May 4th, 2012


Fuck Cancer

When Graham told me about MCA's passing, I was genuinely pissed off. I mean, totally. I remember hearing about the cancer a few years ago. I remember thinking, "aw fuck," when I heard that the Beastie Boys were on hiatus for awhile, but I totally thought it was something that was beatable. I mean, salivary gland. How hard is that to pinpoint?

Apparently harder than I thought.


I remember when License to Ill came out. I was in seventh grade, and it was the first hip-hop that I was really exposed to, first time I ever really heard sampling. I loved it. Everyone loved it. We played "Brass Monkey" and "Fight for Your Right" and "Paul Revere" and "She's Crafty" and everything else in our school dances. A lot more fun to dance to, without the awkwardness of having to choose a partner. We had no idea what the songs actually meant, and they had NO application to our lives, but we'd sing along as if we were making some sort of profound statement to Catholic middle schoolers.

The Beastie Boys from that point forward were always around. I'm an anomaly in that I think that I was more profoundly impacted by Check Your Head than I was Paul's Boutique and Ill Communication (though like most people, I truly love "Sabotage"). But, because of those three albums, I became adamantly on the side of sampling. The production that went into those albums is so fucking amazing that I tend to judge most remixing/sampling/layering on the work done by the DJs and producers who made those albums possible.

It was weird, in the 2000s, when I discovered that the Beastie Boys, like myself, were becoming middle aged. Their music wasn't necessarily cutting edge or ground breaking anymore, though I still thought it was pretty awesome. I faithfully bought Hello Nasty and To The Five Boroughs, and I loved them.

And even a my music buying habits changed from listening to CDs to MP3s, I kept up with the Beastie Boys. I remember thanking them for fighting the good fight in the wake of the various wars we embarked upon in the early part of the century. In 2006, when I started running with an iPod, I would listen to Check Your Head straight through. I probably know it as well as I know any full length album. I probably have a dozen mashups featuring Beastie Boys songs. It is probably cheating to use the Beastie Boys in a mashup, because their music is such a combination of so many different generes, and in some respect is often already a mashup, taking it apart and putting it back together into something new isn't difficult to conceptualize.

I finally saw the Beastie Boys in August 2007 at VirginFest. I said this about their part of the show:
Anyhow, the trash situation started getting bad right around the time the Beastie Boys came on, but I didn't really pay all that much attention to the ground because I was so enthralled by the music. I have a running playlist on my ipod that is entirely Beastie Boys based, and I felt strangely compelled to start running while listening to their set. I settled with dancing. Everything sounded great, the production of the performance was top notch, and the three MCs played off of each other beautifully. The DJs were also amazingly good. They probably played for an hour and a half, but it seemed to fly by. Their new album, which I've heard once but haven't bought yet, is entirely instrumental, and they played a few songs from it. But they also managed to cover some material from most of their other albums, too. The crowd loved them, and they seemed to love the crowd. Because my sister has been so involved with putting on heavily produced DJ parties lately, I paid a lot more attention to stuff like the mixing and the presentation on the jumbotrons. All were top notch. They came out wearing suits, but pretty soon MCA muttered something about being as hot as a mofo and everyone was pretty stripped down by the end.
It was a pretty awesome show. I remember I knew someone at the time who had connections to the Beastie Boys, and she'd said that this particular tour was pretty much a mobile nursery rather than party buses: Everyone was having kids now.

The next year, I used the "Intergalactic" video as my inspiration for Burning Man prep. I probably watched that video several dozen times while trying to figure out what I wanted to do with our Future Space theme.

I heard about MCA's cancer shortly after he announced it. It sounded, though, that it was a fairly treatable, and it was clear that he was still working, so I was hopeful that it was something that could easily be beaten. Last year, I assumed that all was well with MCA when the video to Make Some Noise came out. I, like the rest of the internet watching universe (at least so it seemed, what with the nearly 5 million views of a 29 minute music video) had watched it on YouTube, laughing at the Beastie Boys acknowledging that their youth had moved on, but still putting out some awesome music. MCA directed the video. Later on last year, I saw AdRock on Top Chef Just Desserts, so I figured that Beastie Boys publicists were busy working on promoting the new album.

All was well, because the Beastie Boys were around, and they've always been around. And I am not the only one that thought so: I mean, "Sabotage" at the beginning of J.J. Abrams' Star Trek felt to me totally appropriate and fitting for the scene, even 200 years later. Clearly Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman felt that the Beastie Boys are timeless. And that remix of the video using Battlestar Galactica clips? Fucking awesome.

I really was shocked this morning when Graham told me. I've been listening to Beastie Boys all day-because I have 3.5 hours of Beastie Boys with me wherever I go on my ipod--and it just pisses me off more than anything else. Graham is 41 years old, just 6 years younger than MCA. That's way too young. Way fucking too young.

Fuck cancer. Just dammit, fuck it. Totally unfair, totally destructive and awful, and UGH.

Will attempt to find some Brass Monkey at some point.