A thank you to one of the people who inspired him to speak up and speak out: Jeff looks back at growing up with the late Adam Yauch aka MCA.
I got teary eyed when I saw on Twitter that Adam Yauch had passed away at the age of 47.
It is amazing how art speaks and reaches beyond borders, crosses boundaries, transcends any and all barriers and walls. It allows you to relate and experience and feel. We have a bond with artists who’s music seems to have been written with our heartaches as ink and to the beat of our ups and downs.
The Beastie Boys have had a special place in my heart as we both seemed to mature and grow up together.
Adam Yauch (MCA) co-founded the group with Mike Diamond (Mike D) and Adam Horovitz (Ad-Rock) in 1981 originally as a punk band and then started to explore hip-hop. With my first impression being their popular party songs, I didn’t listen or like the Beastie Boys at first…
“Her bedroom eyes – they start to twitch
But she won’t front cause she’s got that itch
She’d drop to her knees if I’d only say please
Instead of counting sheep – cold counting Beasties”
- She’s On It, Beastie Boys
“Girls – to do the dishes
Girls – to clean up my room
Girls – to do the laundry
Girls – and in the bathroom
Girls, that’s all I really want is girls
Two at a time I want girls”
- Girls, Beastie Boys
I dismissed them as just a group doing frat-boy anthems and cock-rock laced songs like ‘She’s On It’ and ‘Girls’ from an album who’s original working title was ‘Don’t Be a Faggot’. Secretly, however, I rocked out to ‘ Paul Revere’ “Hold It, Now Hit It” and “Rhymin’ and Stealin’.
Then something happened…the Boys started to grow up.
Party Rock beats and macho-drizzled lyrics evolved into new sounds and discoveries as their style, sound and content grew. Hearing their next album, Paul’s Boutique for the first time blew my mind. It was and still is one of the most amazing things I have ever heard.
As they embraced their punk rock music roots and sharpened their skills on the mic, they gave me the internal permission to explore rock music. Kids where I grew up weren’t down with rock n’ roll, only Hip Hop and R& B, so I secretly listened to U2, Led Zeppelin and Nine Inch Nails. The Beastie Boys allowed me to explore my own internal sound clash as I found permission to embrace the rebel sounds of The Clash & Sex Pistols while embrace the fight-the-power hard beats and defiance of Public Enemy. As I listened to A Tribe Called Quest and EPMD, I then discovered Pearl Jam and Nirvana and my own nirvana through music.
Later on, Ill Communication came out…
and I was inspired…
but the moment I was truly inspired was when I saw their new music video for Sure Shot
….and saw MCA drop this rhyme:
“I Want To Say a Little Something That’s Long Overdue
The Disrespect To Women Has Got To Be Through.
To All The Mothers And Sisters And the Wives And Friends
I Want To Offer My Love And Respect To The End” – Sureshot
I swear, I remember that moment, it was like time made the record skip…the words just jumped out at me.
I remember watching this video on MuchMusic for the first time…in awe. Here he was, now a man, apologizing for his and his band’s past lyrics, ways and actions. Showing maturity and growth, he role modeled to me how a man can own his past and in his sincere, ongoing regret, turn it into a catalyst for change. And as for their homophobia from their early years, they apologized for that to. “There are no excuses. But time has healed our stupidity. … We hope that you’ll accept this long overdue apology.”
It is amazing how we all can make such a profound impact on others, sometimes with just a few words. Adam Yauch, with one rhyme, showed me what it was to go from a boy to a man. Adam, thank you for showing us.
To Tenzin Losel Yauch, I am sorry you didn’t get to grow up with your father like we did.
(Read the tribute on beastieboys.com)