"I give thanks for this world as a place to learn, and for this human body that I know I've earned"
-Adam Yauch, 1954-2012
MCA's passing comes as a shock. Adam Yauch was diagnosed with cancer back in '09. I really thought he'd beat it. I realize now how naïve I was, but Yauch had this habit of reinventing himself while remaining true to himself. MCA was an entirely different individual on almost every Beastie Boys album.
Pollywog Stew's Adam Yauch was a tried and true punk rocker of the early '80s ilk. License To Ill's MCA was the leather jacket wearing, sleazy dude at the kegger spiking the punch. On Paul's Boutique he was a psychotomimetic voyager, rhyming and tripping on LSD. On Check Your Head I learned he was a solid bassist with incredible taste. Ill Communication Adam found enlightenment, a fretless bass, directorial skills and a personal mission - to save Tibet. I hate to say this, but, it's true - I would have no idea about Tibet if it wasn't for him.
As Yauch grew up and grew old, so did I. My first tape was 1986's License To Ill. I played that thing until it got warped and watery sounding. I was seven, and I had no idea what they did to the sheriff's daughter with that whiffleball bat -- I'm still not sure on that. There's something charming about the human cartoons on that album that made it a classic. The Beasties pulled off the great Rock 'n' Roll Swindle of hip-hop. The idea that a Jewish punk rocker from Brooklyn could not only excel, but redefine hip-hop is incredible.
Besides the Beatles, they are the only band I've loved as a little kid that I still love now. I'm 100% sure millions of other people feel the same way. They are equally respected by rockers, punks, b-boys, hipsters, metalheads, and IDM fans. The Beasties were a human encyclopedia of wit, pop culture, and musical love.
MCA was one of the most gifted lyricists to ever rock a mic sans pantyhose. His rhymes have been stuck in my head for decades. Every time I notice a new grey hair in the mirror, I say to myself, "I got more rhymes than I got grey hairs, and that's a lot, cuz I got my share."
Let's not forget his wonderful work for Grand Royal magazine. I was cleaning out some stuff from my parents' house a few weeks ago and I found my copy of Grand Royal's fifth issue; the Miami bass issue! The Beasties and friends compiled a meticulously documented 40-page history of South Florida bass music, all out of love.
The B-Boy's magazine was the definitive source for fashion, politics, and culture. The magazine was written in a way that was playful and intelligent -- check out Yauch's interview with the Dalai Lama.
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As "High Plains Drifter" blasts out of my Office Depot brand speakers, I wonder who - if anybody - will carry the torch now that Yauch is gone and the Beastie Boys are a man down. Adam Yauch, the rapper, the producer, the bassist, the DJ, the director, the publisher, the activist, the writer, the thinker, and the hornblower - has left a lot of shoes to fill.
We will miss you.