MCA From the Beastie Boys, a band many of us defined our generation with, died today at age 47 after a battling cancer. He will be sorely missed.
Now that I’ve collected my thoughts…
I was a 13 year old kid who had just moved up to New York after coming to America and, up until then, living in the South for a while. Nothing about Western culture — that I saw so much of on TV — had any discernable bearing on my real life. I felt let down by popular culture. At least TV culture.
Between my trips to Comedy Central to watch Dr. Katz, to Fox to watch the Simpsons and back to MTV, I grew into something of a cynic. High school was boring, my friends were stupid, enemies were evil, but at least I had entertainment to come home to. But then mere entertainment started to morph into something of a lifestyle. The Beastie Boys started to grow on me.
Once upon a time, believe it or not, the bane of civilization and all taste, MTV, used to be an OK place to visit for good music. It wasn’t great, it wasn’t really earth-shattering and most of it was incomprehensible. But the idea that it was all “fake” was hammered in to all of us all the time by the surreality of the content. Between Liquid TV, Aeon Flux, Beavis and Butthead and Daria, I thought I had a pretty good sense of the popular culture.
No one pretended that this was “real”. Even the Real World, which started the apocalypse, was stupid enough to be innocuous.
We all derived some pleasure from the trivial theater that is the Music Video. And since CDs were expensive (to us) and your mom couldn’t afford the latest albums, MTV and radio were your only sources of music entertainment. You could repeat the experience thanks to blank tapes, which were cheap, and I managed to scrounge up a recorder someone had thrown out and, viola… My taste in music was simmering with the times and the Boys were becoming a formative part of my life.
I think the first Beastie Boys music video I ever saw was No Sleep Till Booklyn and that was considered “old” even back then (the mid 90’s and the track was from the late 80’s). I didn’t care, I thouroughly enjoyed it. If they didn’t take it seriously, why should I? The collection snowballed as I finally could afford CDs.
The Beastie Boys… and I only saw those magnificiently absurd young men a few times before latching on to MTV… it occured to me, I think these guys really know how to have fun while not giving a damn. Entertainment was entertaining on its own merit. The music was good, the tune was catchy and rhymes were starting to stick. I think I could get into this.
And boy did I.
My first mixtapes always had the following :
- Cooky Puss
- The New Style
- No Sleep Till Brooklyn
- Paul Revere
- Hold it now, Hit it
- Brass Monkey
- High Plains Drifter
- Hey Ladies
- Jimmy James
- Pass the Mic
- So What’cha want
- Sure Shot
- Root Down
- Sabotage (the song and video are Immortal)
- Three MC’s and one DJ
- Body Movin
- Root Down
Suffice it to say that today, the same as to many others, a part of our childhood died. Nothing will really replace what Adam brought to the trio (quartet with the DJ) and a part of our reality has a gaping hole as a result.