RIP Adam Yauch / MCA, one of my earliest musical heroes. I’ve had Licenced to Ill on my deck this morning, a record I bought when I was 10 years old. It’s interesting revisiting it and hearing the distinction between the frat boy, guitar-riffing throw-away stuff that reached out to white rock audiences and the far superior stripped-down, minimal, bass heavy stuff that was rooted in the contemporary hip hop of the time. MCA always was the coolest of the trio; even back on the 80s he looked so much older and wiser that Ad-Rock and Mike D, with cheese-grater tones that belied his youth.
The Beastie Boys were one of those timeless bands that weren’t meant to go away. Maybe you’d rarely put on one of their albums, but whoever’s home you were in, they were always up there on the shelf or on the ipod; a part of the furniture, no less. Tributes to Yauch calling him a hip hop pioneer are wide of the mark. The Beastie Boys were no innovators. But that’s not the point. Everything they did, they did with wit, style and intelligence. Grounded in rap, but also at home with punk, dub and jazz, they jumped on every genre and made it theirs. The blogosphere will be filled with and lifted by all manner of Beastie Boys tunes, remixes and bootlegs today, which is a fitting tribute to a legend. Here are my favourites. RIP MCA.