“If you can feel what I’m feeling then it’s a musical masterpiece
If you can hear what I’m dealing with then that’s cool at least
What’s running through my mind comes through in my walk
True feelings are shown from the way that I talk”
MCA, Beastie Boys, Pass The Mic, 1992
It’s testament to the legacy of the Beastie Boys that no group before or since has managed to emulate their sound – a blend of rap, punk, sampling and explosive vocals that will forever be etched in hip hop history.
Founding member Adam Yauch, aka MCA, was arguably the talisman of the trio, directing many of their music videos, often under the pseudonym Nathaniel Hörnblowér, and, as a practising Buddhist, overseeing the group’s evolution from ‘frat boy’ wannabes to human rights activists, via the Milarepa Fund and the Tibetan Freedom Concert.
While all the time putting out some absolute killer tracks.
Yauch died of cancer on 4 May 2012, at the age of just 47, with music’s great and good lining up to pay tribute – as Eminem put it in an interview at the time, “Adam Yauch brought a lot of positivity into the world and I think it’s obvious to anyone how big of an influence the Beastie Boys were on me and so many others.”
Arguably the Beastie Boys’ last great album was 1998’s Hello Nasty, which spawned the singles Body Movin‘ and Intergalactic – the latter of which still makes the hairs stand up on the back of your neck – and proved that the era defining Ill Communication (1994) and Check Your Head (1992) were no happy accidents.
In August of that year, the trio gave an interview to Rolling Stone, which tracked the group’s ‘story so far’, as they embarked into adulthood (all were in their early 30s when the album was released), some 15 years on from their first breakthrough.
“That’s the strange thing about making a record,” Yauch explained. “You can be in one mood for an hour, put it on a record, and you’re remembered that way. Like people getting up at my wedding reception and mentioning ‘Fight for Your Right.’ That’s a perfect example of a joke that just went too far.
“People are bringing it up twelve years later. I still have kids come up to me in the street and say, ‘Oh, I used to listen to your albums and smoke so much dust. You dudes are so cool.’ I never smoked dust in my life. It was just a joke. Sorry, buddy – just kidding.” 🙂
You can read the full interview here.
RIP Adam Yauch. Here’s a playlist from the recently-released Beastie Boys Book, put together by fellow group members Ad Rock and Mike D in honour of their departed compatriot. [Main photo by Michael Morel/Wikimedia Commons]