Saturday, May 5, 2012

Three MC's & One "MCA:" The Life & Times of Adam Yauch (Beastie Boys, 1964-2012)


I was pretty bummed out yesterday afternoon when I first heard about the sudden passing of Adam "MCA" Yauch, after 3 years of fighting cancer. Growing up with 4 older cousins (I was born in 1987), I've been a huge Beastie Boys fan since I was 10-12... enjoying their music for as long as I can remember! They were the first to do a lot of things: NYC Punk, massive sampling on Paul's Boutique, white [Jewish] rappers, intricate Pop Culture referencing rhyme schemes, etc. Those of you who just know "Brass Monkey" and "Fight for Your Right" - Come on, let's get real; The Beastie Boys were so much more than that!


All the teenage debauchery aside, gruff-voiced MCA really seemed to grow into a fine young man, post License to Ill. Earnestly standing up for what his heart believed in: women's rights, Tibetan freedom, Hardcore Punk... mullets, basketball, skateboarding, film-making, creativity, Hip-Hop, and good, clean fun! Under MCA's direction, Beastie Boys managed to release 8 albums between 1986-2011 and were inducted into the Rock "N" Roll Hall of Fame just last month... essentially, shaping the musical/cultural identity of our generation. My deepest thoughts and prayers go out to Adam Yauch's family, Ad-Rock, Mike D. and anyone associated with Beastie Boys' inner circle. Rest In Beats, Adam "MCA" Yauch!



Excluding Jagged Little Pill and Fantasy, Paul's Boutique was the "first" real album that I bought with my own money and really got into. Everyone seems to have a favourite Beastie Boys album... whether it be License to Ill, Check Your Head, Hello Nasty, etc. with specific monuments and memories attached. In my eyes, Beastie Boys' second album (initially a commercial failure) is their magnum opus. Paul's Boutique was a righteous follow-up to License to Ill's alcohol-fueled, debauchery-filled PARTY anthems (1987). Meticulously constructed from roughly 105+ samples pain-stakingly assembled by production team, The Dust Brothers; The album features a few well-known tracks like "Hey Ladies" and "Shake Your Rump." Inter-woven with countless Pop Culture references and grafted against a bunch of old Funk-Soul samples. I could honestly talk about Paul's Boutique for days... I've read a book about it's creation, own the re-released CD version, and even did a college paper/project on it!


Over the years, I've endlessly listened to Paul's Boutique on repeat, trying to understand it's immensely well-crafted sound collage of sample sources. Honestly, it's still pretty hard to process. In today's world, it would be nearly impossible to [legally] release a similar record and even if you could, it would cost upward of $1 million to clear all of the obscure samples! Paul's Boutique essentially helped kick-start my ever-lasting love affair with all things Hip-Hop (sampling), Pop Culture, and Hardcore Punk. It's a record that I dearly love and still listen to on a regular basis. I can recite almost every lyric... it always has been and still is my favourite album. Over the course of the past 10-15 years, I feel like I've gotten to know Ad-Rock, Mike D. and MCA through their lyrics, videos, public image, etc. So, it kind of feels like losing a friend. Once again, Rest In Beats, Adam "MCA" Yauch. You lived one Hell of a life in your short 47 years: Ideally, the perfect mix of recklessness and refinement! That's my personal Beastie Boys story/experience. Check out a few music videos featuring some of MCA's greatest bars below... read a handful of celebrity stories, and feel free to leave yours down in the "comments" section. Remember, "You've Gotta Fight for Your Right to Party!"



This is mid-80's Madonna we're talking about here. Basically the most desired woman in the world. The Beasties opened her Like a Virgin tour, almost getting kicked out because Madonna's audience hated them. Here's Yauch in that SPIN oral history: "Russell [Simmons] came up to me and said, 'They're going to kick you off the tour. If you want to stay, you need to go ask Madonna.' I went into Madonna's dressing room and was like, 'You know, we really like being on the tour. Can we stay?' And it worked." And here's Madonna: "I think I made out with Adam Yauch once in their dressing room."

- Tom Breihan (Stereogum)


"...that was my first taste in tour life in america. everything that i've ever learned and applied to this day started with this tour:

custom backdrops can add a sense of drama to the stage? that tour. lights are just as an important element as the music? that tour. "the opening act cannot be louder than the headliners!!!!" ha ha we heard that EVERYNIGHT. setting the musical soundtrack in the audience with a cool mix of songs or actually djn music before the show starts? that tour. quadrophonic sound and the engineer being just as important as the band itself? that tour. rider?! wait i can have a fresh box of peanut butter capn crunch AND 6 fresh bottles of dr. bonner soap everynight?!?!!? that tour. record shopping in EVERY CITY?!?! that tour. you mean each member has his own tour bus?! THAT keeps the peace? that tour. wait you have a separate room to practice music in backstage?!?! that tour. this basketball court goes wherever you go?!?! that tour. you determine the dinner everynight on the rider?!? that tour. you mean this go kart racing track is gonna stay open for us after midnight when the show is over? that tour. you don't have to do the same songs every night? like a new show every other day? that tour."

- ?uestlove (The Roots)


"I was very sad to hear the news of Adam Yauch's death yesterday. We looked up to the Beastie Boys a lot when we were starting out and how they maintained artistic control making wicked records but still were on a major label, and the Tibetan Freedom Concerts they organized had a very big influence on me personally and the way Adam conducted himself and dealt with it all impressed me a lot. He was a mellow and v smart guy. May he rest in peace."

- Thom Yorke (Radiohead)

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