Friday, 4 May 2012

Adam Yauch/MCA 1964-2012

He had a beard like a billy goat

So a couple of hours ago I checked my Facebook timeline and saw a post that read "Oh, maaaaan. MCA!", my heart sank. I saw another that read "Can't believe MCA is dead!!! Horrible news! rip", my heart sank further. A news search later and those posts are confirmed. Adam Yauch, founding member of The Beastie Boys, has passed away at the depressingly young age of 47.

As anyone who has read this page before, or as those reading for the first time are about to discover, I'm not a guy who is going to write a series of beautiful words that perfectly describe what an absolute giant of music MCA was. All I can do is talk as a fan, as someone who's life was changed as a result of what Nathaniel Hornblower and his bandmates did, as someone who is gutted by the thought of a world in which a guy like MCA is taken far too soon.

I first got into The Beastie Boys at around 10/11 years old. My older sister had a few friends round and one of them was blasting some pretty weird stuff from the tape deck. I remember that Brass Monkey was what caught my ear and that was it for me, I didn't know what the hell these guys were on about but it sounded brilliant and it wasn't like anything I'd ever heard before. After a bit of pleading I managed to convince my sister's friend to let me keep hold of the tape, to be honest I think it was given to me as a way to get rid of me, a really effective way of getting rid of me. Over the next few weeks I never stopped flipping that tape. It was the first time in my life that I'd got that involved with music, I wanted to know everything about what this music was, where it came from, and who the hell was responsible. Unfortunately I didn't have the internets back then, hardly anyone did, I also live in a small village in North Wales which doesn't exactly have it's finger on the pulse. All I had to go on was the tape, it wasn't even a proper tape though, it was recorded and had Beastie Boys scribbled on the side in biro. I knew nothing about them but the fact that they were responsible for amazing songs like She's Crafty, Posse in Effect, Fight for Your Right, and what became my favourite song for the next year or so, Slow and Low. I'm sure the following statement is true for so many people but Beastie Boys were the first group I ever cared about.

Fast forward a year or two and I'm in Our Price in Chester, I'm rifling through the CD's and I see a Beastie Boy's album. At this point I'm still rocking the tape, I did until I was 17, so to find some new Beastie Boys music made for quite a day. After a tad more scanning I found another album, I pestered Mum a little and soon enough was the proud owner of two new albums: Paul's Boutique and Ill Communication.
As soon as I got home I popped Paul's Boutique in the player, sat back, and had my first listen.When To All The Girls played I was a tad confused. It didn't sound like the Brass Monkey guys, maybe the name on my tape was wrong? Then Shake Your Rump kicked in!!! I had the right album, and I had a favourite group. Shake Your Rump is to this day probably my favourite Beastie's song and back then it knocked the socks off the thirteen year old me. The rest of the album did not disappoint either and there is a damn good reason that it is held in such high regard and considered a game changer in Hip Hop. Songs like Egg Man, Looking Down The Barrel Of a Gun, and Shadrach are just huge. The whole album is as amazing to the 27 year old me as it was to the 13 year old North Walian experiencing it for the first time,  I'm listening to it as I write this post and it's unreal just how dope it is.  It was a couple of weeks before I ever got round to Ill Communication. 

Now I could go through every Beastie album and talk about what it meant to me and how tremendous their work is but unless you've been living under a rock, you know this already. I haven't even mentioned songs like Intergalactic, Ch-Check It Out, Sure Shot, and the countless other go to songs everyone loves. From that cadged tape that hooked me, to Paul's Boutique which shaped my musical tastes so much, to To The 5 Boroughs (which is probably my favourite of their albums), to the Sounds of Science double disc (probably the only album my brother and I have ever both loved), all the way to the proving they still had it recent album Hot Sauce Commitee, The Beastie's have proven time and time again that they are straight up geniuses when it comes to the art of Hip Hop and their music has been a part of my and my generation's life.

I've seen musician's pass over the year's and I've never fully understood the reaction of so many people when the artists they look up to so much die. I mean I was saddened when Michael Jackson died but these things happen. I've always found it hard to understand how people can be so upset to lose someone they never knew. With the news of MCA's passing I understand fully. I can honestly say that had my girl not been sitting next to me when I found out this news I probably would have cried. I sure as hell felt like it but it seemed ridiculous to break down in front of someone over a guy I never had the pleasure of knowing. I guess music plays such an important part in our life and it soundtracks the highs and lows of every moment of it so it's natural to feel a connection to those responsible for the music we love. As a Beastie Boys fan, so much of my life is soundtracked by this group, I hear certain songs and it takes me back to periods in my life that mean something to me and it's crushing to know that one of them has been taken from the planet so early.

At the time of writing I don't know the cause of death. I know MCA had recently had cancer but by all accounts before the last album he'd beaten that which is why this was so unexpected.Maybe it wasn't beaten but whatever the reason a simple fact remains that between the music and the directing (he did a lot of the videos and directed the brilliant Awesome! I Shot That) we've lost a true creative force today and we lost him way too soon. I want to say thank you for all the great things I have enjoyed as a result of Adam Yauch and his fellow Beastie's, your work will always be greatly appreciated.

Thanks for reading