Everyone dies. Rich people, poor people, smart people, good people, bad people and talented people.
It’s a natural part of life that every single one of us will someday face and succumb to. Knowing that doesn’t make it any more comforting or acceptable to me.
I’ve long feared death and been troubled by it since I was a young child lying in my bedroom late one night thinking about everyone I know and love dying and being gone forever.
I don’t believe in “God”, no matter how many times I said prayers at night with my parents. They always felt like something I said because I was told to, not because in my heart I felt it.
The words were never reassuring and to this day I don’t have any sense of an afterlife where those who pass on go to live in bliss w/ the creator.
I’d like to believe there is some sort of afterlife…but I’m not about to claim I know what that afterlife is or what anyone can expect from it.
That being said, this post isn’t a rant on religion, but I did want to establish my perspective on the subject of what lies beyond our mortal coil.
Bottomline is, I don’t know. None of us do. That’s part of the fear and the fascination I have with it.
Death is final. There’s no coming back from it. Sure, if you’re one of those people who dies and then is brought back to life by the paramedics or doctors, I guess you “cheat” death on some level, but only momentarily. The reality though, is that when you die, you’re gone.
It’s not something I look forward to, it’s not something I am going to be OK with once those close to me are buried in the ground, and it’s not something that I ever like to hear about happening to someone I’ve known my whole life. I’m not talking about my parents, or one of my brothers, or even a close friend.
I’m talking about artist Adam Yauch, commonly known as MCA of the Beastie Boys.
Did I personally know Adam Yauch? No. I never met the guy and I never had any physical interaction with the man. I only listened to his music and saw him on television or the internet.
His death today still affects me a great deal. Not nearly as much as it affects his family and friends and those closest to him. I can’t imagine the loss they feel, but as someone who grew up listening to the Beastie Boys since I was 11 years old, this loss is still an impact on me.
I grew up in a small college and farm town 2 hours east of Seattle, WA called Ellensburg. I actually grew up on a farm and until around the age of 11 and 12 listened to The Oak Ridge Boys, Anne Murray, Johnny Cash, Creedence Clearwater Revival, Kenny Loggins and The Statler Brothers. I was raised on Country music.
It wasn’t until around 6th grade that I was turned on to other types of music. Motley Crue, Poison, Bon Jovi, Metallica — it really changed my life. But one group in particular that affected me moreso than I realized at the time was The Beastie Boys.
I had borrowed and copied ‘License to Ill’ from a friend of mine and played that cassette on repeat for hours in my room. The song everyone was going apeshit over in my school was “Fight for Your Right (To Party)”. At the age of 11 I was too young to really comprehend a lot of that album. I didn’t know what Brass Monkey was, or that No Sleep Til Brooklyn was a song about touring — I was young and naive. But what I did comprehend was the energy and the power of the music I was hearing.
3 white guys rapping? It was unheard of.
Rap was just becoming huge at the time and it was most definitely not something white people were adept at. But these 3 kids from Brooklyn were doing it and became one of the biggest rap groups in history.
When you’re a white kid on a farm, and you’re looking for something — ANYTHING — to rebel against your immediate surroundings, there was nothing better than that album. I would crank it at full volume and just rock the fuck out. From the opening drums of “Rhymin and Stealin” to the quirky, sexist rant of “Girls”, the empowering “Fight For Your Right”, all the way to the fun and engaging story of “Paul Revere”, that album changed my comprehension of reality.
It was my first introduction to rap. Even though I would be exposed to Run DMC, 2 Live Crew, Sir Mix-A-Lot, Vanilla Ice and Digital Underground over the next few years, none of those groups affected me or excited me like The Beastie Boys.
I slept on their second album, ‘Paul’s Boutique’ until later in life, and sort of forgot about the Beastie Boys for awhile as I was getting in to the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Fishbone, Primus and Faith No More. I was very excited by the possibility of combining rap with metal. It was new, it was different and it was even more exciting than hearing ‘License To Ill’ for the first time.
Lo and behold though, once I moved away from home and lived in Seattle I was re-introduced to the Beastie Boys via ‘Check Your Head’ — to this date one of my favorite albums of all time.
I fell in love with those 3 white guys from Brooklyn all over again. This carried on into their album ‘Ill Communication’, after which we went our separate ways, but I never omitted them from any mixtape or mix CD I would put together and they were always one of my favorites.
I grew up on the Beastie Boys. They were part of the soundtrack to my youth and continue to be a staple in my musical palette. Without them we wouldn’t have bands like Rage Against The Machine, 311, Korn, Faith No More or even Eminem. They paved the way for a lot of the music we hear today and I dare someone to argue that they weren’t the catalyst for Rap music’s mainstream rise in the 80′s and subsequent take over of popular music up through today.
So, while I write this blog post I think about this person whom I have never met, who never knew I even existed, yet this individual changed my life in a profound way that even those closest to me cannot lay claim to.
Adam Yauch, you will be missed by not just myself, but by the entire world. Those that don’t understand you and your fellow Beastie Boys’ impact on the world of music might learn so now because of your death, but they will never have the experience that I had.
Thank you for being a part of my life and for breaking boundaries and giving a white kid from Ellensburg a piece of motivation and determination to fulfill his dreams.
You are, and will forever be, truly missed. My heart goes out to your family and your friends.