In the vast world of hip-hop music, one group has always stood out to me; a group whose albums seem to drop as instant classics, whose records bring that intangible authenticity, massive crossover appeal, that incredible electricity, and creative wordplay; whose songs never seem to tire no matter how many times you hear them, songs that seem as clever today as they were decades ago when they were originally released, songs that I’m compelled to include on any music mix worth its wax. I’m speaking of the Beastie Boys of course.
Now, don’t get me wrong, I’ve long been a fan of hip-hop music, at 38 years of age, I’ve probably listened to much more of it than your average suburban Caucasian bear. I have a healthy respect for the genre and its origins, as well as its many geographically distinct flavors. Just a few years ago I managed to see KRS-ONE freestyle his way through a show at a rare midwestern club appearance. So I know there are many artists with massive street cred to consider here.
The trio of Mike D, Ad-Rock, and MCA never seemed to disappoint. As a fan, you knew you were getting an album full of jams, with songs you could listen to again and again and still find new meaning with each spin. You knew their albums would push the boundaries of hip-hop, with rock guitar riffs, experimental instrumentation, ridiculously braggadocios lyrics, and cutting edge beats, often times mixed flawlessly on the same track. When these three stepped up and passed the mic back and forth, the party was in full effect.
The music industry is littered with artists that left us far too soon, often because they burned their candle too brightly at both ends. But Adam “MCA” Yauch was a conscious star who shined in multiple spectrums, as performer, a director, and peace activist who worked towards a vision for a more unified, empathetic, and understanding world. Rather than dwell on the poor hand he was dealt, I just wanted to remind us of what he stood for as a person, who fought for human rights in multiple arenas, and offered nothing but love and respect until the end.