RIP Adam Yauch: The World Loses Another Musical Great

Each generation has artists and figures that help define them.  One of the major bands that shaped people of my generation was the Beastie Boys.  You may not like their music or agree with their beliefs, but people around my age are at least forced to admit they played a part in shaping our culture.  If you don't want to go as far as admitting they played a part in the entire culture, then you at least have to surrender that they were a profound influence on the music industry.

Come on, they were the famous and talented "rapping white boys" way before anyone ever heard of Eminem.  The fact is that they never were just considered rappers (initially, they were labeled a punk band).  They created this incredible fusion of several genres like rock to hip hop to techno to blues to country, and maybe even created their own genres that people are still trying to label.  There won't ever be another Beastie Boys.  This could be a good thing, because maybe they weren't your kind of pleasure, but also, the world needs some "one-of-the-kinders".  Beastie Boys were that.

The Beastie Boys are connected to my generation because they grew up alongside us.  In the 80s, you had the "jock rock" style music like "Fight For Your Right to Party", which was an anthem for keggers and rebellion.  Then you had the deliciously 90s road music of "Sabotage", which is one of the undisputed defining songs of the early part of that decade (if not the entire period).  Then you enter into the harder to define music that still fit into the evolving musical landscape with a song like "Intergalactic."  Then you come back to music that seems to be a tip of the hat to their past style but also create something new with the newest release "Make Some Noise."  I'm of course only touching on their mainstream hits here, because they've got songs that are far more diverse and really demonstrate how unique of a musical act they were.  They've won awards in almost every genre of music, and are one of the true groups that you can't label as a specific type of music.

I mentioned how my generation grew up with the Beastie Boys, and I don't think you could describe it much better than that.  We are connected because they matured alongside us.  The '80s Beastie Boys were juvenile.  They spoke about partying and being bad asses.  Their videos were the type that made our parents cringe.  It was part of the reason we loved them.  Over the decade, they may have kept a bit of that rebellion, but the juvenile label started to get erased.  They would speak out against society still, but now for causes and human rights.  They had a purpose.  They found religion as Buddhist, and became actively involved in politics.  The world started to mean more than just partying for them, just like it started to mean more to us.  The band and its fans grew up together, and started to see this world differently.  We both wanted to shape it and change it.

I don't know much about Adam Yauch.  He was known as MCA or Nathaniel Hornblower when part of the band.  I enjoyed the group's music, and it got me through many road trips, but I wasn't obsessed with the band.  I never took the time to know the individuals of the group.  I do know that Yauch was what you'd consider the "spokesmen" or the "leader" of the pack.  He was the devout Buddhist.  I think, it was a lot of his thoughts and beliefs that helped define the group.  Of course, each member played a huge role.  I'm not saying that he was the most important, because really, it was always about the threesome.  They always seemed like really close friends.  It never looked like one was trying to be a bigger star than the others.

But Adam Yauch is the one who passed away.  With his passing, the Beastie Boys are no more.  I realize they will live on through iTunes and box sets.  Their music will always have a place in this world.  My generation will never forget how they shaped our childhood, teens and beyond.  But their tours are over and creation of new music has stopped.  It has to be this way.  Adam Yauch was a Beastie Boy, and without him, it would never be the same.  Based on how close they seemed, I think the other members would agree with me.

This is a rough day for the fans.  They were loyal.  There is a great piece by Amos Barshad over at Grantland.  He was a big fan.  It is a fine tribute.  If you loved the Beastie Boys, then I'm sure you'll love it.

RIP Adam Yauch 1964 - 2012

In tribute to the memory of Adam, here is a little Beastie Boys for your Monday.  I offer up one of my favourite songs and one of the best videos ever, Sabotage.

And to prove the Beastie Boys still had it, here is the last release "Make Some Noise."