Friday, May 04, 2012


 This is a fantastic piece on The Beastie Boys and the late Adam Yauch that you've probably already seen linked to multiple times. It mirrors my own take on the group, that they went from 3 guys who had one-hit wonder written all over them to something much weirder, more collaborative, and joyful. RIP MCA.
Yauch wasn’t my favorite Beastie. That’d be Mike D, with whom I’d felt a kinship with ever since reading about how, during the debauched "Licensed to Ill" tour, Adam and Adam used to gang up and mess with him. I’d always felt like Ad-Rock was the best MC of the trio, adept at classic hip-hop shit-talking and bonkers referentialism, and possessor of a certain swag the other two couldn’t match. But it’s clear to me what Yauch was: Yauch was the leader. A small part of that was aesthetics; the premature graying hair, the permanent rasp. But it was also evident that the morality tale of the Beastie Boys — three genius New York City smartasses who grew out of Budweiser-crushing caricatures into three endlessly curious, wholeheartedly decent adults — was best represented by Yauch.

When I was younger I couldn’t see the point of MCA rapping about taking a sledgehammer and breaking his nine millimeter, or shouting out “all the mothers and the sisters and the wives and friends.” That shit wasn’t cool to me, or funny, which is mostly what I cared about back then. But MCA’s focus on unity and progression was at the heart of who the band was. Later, I would read the liner notes in the Beasties anthology, Sound of Science, for the track “Song for the Man,” a putdown of some macho street dudes, and it would make sense. Horovitz writes, “Listening to the lyrics of this song, one might say that the Beastie Boy ‘Fight for Your Right to Party’ guy is a hypocrite. Well, maybe; but I’d rather be a hypocrite to you than a zombie forever.” That was what Yauch represented, to the fullest.

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