Friday, May 4, 2012

Adam "MCA" Yauch 1964-2012

I still remember the day my cousin brought home the Beastie Boys' License To Ill, she immediately took me to the bathroom to look at the album in the mirror. Looking at the cover, I realized the meaningless characters "3MTA3", flipped to spell "EatMe" and we both giggled hoping no one would find out. They had me hooked and I hadn't even heard a note.

As she played the album in my room, I could hardly contain myself. Every song blasted through the speakers, every beat made me want to dance, and every line made me wish I was as cool as them. For the next 4 hours I played Paul Revere, trying to mimic their voices and memorize each line. I was 8.

Over the last 20+ years, I've been a fan of the Beastie Boys, admiring their skills, researching every name dropped in a verse and appreciating their efforts to make this world a better place. One of my first posts here was 3 years ago when Adam "MCA" Yauch announced he had cancer. Sadly, he lost that battle this morning, he was 47 years old.

Adam's raspy voice and signature style are part of hip-hop history, that's a fact. His distorted bass riff on Sabotage is embedded in my generation's DNA. More importantly, his efforts to raise awareness about Tibet and his subsequent benefit concerts ushered in a new level of social consciousness. It may seem like an accepted idea now, but he was fighting back in 1994.

The most amazing thing about him was his ability to try and teach you something without ever being a preacher. Listen to Sure Shot, between its ridiculous flute sample and some of their best lines, he adds "I want say a little something that's long overdue/The disrespect to women has got to be through/To all the mothers and the sister and the wives and friends/I want to offer my love and respect 'til the end." Try finding that on a #1 album today.

No disrespect to Mike D. or AdRock, but on some of their best songs you'll find MCA leading the charge, either by opening the song or handling the hook. I've often wondered if they heard him on Stand Together and just gave up, like 'No way, we're touching that.' They can be heard coming in with 15 seconds left on the song!

For all the songs he started, nothing can compare to the way he ended Professor Booty, my all-time favorite track. It should be taught as Diss Track 101. Changing flows and working one of the dopest transitions ever, it breaks my heart to know I'll never hear him again.

Too many times people get immortalized simply because they were a celebrity; offering no actual worth or change to those around them. Adam "MCA" Yauch was a pioneer, a philanthropist and an incredibly talented individual. He was above hip-hop, above punk, above alternative, above indie. He was a person I've looked up to for so long and I don't plan on stopping any time soon.

1 comment:

  1. Fuck Yeah brother. Beautifully said. When I met you back in '97 I quickly learned that you were down with the Beastie Boys. I knew we were going to be friends.