Friday, May 4, 2012

RIP Adam Yauch: Memories of the Indefatigable Beastie Boys

Posted By on Fri, May 4, 2012 at 10:29 AM

The Beastie Boys — hardcore-punks-turned-rappers — somehow have preserved their youthful punk rock mentality across eight near-perfect albums, gigantic world tours and films. Slowly, surely, with ironclad beats and hilarious, cutting lyrics — the Beastie Boys chipped away at the discussion of race and street cred in the hip-hop world, becoming one of the most trailblazing groups of all time. But today, the band lost it's conscience. Adam Yauch — MCA, a gruff voice among his much more nasally friends — died today. Yauch, 47, had been undergoing treatment for cancer since 2009.

The news was a gut punch to many of us writers here at the Inlander — which tells you a lot about our general age range and racial backgrounds. Mostly children of the 1980s, we watched as hip-hop trends rose and fizzled: gangster rap, joke rap. But the Beastie Boys never played into any of those trends. They were always unique, and always themselves.

We've collected some of our favorite memories of the legendary hip-hop trio  as a way of paying our respects to Yauch. Feel free to add your own in the comments.

"As long as I've had headphones, the Beastie Boys have been there. There was Paul's Boutique — back when I still had a pink bedroom and a giant Walkman and an older brother with an allowance. There was Ill Communication — a tape I wore out in my old Volvo as I peeled out of parking lots with my friends. I'm almost positive that was on during my first fender bender. Hello Nasty carried me from high school until college — and made me realize, with samba songs like "Song for Junior," that a good band can really, truly do whatever the f—k they want.

It was around that time that the Beastie Boys became more than twitchy rappers from New York City. They became activists: celebrities telling all us kids that the world was so much bigger than we were. Adam Yauch took it one step further, founding the Milarepa Fund and the legendary, absolutely perfect Tibetan Freedom concerts. I'll never forget seeing a photo of Yauch standing in a crowd of tiny, bald Tibetan monks — a white silk scarf tied around his neck. He was, until the end, in solidarity with the Tibetan people. A punk rock kid from the dirty New York streets — he was changing the world until the very end."

— LEAH SOTTILE, Music Editor

"I remember I used to sing "Girls" with my friend Samantha. We would run around our parents houses screaming "Girls! I like the way that they walk! And it's chill to hear them talk!" It was maybe the second time my mother asked if I was a lesbian..."

— JORDY BYRD, Listings Editor

"Back in 1998, I saw the Beastie Boys at Key Arena in Seattle on the Intergalactic tour. I had essentially planned my entire summer around this show because, after all, it was the freaking Beastie Boys and I was 15 years old. After a devastatingly incredible opening set from A Tribe Called Quest, the Boys came out onto a rotating stage dressed in matching jumpsuits and proceeded to turn the floor of the arena into a frenetic whirlpool of mosh pit insanity. I was a willing and enthusiastic participant of said mosh pit. Later in the set, they dropped their microphones and played an instrumental set of funky jazz numbers. I remember being blown away with how Yauch played a stand-up bass. These guys weren't a gimmicky rap group, they were musicians, I realized.

I saw the Beastie Boys again in Long Beach in 2004. It was amazing, but nothing like that show back in '98. Of the hundreds of live shows I've seen, that one still sits at the very, very top. I always thought I'd see the Boys again sometime, but now, obviously, I won't. We'll miss you MCA."

— MIKE BOOKEY, Culture Editor

"Licensed to Ill was the first tape I ever bought myself. My real first tape was a recording I made of my uncle's copy of Def Leppard's Hysteria, but I generally don't claim that. Licensed to Ill was the first I spent my own barely-earned allowance money on.

This would have been in '87, about a year after it came out. I remember I had seen the "No Sleep Til Brooklyn" video a million times on MTV and I remember trying to decide between Licensed and George Michael's Faith, which says something about what an interesting and varied time for mainstream pop music the '80s were.

It wasn't until way later — late '90s after I'd gotten into other hip-hop groups — that I went back and got their second album, Paul's Boutique. That album was and continues to be a revelation for me. I felt, upon hearing it, like I understood where the last decade of hip hop had come from. I'm not a hip-hop scholar, but that album feels like one of the moments that rap history hinges on. It took a few years, but the industry changed because of it."


"During the Jersey Shore summers of my early teenage years, I remember cruising around on my bicycle listening to the Beastie Boys' album, Licensed to Ill. It was the quintessential soundtrack for anyone with more hormones than brain cells: "Paul Revere," "Girls," "Fight for Your Right to Party," "Brass Monkey."  Spanish Fly? What?
I never got to see them live, though I was supposed to a music festival in 2009. They'd canceled because of Yauch's cancer, and Jay-Z filled in, opening with a solid take of "No Sleep Till Brooklyn."

Solid, yes. But no replacement."

— JOE O'SULLIVAN, Staff Writer

"I will always think of him in the "Fight For Your Right" video. That video is a masterpiece. I learned that nerds and parents hate to party."

— CHRIS BOVEY, Art Director

"I wake up to MCA's upside-down face every morning, my favorite part of my favorite poster. He will always be my favorite Beastie, the best word-spinner in the group, and that voice... I can't even remember not knowing who he was. His verse in "The Sounds of Science" is among the group's finest recorded moments, and I don't know if I'll ever hear him spit the unforgettable "that's right, my name's YAUCH" without needing a brief moment of silence. I swear to Christ, if I see one person on Facebook complain about his eulogies, I will unload."


Tags: , , ,

Dreamworks Animation: The Exhibition @ Northwest Museum of Arts & Culture

Tuesdays-Sundays, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Continues through Sept. 11
  • or

About The Author

Michael Bowen

Michael Bowen is a former senior writer for The Inlander and a respected local theater critic. He also covers literature, jazz and classical music, and art, among other things.