I could have gone with a hundred different Beastie Boys videos or tracks to lead this post off, but I decided “No Sleep ‘Til Brooklyn” was fitting for a couple of reasons. The opening skit they perform embodies their entire career. They are 100% hip-hop but have blended many genre lines since their inception. Plus this is arguably their most recognizable song of their vast catalog.
I can remember back home in Rhode Island almost never hearing Beastie Boys records on the rap stations, maybe when I was in high school and they’d throw this song on the lunch-time-rewind shows. But WAAF in Boston played their fair share of Beasties, as did WHJY in Providence, both stations predominantly rock-based. There is no editorializing here, it just always struck me as odd that it worked out that way back home. But, that’s radio. And they do fucked up things.
My best friend from elementary school through high school and I would rock his brother’s Beastie Boys tapes until they wore out. I remember buying him Paul’s Boutique for his birthday one year. At Strawberries for probably $19.99. I remember he got the Anthology for Christmas the year that came out and we made his mom play it in their Suburban. We would listen to the Beastie Boys and stare at his posters of Jenny McCarthy scantily clad for hours on end. The trio was on in the background during our first halfies, that’s for sure. Shout out to Jenny McCarthy, where ever the fuck you are. My brother and I would blast Ill Communication at inaudible levels whenever we had the house to ourselves. The liner notes had lyrics in those days so “Get it Together” was one of the first rap songs I can recall reciting. I can’t believe I can still remember all the lyrics. Whenever someone says “the phone is ringing” to this day, no matter the instance, I finish and say “Oh my god!” in my best Q-Tip voice.
Fast forward to this morning, May 4th, 2012. I slept in because my insomnia kicked in full speed late last night, so I hit the snooze at 9:00 A.M. I briefly checked my phone as usual and saw all the nonsense I get every morning from Living Social and random Twitter updates. Nothing of any importance. Back to slumber I go. When I got up for good about an hour and a half later I checked my phone and saw a text from my close friend Angela who knows of my love for Beastie Boys, or at least my appreciation of them, and a fellow huge music fan herself. It read: “Adam Yauch what the fuck.” I asked,”Adam Yauch what??” in reply, but why else would she have texted me that exact phrase.
I knew as soon as I read it. My heart sank before I had a chance to get out of bed and drink a glass of water, before I could get the shit out of my eyes, before I even sat up. I immediately hit my Twitter time line to skim all the up-to-the-minute reports and cats where already quoting MCA lines and saying R.I.P. “Rest In Peace?,” I was thinking, “how can we be saying that already, I JUST found out. Let it sink in for Christ’s sake.” I scrolled through more trying to find a glimpse of hope, wishing it was another “Twitter-death” that some sick fuck somewhere started. But HipHopDX.com’s account verified it and then AP and all the other news outlets. Fuck. It’s true. The first actual words out of my mouth today, ten minutes after battling the news in bed, telling my girlfriend who was at her desk working already; “MCA died.” She of course already knew.
I see the public outcry when celebrities die all the time and I almost always find it foolish. I’ve never once been sad when someone in the public eye passed on. When Guru died I wasn’t sad. I was extremely angry, but not sad. I get sad when his anniversary comes around each year now, but I think the anger out weighed the sadness at the outset. Mainly because he was victim of a “Twitter-death” himself before his passing, so it took awhile to set in. Then all that bullshit that Solar put out seemingly five minutes later. That dude needs to be in the ground, not Guru or Yauch.
But there was something different about MCA. He was there in rap-form with me and my brother, with me and my best friend Joe, for so many years. And he was with me well into my blogging career, always in heavy rotation, many years later. Songs and albums almost as old as me, still spinning in my car, computer, and headphones. It finally hit me that he was gone once I tried to open the ‘fridge and get my day officially started. It made me realize that a piece of my childhood died. Which is the most cliché thing I’ve ever written but that’s the only way to explain it. I was in a funk all day, removed from my reality and distant.
I got emotional a second time when I texted my friend Susie about it. I knew her and her husband Michael, who looks a lot like MCA, are big fans too. Beastie Boys had come up numerous times throughout our friendship and she mentioned to me one of the first times she got in my car, I had one of their albums playing. “That’s when I knew you were awesome!,” she said. Which was easily one of the nicest things someone has said to me, and, hyperbole or sincere, I cried in a god-damned coffee shop upon reading it.
MCA, Ad Rock, and Mike D, and a little later Mix Master Mike, grew up with me. Whether that’s fanboy-dom, or being a “Stan” (that pains me, by the way, that Eminem of all people has is credited with that popular hip-hop vernacular … I digress) or whatever, it’s true. Through puberty, first all-nighter, first drink, first joint, first drive with my own license, first car, first apartment, my trip across the country, the pages of my blog, and most certainly my wedding, whenever that jump-off goes down. Oh and can’t forget karaoke. Yikes.
My thoughts are with Adam Yauch’s family and everyone’s life he’s influenced. A girl chasing, Brass Monkey drinking hoodlum, to a non-swearing, non-violent mostly vegan Buddhist, MCA transformed before our eyes and never once lost a fan for it or lost hip-hop credibility. These guys were and are my heroes and Adam Yauch will be sorely missed in the music world. And from now on, every time I hear a Beastie Boys song, more than ever before I’m going to revisit their time spent with me over the years.