This is my tribute to Adam Yauch, a/k/a MCA of the Beastie Boys, who died May 4th of cancer. He reached beyond the five boroughs with his songs and spirit.
I remember the first time I heard the Beastie Boys. My friends were playing a new rap album sometime in the late 80s. They told me I should check it out. “Here’s a little somethin’ for ya,” he said. The beats got my body movin’. Until then, the only rappers I liked were Run DMC and there were not too many rappers out there I liked. But I liked what I heard and then I saw you on MTV. I was so surprised you were white! I was only 13. As a military brat who lived among many cultures, this made you instantly iconic to me. Your music gave me the confidence as I hit puberty and started to notice girls. I could say “hey ladies!” to all the girls. I thought I was the top of the brass. Monkey around is all I did, though.
MCA, you taught us that in hip-hop, rappers and artists of all races get it together. MCA, you were one of the first to show that. You helped take the rap game from the streets of New York to an intergalactic level. You weren’t just a white guy that could rap; you were a great rapper that just happened to be white. I couldn’t imagine that any record label back in the day would think the Beastie Boys had a sure shot of becoming iconic.
But your induction into the Rock n’ Roll Hall of Fame showed everyone that you belonged up there as one of the great music innovators. You taught young up and comers that they could be in the hall of fame if they could rhyme the rhyme well. I wish you could have been there to see how you were honored. Cancer was the sabotage, though. And now it’s taken you away from us all too soon.
I won’t be the only one to miss you. The Tibetan people will miss you, MCA. Awareness of their oppression was a battle you took on as a personal cause and you delivered that message like a modern day Paul Revere. You wanted us and the Tibetans to stand together and not keep them off the grid when it comes to social justice. You told them: “fight for your right”. To party was no longer your priority. The new style for Adam Yauch was to do something he believed in. That’s a legacy that will live longer than your music.
There is no one to pass the mic to, Adam. I hope you rest in peace. Wherever you end up in the afterlife, be sure to make some noise.
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