I thought I should type a few words about the recent death of one of the Beastie Boys' founding members, Adam ‘MCA’ Yauch. He passed away in Brooklyn, just this past Friday, after fighting a three year battle with cancer.
I just found out the news last night —- I was watching a few minutes of Saturday Night Live, and after Rihanna performed (Talk that talk to me…), they showed a few seconds of the Beasties playing on SNL back in the day. Then they showed a snapshot of Adam and put his name in big white letters under the picture.
Surprised, but I knew something had to be up, I quickly Googled (Dear Google…) and came across the news. How sad.
I was even more surprised, though, that there did not seem to be much coverage about it. True, the Beasties may not have sold or were that internationally known in comparison to the likes of Michael Jackson or Whitney Houston (…or were they?) but to not realize the impact they had on the music of today is complete ignorance, if you know at least a couple of things about the music (in particular rap, rap rock) and entertainment industry.
The Beastie Boys helped pave the way of Rap, Rap Rock, and Rap Rock with a side of Punk, today, with their classic quips and quick deliveries. Further, to be, (let me be straight forward), white boys from Brooklyn, rapping and mixing all of these genres together, in an industry that was heavily populated by African Americans and the black community is pretty remarkable. It’s hard to try something different or go against the status quo when the population is one…or, well, in this case, three. It’s pretty remarkable when artists try new things and follow their passions and ambitions despite the naysayers.
To be honest, I was not a huge fan of their work, but I did like several of their tracks and really respected who they were as musicians and overall, as artists. In particular, Adam Yauch was a big activist. To use your ‘celebrity status’ and wield your power in the direction of international causes and something you feel passionate about it, really says something about the type of person Adam must have been. I also recall, how whenever the Beasties won an award (at least, starting from the late 90s, when I started watching the MTV Music Awards or the Grammies), they’d do their ‘thank yous’ but then use that time to speak their minds - they’d say a few words about the rapes in Woodstock or about political issues. Despite what their cultural or religious background was, they supported and respected other cultures and religions —- that’s not something that can be said about everyone in the music industry…and to publicly express their opinions, in front of millions, really means a lot. It also shows Adam, along with the rest of the group, had a lot of charisma and courage.
On a personal note, while I am American, my ethnic and religious background are different, so to have someone 'stick up for you,' whether you know them or not, means something, e.g. as heard 'In A World Gone Mad'…
Wa Alaikum Salam
Peace to the Middle East
Peace to Islam
Big words..and on a personal level, as that is a customary Islamic greeting, it’s pretty rad to hear non-Muslims say it. Thanks, Adam, for that. High five.
I hope Adam Yauch's wife, Dechen Wangdu, and their daughter, Tenzin Losel, along with his parents are doing okay. I don’t know what will the future of the Beastie Boys be, as this is a very difficult time for them, but I hope the music and entertainment industry realize they lost someone pretty special. Adam Yauch was not just one of the pioneers of rap rock, but also, in my eyes, an overall, really cool and good person in the industry. He was another type of artist — not just someone who spoke his mind, but someone who spoke his mind in his music, as well - whatever he was passionate about, be it international causes (e.g. Free Tibet), or other political issues, the Beasties, in their later works, really expressed their thoughts and opinions in order to show their fans, and basically, anyone who listened, a different perspective, and in hopes, be inspired or influenced to be more open minded and understanding.
As Matthew Good (my favorite musical artist, he’s Canadian…Google him,) says in Blue Skies Over Bad Lands, off of White Light Rock & Roll Review, we just need to ‘understand understanding,’ and I think Adam Yauch and the rest of the Beasties really tryed to get that message across. Further, their music and the other works Adam involved himself in (the film industry and the Milarepa Fund, a non-profit organization for Tibetan causes), really showed he wanted to use his artistic abilities and interests for not just his own passions but understanding. You can’t say that about everyone..can you?
Didnt think so.
Thank you, Adam Yauch, for your work in the industry, the legacy you have created with the Beastie Boys, and with your international activist efforts. Rest assured, it has not gone unnoticed. For your fans, family, and friends, this is a big loss, but knowing the impact you made on society and the entertainment industry largely demonstrates your character, mindset, vision, intellect, and passion as an artist. Thank you for being unique, following your heart, and paving the road for others. I really believe you made a difference —- and maybe you had to leave this world so that difference could be realized and expanded into something truly phenomenal.
Rest in Peace, Adam.
PS - Sabotage, hands down, is one of the best videos, of all time. I’m not sure whose idea it was, but it’s a classic track, along with, of course, Intergalactic Planetary (Do you really like your sugar with coffee and cream?) and Body Movin’ (A-1 sound and it sounds so soothin’), and of course, the unforgettable, Fight for Your Right..(to Party)…in the end, Adam, you really did Fight for Your Right and hopefully have inspired others to do the same.