"He Had More Hits Than Sadaharu Oh." Adam Yauch, R.I.P.
It's been a rough couple of days in the mortality department over here in Escalanteland. First it was my dear, dear God Mother's passing. I'm convinced her incessant prayers made me who I am.
Then, my record label's G.M. lost his life at age 47. Finally, it was awful to hear of the passing of the Beastie Boys' MCA (Adam Yauch), even though it was common knowledge that he was gravely ill.
The Beastie Boys started their punk band probably a few months before we started ours. When we didn't know what to do in a genre that was supposed to self destruct by design, we released a hip hop song called Lady Killer that became a regional novelty hit. But novelty hits do not a career make.
The Beastie Boys, however, jumped into the hip hop world with both feet (no novelties, just real hits) and showed everyone that came before them how it could be done, if it was going to be done to perfection. They had to be perfect, they were white. I saw them whenever they came to L.A. Whether it was opening for LL Cool J, Whodini, Run DMC, and the Timex Social Club at the Long Beach Arena, or lucking into a video shoot, they were heroes to the punk rocker's first, hip hop fans second, then every boy and girl in America as they went on to sell 40 million records with the edgiest hits ever to hit mainstream airways.
"Our manager's crazy, he always smokes dust, he's got his own room in the back of the bus."
Wait, you have a bus? And a manager? I wan to be you! Scandalous yes, but the talent was undeniable.
The Beastie Boys were so big, so great, and so influential, I made it a point to never meet them. "Never meet your idols" was my mantra (and still is); you will only be disappointed, and you risk losing something very special. It's not worth the bragging rights.
I had many chances to meet the Beastie Boys but I avoided that with determination. What's all this "Free Tibet" stuff?" I thought. Way too heavy for me. Buddhism? MCA was evidently the son of a Catholic and a Jew. I'm convinced that whatever Hollywood celebrities are looking for in these super exotic spiritualities can be found in the culture of their loving parents. And what a more beautiful story and result that would be, God forbid?
At the risk of losing even more of the innocence of my youth, I ignore the politics of my idols, even when I agree with it. The risks are just too great. Do I want my rock stars to stop with the politics? Absolutely, I don't care if it's Billy Joe or Ted Nugent. But since it's unlikely to happen, I just ignore most of it and bask in rhymes like "So like a pimp I'm pimpin' - got a boat to eat shrimp in. Nothing wrong with my leg I'm just B-boy limpin'" Wow.