The Beastie Boys provided a good portion of the soundtrack of my youth. I remember playing my kid brother’s copy of Licensed To Ill until the needle wore out (yes all my hipster friends, once upon a time, you had to listen to your music on vinyl.) “No Sleep Til Brooklyn” remains one of my favorite songs and they provided many others over the decade after that. So it is was with a heavy heart that I learned today of the death of Adam Yauch, aka MCA.
The Beastie Boys as a whole have always been about reinvention. I sometimes get a good chuckle, all while being very proud of them, that the men that recorded the horribly misogynistic song “Girls” would go on to be tireless advocates of women’s rights. Yauch, however always seemed to be the energy behind these changes.
It was Yauch who first dabbled in Buddhism. It was Yauch who spoke out about the responsibilities that artists, especially hip hop artists, have as role models. I love all three, but MCA really was my favorite of the bunch. Adam Horowitz, aka Ad Rock may have commanded, deliberately or not, the lion’s share of attention, but MCA always seemed like the quiet momentum behind it all to me.
Back to the reinvention though, because that is why I really love the heck out of him. More than anyone else, Adam Yauch taught you don’t have to be the same person forever. You always have the option to change. To chase new dreams or explore new values. He never let himself get stuck in a rut, and while I cannot make the same claim, thanks to him, I long ago realized that I didn’t have to. All it takes is the ambition to be different.