May. 4th, 2012

RIP MCA

May. 4th, 2012 08:27 pm
lazypadawan: (Default)
Beastie Boy Adam "MCA" Yauch died today at age 47 after a three-year battle with cancer. It's effectively the end of the seminal rap act that was inducted in the Rock 'n Roll Hall Of Fame just a few weeks ago. They might continue to record or tour as a duo, but it won't be the same.

The first time I'd ever heard of them was in 1985, shortly before they went on tour opening for Madonna. But they broke out with their 1986 album "Licensed To Ill." At the time, the Beasties were controversial for their politically-incorrect lyrics that annoyed, well, everybody. "Licensed To Ill" was part inside joke, part frat boy party rock. To me as a teen, the lyrics were so over-the-top they were more funny than menacing. Here were a trio of nice Jewish boys pretending to be thugs and tough guys.

But they got respect from the rap and hip-hop community while the likes of Vanilla Ice didn't because they were good and they took the art form seriously. They might have been lampooning themselves but not the genre.

Then came what I consider the Beasties' masterpiece, "Paul's Boutique," in 1989 and I believe that album forever changed the band and how they were perceived. Definitely a far less commercial album than its predecessor, it was way ahead of its time. It feels like New York if that makes any sense.

They still refused to take themselves seriously, even as MCA became more socially conscious over the years, being one of the celebrity voices of the Free Tibet movement. Yauch converted to Buddhism, married a woman from Tibet, and became a dad. My favorite Beasties' video--and one of my favorite videos period--is 1994's "Sabotage," directed by the Steven Spielberg of rock videos, Spike Jonze. It was done as an opening sequence of a '70s style cop show. Given their mutual love of pop culture, Jonze was a great match for the band.

I'll end my little tribute with my top 10 Beastie Boys singles:

10. Body Movin' (Fatboy Slim Remix)
9. Fight For Your Right
8. Rhymin' & Stealin'
6. Hey Ladies
5. Shake Your Rump
4. Intergalactic
3. Sabotage
2. No Sleep Til Brooklyn
1. Paul Revere

And this was hard to pick!

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