McHank’s Column #2 – RIP MCA McHank’s Column #2 – RIP MCA

Adam Yauch died. That’s not a sentence I thought I’d be typing, but here we are. There is nothing that hasn’t been said by the multitude of grievers online that’s anything more profound than what I will say. I don’t have the way with words like MCA did. Not many people do. But the thing about him, was how relatable he made himself.

Relate is a good word for him, because he seemed kind of like the cool older brother to the entire world of music fans and record collectors.

I don’t have a favorite Beastie Boy, just like I don’t have a favorite Beatle. The Beastie Boys are the sum of their parts to me. A perfect three-headed gorgon. You could nitpick and say their last couple albums weren’t reinventing the wheel, but you can not say that they were any less cool, or that they didn’t have a pretty finely made wheel.

I was lucky enough to see The Beastie Boys many, many times, through different phases of their career, and of my life. Which is part of why, they seemed like they would always be there, three older brothers, who, if you paid attention, would point you in the right direction of everything in life that was cool.

They never seemed to misstep, and if they put out a record that wasn’t popular, (…as they did, Paul’s Boutique, their magnum opus, their absolute masterpiece…was NOT popular when it came out), it wasn’t them that had a problem. It was the world, too slow to catch up to how riveting these guys still were.

MCA was one of the heads of that magnificent gorgon, a blistering monster of creativity. A monster that didn’t just stay in one moment of time, a monster that ferociously pushed boundaries on every level. A monster that showed us that to age wasn’t a crime, that the coolest guy in the room could be the coolest guy regardless of signs of age. They could drop more cool references in a single three minute song than most bands will in their entire catalog.

But, they were more than music. They were style incarnate: yes, they made immortal songs that will stand the test of time, they made amazing, imaginative and fun videos, the most crucial magazine of all time, Grand Royal, and they had a remarkable, always hip clothing company, X-Large. The original rap moguls, but they never ever seemed unapproachable. You always hoped you’d meet one of them, and the people that were lucky enough to, seemed to have a cool story about how they got to play basketball or go record shopping with them.

The greatest thing about The Beastie Boys, I think, was their capacity for growth. There’s this videogame called Katamari Damacy, where you play this little alien dude, and you roll a ball around and you pick up every little thing on the ball and the ball grows and grows. You start out picking up thumbtacks and before you know it you’re picking up cows. That was about how the music of The Beastie Boys was, they started with a punk rock ball, and then they picked up Kangols and Adidas and a DJ, and they grew that into a monolith, and then they picked up funk and soul and jazz and salsa, and the ball became a planet, and they soaked up and wrung out their influences and that planet became a universe.

Out of that universe, they gave back, and taught everybody something. You didn’t HAVE to peel back the layers and dismantle their work to enjoy it, but it was worthwhile and fun to check out each song they sampled and figure out what old fad or cool TV show they were referencing. You could choose to party or nerd out over their music.

They managed to encompass so many small details into so many big pictures, and I think you’d be hard pressed to find anybody under the age of fifty…in literally, the entire world…that hasn’t appreciated something that these men have created.

So that’s why it is such a profound loss. I think the thing we can take with us from Adam Yauch is to enjoy each day, take a little bit from every great thing we learn and hear and see, pass it on to our fellow people, and to push to make a better tomorrow. I know he did. It’s a cooler world because he was here, and it’s gonna be a little less cool without him around.

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