 'Gratitude' he showed it to MCA (Adam Yauch) who liked it a lot and Ad Rock said it meant a lot to him to get Yauch's approval. They were going through a transition together during this "Check Your Head" era--and they emerged on the other side, friendships intact. "What's gonna set you free? Look inside and you'll see."
4. Three MCs and One DJ
This makes it seem like the best times of their lives were hanging out in a basement rapping with each other.
5. Right Right Now Now
The video begins with their arms linked in a circle. And it continues with a series of cameras circling them as they move around this one small spot. They spoke out against taking any corporate sponsorship and they're wearing what looks like "home made" style Beastie Boys shirts. It's fascinating just to watch them work together--and that's what the song--a very political song-- is about. Who better than The Beasties to tell us how to work together?
If the video has been disabled, click here to go youtube (it will open in a new window): Right Right Now Now
6. Ch-Check it Out
I have to add this live one. They are the masters of what I call (and maybe other people do too?) "The Walking Fisheye." They do their classic walk-and-rap to a camera with a fisheye lens, one of their signature styles. They had to censor their own song to perform this on Letterman--the chorus is not "Let's turn this, turn this party out." They've done "The Walking Fisheye" so many times, as soon as they emerge from the Subway exit they glide down that sidewalk, never tripping over each other, always in a groove like a choreographed dance. They know they've got it down--"So believe it when I say I'm no better than you, except when I rap so I guess it ain't true."
Thanks for letting me obsess over you and your bros, MCA. You are greatly missed.
News from the Captain's Quarters.