May He Continue to Pass The Mic In the Next Life

Sad news today as Adam Yauch passed away from cancer he was diagnosed with in 2009.  I’m bummed.  Compared to other recent musician deaths (say Whitney or Amy), this one gets to me on a more personal level.  Not to lessen their passing, oh gosh, I’m starting to feel like Leslie Knope on Parks & Rec last night…

Anyway, this one feels different for me because I feel like I’ve lost a friend.  I grew up with the Beasties.  They were the musical equivalent of a childhood best friend.

Sometimes you’d fight and not speak.  I had a cassette of Licensed to Ill that got heavy rotation with my other hip hop cassette at the time, Tougher Than Leather.  I loved it, the crazy stories they told through their raps, the booming beats.  But then at some point, at the beginning of high school, I was really getting into stuff like Pink Floyd and Jimi Hendrix and I made up my mind that Licensed to Ill was crap.  I even thought about tossing the tape, but I didn’t.  So, for about a year and half , it sat there.  We weren’t on speaking terms.  Luckily, my musical horizons starting opening up again as I went through high school, and there was a reunion.

Sometimes, you lose track of them.  As you grow older, sometimes friendships drift apart as interests and personalities change.  After Ill Communication, which has some fine songs but lacked something as an album for me, I started turning attention to other hip-hop in the mid-90s (mostly “underground” East Coast hip-hop) and electronic music.  I paid attention to Body Movin’ and Intergalactic when they came out, but for the first time, I didn’t buy a Beasties release (Hello Nasty).  To the 5 Boroughs garnered even less attention from me.  I’d still go back to their old albums from time to time, remembering the good ol’ times we had.  When Hot Sauce Committee Part 2 came out, I picked it up on a whim and remembered why we’d gotten together so well all those years before.  The friendship was reinvigorated.  I think it’s a testament to how good their last album is that it could bring me full on back into their fold.  Sadly, often when friends start drifting apart, they continue on separate courses and never meet again.

But mostly, you have a hell of a fun time with them.  Listening on headphones to Licensed to Ill in the backseat of the car on long trips with the parents, taking the secret enjoyment of hearing the swearing, raps about beers and girls in the same way you’d snicker with a friend about a dirty joke you’d whisper to each other so your parents couldn’t hear.  For awhile in college me and my friend Marc (who also left us way too soon) were obsessed with Paul’s Boutique and would crank it up in our apartment and just start singing along with the Beasties.  I only got to see them once, at the Tibetan Freedom Concert in 98 in DC, a concert series dreamed up by the Beasties, more specifically by Adam Yauch.  Another fun memory, they didn’t disappoint.  Remember crushing up to the front to see them up close.  Hot, sweaty, cramped, and loved every minute of it.  Those moments with the Beasties are what I’m remembering today.

Yauch was the oldest of the Beasties, and I always thought he was the one in their songs who was the glue, the straight man (mostly) to the zany Mike D and youthful Ad Rock.  I also always appreciated the way he was able to come face-to-face with the remorse brought on by his Buddhist faith towards some of the unfortunate lyrics of their early materials.  It’s not often that people are willing to admit their mistakes, moreso in the entertainment industry, so I always thought that was reflective of his character.  With his death, I can’t see the other two Beasties continuing on, but who knows.  As I mentioned above, their last album was genuinely good, a remarkable achievement for a group that’s been around over 25 years!  I think he and the group still would have had some good music left in them.

I had talked today with my friend MeadowMuffins, and we thought in any blog post we’d want to post a song that was illustrative of the Beasties, if not their biggest hits.  Two songs came to mind for me, Egg Man, which originates from the band’s hardcore roots and is full of the humor, beats and varied samples (ranging from Psycho to Cheech and Chong) that exemplify their sound.  Couldn’t find a good video for that clip, so instead I’ll leave you with So What’cha Want from Check Your Head.  Killer riff/beat and rhymes and a simple video (directed by Adam) that showcases the three’s camaraderie.  Thanks Adam (and Beasties) for all the good times, you lived a full life.  You will be missed, friend.

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2 Responses to “May He Continue to Pass The Mic In the Next Life”

  1. Got More Hits Than Sadaharu Oh – Adam Yauch 1964-2012 | Meadow Muffins of the Mind Says:

    […] as my buddy hammockrus noted, the death of MCA – and thus the death of the Beastie Boys – hit particular hard last […]

  2. RIP David Bowie | Nothing to Write Home About Says:

    […] death today hasn’t hit me in quite the same way that Adam Yauch’s did because I haven’t spent as much time with Bowie’s music and so there’s not […]

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