I’m kind of a music blog and a lot of folks have commented to me on the death of Beastie Boys MCA, Adam Yauch. What’s my take, what do I have to say on it? Honestly not much. I was a fan of the Beasties. I grew up on Licensed To Ill as a soundtrack to my early years in High School. I saw the Beastie Boys once in my life and that was opening for Madonna in the 80′s. I was a kid then and so were they for the most part. I remember the concert vaguely. It was a long time ago. I remember them being not so great honestly. I thought it sounded like shit. The crowd wasn’t too into it because they were there to see Madonna. After seeing that performance I just never thought much of seeing them live again because in the early days of hip hop the live sound never was anywhere near as good as what was recorded. I think even to this day that stigma still resonates with me. Live Hip Hop at times can be great, don’t get me wrong but for the most part it rarely stands up to a very entertaining show.
As pioneers of the genre they took the live show to a new level over the years. Sadly not many hip hop acts followed the lead and still don’t to this day. They brought in instruments and talented DJ’s to create a live sound close to what was on the record. While there are a handful of hip hop artists that followed suit there are many more who more or less do rap karaoke. What I saw open for Madonna was rap karaoke. If you look at Beastie Boys performances through the years you see it evolve into a multimedia experience. That is why they were honored by the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. They defied racial divides and brought in a whole new audience to listen to hip hop. This cracker ass white boy never would have picked up a Public Enemy before the Beastie Boys. They helped bring Hip Hop to the mainstream and made it accessible to everyone.
When I think back on MCA in the media there isn’t too much. He was quiet. Adam Yauch was an example of how you can completely alter your direction (creative or spiritual) and find new success again and again. He took out the party part of Fight For Your Right and fought for the rights of those who needed it. Yauch was a practicing Buddhist. He became an important voice in the Tibetan independence movement. He created the Milarepa Fund, a non-profit organization devoted to Tibetan independence and organized several benefit concerts to support the cause including the Tibetan Freedom Concert. He was like this super reserved and quiet version of Bob Geldof. You never saw him in tabloids drunk, drugged out, stints in rehab, flipping off paparazzi or fucking the nanny. He lived his beliefs and stayed out of the attention of the media.
When I was invited to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony I was pretty excited to see the Beastie Boys perform. I was let down a little when I learned they would not be performing and Yauch was home sick. I didn’t realize he was going to pass away a couple weeks later. He went out the way he lived his life; quiet and out of the public eye. At the induction taking to the stage without his bandmate, Adam Horovitz – alongside Diamond and longtime DJ sidekick Mixmaster Mike – read out a statement from Yauch, who thanked the Beastie Boys’ fans, writing, “This induction is as much ours as it us yours.” He was a truly humble rock star, plain and simple. And with one more jab to Axl Rose I say that is why you accept an honor when presented to you. You never know what the future might hold. When I think of rock stars of past and present I can’t think of any other that lived their life with the honor and humility as Adam Yauch did. He will be missed. He was a pioneer and a true role model.