Sunday, May 06, 2012

No Sleep 'Til Brooklyn

For those of you that aren't aware, Adam Yauch, a.k.a MCA of Beastie Boys fame, died this weekend from complications with cancer. He was just 47 years old. Meanwhile, Justin Bieber and Chris Brown are still around to infiltrate the NY Times Best Seller list and win Grammy awards, respectively. Of course I use the word "respect" with the utmost distinction here. Seriously, FUCK CANCER.

Yauch's passing is really the first celebrity death to affect me this intensely. When Kurt Cobain committed suicide, I was listening to Nirvana, but I was very young and didn't quite grasp the impact they had made on the music business. Joe Strummer's death struck a chord with me, but I had just started getting really into The Clash and unfortunately hadn't yet discovered The Mescaleros, so while I had a huge mourning period over Strummer, I can't say that I was as deeply moved by this as I was by MCA. I wasn't a huge Michael Jackson or Whitney Houston fan, either- I was more shocked than saddened by those, since no one seemed to see them coming.

The closest I've come to a great depression over the demise of a music industry powerhouse was when Malcolm McLaren lost his battle with mesothelioma in 2010. Not only was he an artist in his own right, as well as one of the most famous music managers of all time, but he was one of my idols in the marketing world, and it took me a while to get over that one, especially when his death went largely ignored and People Magazine awarded their cover to Justin Bieber that week (again with this clown?).

I first found out that Yauch had died from a text from my brother early Friday morning, and after that, I couldn't go thirty seconds without getting some sort of multimedia update from one of my friends- everyone in my life knows what a colossal Beastie Boys fan I am. They're my favorite artists to come out of New York and one of my top ten bands in general. When George Harrison passed on I remember my dad telling me that he felt as if he had lost a friend, and I knew at that moment what he had meant. I was stunned and devastated.

I've been wearing this shirt all weekend. Yes, I washed it repeatedly.
I learned about Beastie Boys in 1994, when I came across the hilarity that was the "Sabotage" video. Despite the fact that the video itself was obviously a classic, it didn't change the fact that the song itself blew me away- and I've never been a fan of hip-hop or rap. Since this was the mid-90's, way before the internet, iTunes or any of the available resources we have now, I went out and purchased Ill Communication and listened to the whole album all the way through. After I memorized all the lyrics to that CD, I bought every single record they'd released prior to that and wore those out, too. I'm sure my parents were ecstatic.

Beastie Boys are a rare commodity in that even if you don't like rap or hip-hop, there is at least one Beastie Boys song that you know all the words to. All their videos are great and hysterically funny. They started out as a joke- three white Jewish boys from Brooklyn (part of why I love them so much) writing songs about partying and girls (see: "Fight For Your Right" and "Girls") who now fight for freedom for Tibet and equal rights for women and are recent inductees to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

And they're Mets fans!!!

Their original line-up formed when the Boys were 17 years old and never changed, and at this year's Rock and Roll Hall of Fame ceremony, Mike D and Adrock read a speech on MCA's behalf, since he was too sick to attend. This despairing news was overshadowed by Axl Rose acting like an asshole.

Adam Yauch, besides being 1/3 of one of the best of anything New York City has ever produced (after me, of course), was also fairly accomplished in other forms of media. Under the moniker Nathanial Hornblower, he directed some of Beastie Boys' more iconic videos, including "Body Movin," "So Watcha Want," and "Intergalactic." Under his actual name, Yauch put out "Make Some Noise," a half-hour extended remake of "Fight For Your Right" with Danny McBride, Seth Rogen and Elijah Wood (FRODO!) facing off against "future" Beastie Boys played by Will Ferrell, John C. Reilly and Jack Black. The video includes some epic cameos and is one of the greatest things I've ever seen.

Just as notable, Yauch was co-founder of Oscilloscope Pictures, a major independent film distribution company that released Yauch's own documentaries Awesome; I Fuckin' Shot That! and Gunnin' For That #1 Spot. Oscilloscope were also the driving force behind critically acclaimed films Wendy and Lucy, The MessengerExit Through the Gift Shop and 2012 festival and awards-season sweeper We Need To Talk About Kevin.

As well as Yauch's major contributions to both the music and film industries, he was also passionate about his fundraising and non-profit efforts. Beastie Boys were well-known for their accomplishments on behalf of Tibetan freedom and the New York women's disaster relief, and in the wake of September 11th, Yauch's Milarepa Fund, which was formed to promote awareness regarding injustice against Tibet, organized New Yorkers Against Violence. Proceeds from this benefit show went to New York Women's Foundation Disaster Relief Fund and NYANA- New York Association for New Americans- September 11th Fund for New Americans. In 1996, Milarepa produced the Tibetan Freedom Concert, which became the biggest benefit concert in the U.S. since Live Aid in 1985.

Adam Yauch will be sorely missed, both as Adam Yauch and MCA, by his family, his wife, his daughter, the remaining members of Beastie Boys, all facets of the entertainment communities and his legion of fierce and loyal fans. You can read his obit on the official Beastie Boys website here.

You can sleep now, MCA. Brooklyn has been found.


Elle said...

Wow, what an emotional and lovely post. I learned a lot about this man and feel it is a huge loss to not only the music business, but to the world. Love Elle xo

Paige said...

liscensed to ill....thats all i have to say.

the Tsaritsa said...

I'm sad about this. I know it was last week, but I'm still sad. Been bumpin License to Ill and Paul's Boutique since last Friday.

Anonymous said...

This is one of the most underrated Beastie Boys songs of all time:

Nugs said...

That's actually one of my favorite Beastie Boys songs ever. This is still really bad, especially considering Kim Kardashian and Justin Bieber are still around.

Anonymous said...

I've never been on to hate KK. To be clear, that KK, not a typo of KKK. I mean, if people weren't interested in her, E! would stop airing her show. It's the people who watch her who her stay, so it's the people who watch her that I hate.

And as for Biebs, one can only hope that it ends for him the same way it did for Hanson back in the day.

They all had their vocal chords ripped out by Percectecles, the Greek god of audio, right?

Nugs said...

I wish. That would be great.

PS- all the Hanson boys are married with kids now. I'm so old.