Saturday, 5 May 2012

What the Beastie Boys (and Adam MCA Yauch) mean to me: Beastie Boy's Baby, Toddler, Kid Clothes

There's Nothing Here That's Not Been Said Before
But I Put It Down Now So I'll Be Sure
To Solidify My Own Views And I'll Be Glad If It Helps
Anyone Else Out Too
I woke up this morning to hear some terribly sad news. Adam ‘MCA’ Yauch, founding member of Beastie Boys has, at the young age of 47, lost his battle against cancer. 

At the tender age of 17 MCA, Michael "Mike D" Diamond and Adam "Adrock" Horovitz formed a band called the Beastie Boys. How hilarious that these cheeky boys would become one of the most respected groups in Hip Hop- a culture not generally known for including white Jews (and eventually, Buddhists). The Beastie’s would go on to sell over 40 million records, release four #1 albums–including the first hip hop album ever to top the Billboard 200, win three Grammys, and the MTV Video Vanguard Lifetime Achievement award.

MCA lived long enough to see the Beastie Boys be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame (although he was too ill to attend the ceremony). Introducing the group, Public Enemy rapper Chuck D said “The Beastie Boys are indeed three bad brothers who made history, they brought a whole new look to rap and hip-hop. They proved that rap could come from any street, not just a few."
Not just a musician and rapper, MCA was also a passionate activist, founding the Milarepa Foundation (the foundation that produced the Tibetan Freedom Concert benefit- the biggest benefit concert on U.S. soil since 1985's Live Aid); and a talented director- under the alias ‘Nathanial Hörnblowér’ MCA directed heaps of awesome Beastie Boys videos, and also founded the film production and distribution company Oscilloscope Laboratories (which Banksy fans may recognise as being the distributor of ‘Exit Through The Gift Shop’).

Like so many others, the first Beastie Boys song I ever heard was Fight For Your Right. I was in high school and to be honest, I was not interested in rap or hip-hop at all. The closest I had ever come was really digging Nate Dog and Warren G’s Regulate, or Salt’n’Peppa’s Whattaman, neither of which are particular good examples of either genre (in my defense I was a kid, and only had access to commercial radio or TV). But there was something about FFYR- a little bit of punk, a little bit of reckless energy and rude rebellion- that struck a chord with my emotional state at the time. And yet, FFYR was just a joke song, right?  

Years pass and I meet new people, run around in different circles of friends. In high school I listened to grunge, industrial and alternative music exclusively; when I went to university my circle of experience expanded as I met other creative types, and as they shared with me their influences so my interests expanded. The Beastie Boys grew up too, releasing albums far superior to Licence to Ill- albums such as Paul’s Boutique, Check Your Head, Ill Communication and Hello Nasty; thanks to which I discovered that no amount of moshing, eyeliner wearing or moping makes one feel quite as grand as some quality ass shaking. The Beastie Boys, it turns out, know how to make body moving happen. Whacky layers of chunky beats and funk melody, serious/not serious raps and hilarious film clips- no other musicians have gotten me hip shaking, thrusting and body rockin' like the Beastie Boys. Their music was more than a license to ill- they were having fun, and they invited you to join them. Seeing them live was testament to that fact- grown men in matching tracksuits clearly loving their lives.

One of the greatest things about the Beastie's is that unlike a lot of other hip-hop or punk, it wasn't about being 'street' or 'poor' or 'lower class citizens'. It wasn't about class at all but rather about movement, community, activity, heart - it was DIY at it's purest. Three guys using whatever tools they had on hand to make some noise and share the good times: in their belt they had the beat and pace of New York City, a punk rock ethos, the colourful language of exuberant youth, and the rhythms and rhymes of hip-hop. They used these things to build an amazing musical and lyrical legacy. Their can-do and make-do attitude infused their music with a kind of freedom and energy that made them stand out from the crowd. It is this quality which makes me feel that the Beastie Boy's are wonderful role model to share with my son. See Hunter, you can use whatever you have at hand to enrich your life and the lives of others- just be bold, share, laugh, be nice and keep it going full steam.

They explored some pretty zen concepts too- Adam, being a sensitive soul no doubt had a hand in that. They were pop-culture adventurers, wearing sneaks while exploring new lyrical landscapes, rushing forward to greet the world in track suits and t-shirts, forging paths between genres and making new friends everywhere they went- just look at how many famous faces appear in their most recent film clip to see what I mean (Steve Buscemi, Chloë Sevigny, Kirsten Dunst, Zach Galifianakis, Orlando Bloom, Will Ferrell, John C. Reilly, and Jack Black to name a few). They shared the wealth too, using their record label Grand Royal to share musicians like Ben Lee, Jimmy Eat World, Atari Teenage Riot and At The Drive In with us.

These guys got older, and despite that- or maybe because of it- they kept releasing great music- fresh music- relevant music. The Beastie Boys took all the power, energy and integrity of Punk Rock and distilled it through the language of funk and hip-hop to create something new and unstoppable, and in the process, introduced legions of punks to hip-hop and rappers to punk. I could say that the Beastie Boy's leapt into my life declaring that they wanted to fight for their right to party, and then backed it up with over twenty years of doing exactly that.  But it's a bit twee to finish on that note. I could instead finish along the lines that he lived the life he dreamed and for that am grateful. But that doesn't sound right to me either. I guess when it comes down it Adam Yauch made some noise. 
I like that.

If you have a little Beastie Boy, or Girl, they might like to body rock the playpen in these Beastie Boys themed clothes:

Via 8Ball



Via Babywit

I once was lost but now I'm found
The music washes over and you're one with the sound,
Sandi D

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