"Strictly Hand Held Is The Style I Go
Never Rock The Mic With The Panty Hose
I Strap On My Ear Goggles And I'm Ready To Go
'Cause At The Boards Is The Man They Call The Mario"- MCA
That's all I could think when the news that Adam Yauch passed started streaming through my various interweb machines last month. FUCK FUCK FUCK.
Rewind to 1994: I'm a weird, gawky 6th grader having a shitty time at the meanest middle school in the history of the planet, Elmwood Franklin. I was in the middle of the grunge explosion, trying to look older wearing flannel, caught between my Dad's old school rock and roll, my older cousin's Metal influence, hip hop on MTV, and the weird punk the kids used to play in Upton Hall at Buffalo State where my mother taught.....trying to forge some sort of an identity on the brink of adolescence with whatever underdeveloped musical sensibilities I had. (I wonder if kids today identify as deeply with music as we did back then....are there the "Bieber Kids" and "Katy Perry Kids" like there were metal heads, grunge kids, and goths etc. like when I was growing up? I fucking hope not. /modern music rage). I remember flipping on MTV one night and having my ears/eyes/mind absolutely fucking blown away by some dudes named The Beastie Boys' video for the song "Sabotage". That devastating opening riff, the siren on the roof of the car cruising through the streets of LA, and three dudes rolling around wearing hilarious outfits and shitty wigs? I turned the volume bar on the TV up to the end of the word VOLUME (serious Dad rule violation but I didn't give a fuck) and started involuntarily thrashing around my TV room like an animal. From that moment, I was hooked. I bought Paul's Boutique, Check Your Head, & License to Ill within two weeks (thanks to generous monetary contributions from my Uncle Frank and advances on my allowance). When Ill Communication FINALLY dropped, I played the CD until it broke.
The Beastie Boys represented an incredible amalgamation of every style of music I had ever liked or even heard up to that point: Hip Hop, Punk, Metal, Rock, Jazz, Soul, Reggae.....fucking everything you could ever think of, topped off with some weird Buddhist chants and intense activism. They were the one band that I always felt was really one of my own....it was intense, raw, fun, and not everyone liked them. I remember playing "Sabotage" on the 8th grade class stereo and getting dirty looks from half of my classmates. I relished it and hit repeat. Nobody fucked with the Beasties.
I know this is incredibly late and probably irrelevant in today's WHATCANYOUDOFORMENOWNEWTOPIC culture, but after waiting a month and change to write this, I finally have the heart to sit down and mourn on the page (which is what we do oh-so-well here at the Deeg). Adam Yauch was the centerpiece of a band that made me feel as close to music as I've ever felt. I know so many people who were touched by his/their music, it's so sad that stupid fucking cancer robbed us again of someone so daring, talented, and inspiring. So I know it's been a while since the tastemakers in popular culture stopped their MCA-hand wringing, but take another moment to sit back and reflect on what a gift it was to grow up (if you're our age) in the same time/space continuum as the Beastie Boys. They made our lives better. And here's hoping some 11 year old disenfranchised kid is stumbling upon Check Your Head right now and is having his or her mind blown.
"Good Times Gone And You Missed Them
What's Gone Wrong In Your System
Things They Bounce Just Like A Spalding
What'd You Think Did You Miss Your Calling
It's So Free This Kind Of Feeling
It's Like Life It's So Appealing
When You've Got So Much To Say
It's Called Gratitude, And Rhat's Right
Good Times Gone But You Feed It
Hate's Grown Strong You Feel You Need It
Just One Thing Do You Know
What You Think That The World Owes You
What's Gonna Set You Free
Look Inside And You'll See
When You've Got So Much To Say
It's Called Gratitude, And That's Right"- Beastie Boys