In a year that seems to already have had its share of celebrity deaths, the passing of Adam Yauch has hit me the worst. Davy Jones had his heyday before I was born. Whitney Houston was a childhood memory that had long been mourned for. Adam Yauch, however, is associated with my most recent past: adolescence. The Beastie Boys were the first hip hop group I ever liked. I can’t even say for sure if I even defined them as that. My Latin American teenage years were filled with the Brit invasion, alternative angst rock, acoustic singer/songwriters and the occasional pop ballad. Hip hop and rap were not big on the scene and what little of it was heard was poorly understood. When MCA, Mike D and Ad Rock came out at the MTV Video Music Awards in suits to perform “Sabotage”, my brain was unable to wrap my head around what I was seeing. Was it punk? Rap? Parody? All of the above? Did I even like it? Whatever it was, I wanted to know more. The Beastie Boys opened my eyes to new genres and beats. They helped my gloomy, sarcastic fifteen year old self loosen up-if only for the duration of their song. They were fun, entertaining, kind of weird, and respectful of the traditions that had shaped their music.
Adam was a musician, a director, producer, and human rights activist. In his honor, I leave you with a video he himself directed. Because you can’t, you won’t, and you don’t stop, MCA.