I was nine when Licensed To Ill was released and I can only assume I heard it for the first time that year but I do remember who played it for me and that we were outside.  Luke Turner had a dual cassette deck and so as we listened to it he dubbed me a copy.  I lost my copy after a couple of listens but I remember sitting outside Luke’s house and hearing “Brass Monkey,” “Girls,” and “Paul Revere” for the first time.  It didn’t seem like music to me, not in a crotchety old white guy kind of way but in a these people aren’t real kind of way.

I was living in Georgia at the time and growing up a somewhat sheltered life but thanks to Luke my world had opened up a bit.  In previous visits to Luke’s house I saw my first dirty magazine and watched the long play video for Michael Jackson’s “Thriller.”  For one of those awakenings his mother made me call home and get permission from my mom first.  Thanks mom.

Some how I missed Paul’s Boutique when it was released, probably because I was a sheltered white boy in Georgia but there was no way to miss Check Your Head.  The video for “So What-cha Want” was so bombastic and hallucinatory and “Pass The Mic” often played in the church van I rode in during high school.  From Check Your Head I rediscovered Licensed To Ill.  It was still awesome but as The Beastie Boys continued to prove, they were always up to something new, something you’d never see coming but glad you witnessed when it arrived.  They were the MTV era and their videos continually recreate this notion of disbelief.

I don’t want to give the illusion that I was a live and die Beastie Boy fan, they were one of many many bands that influenced my teens, though I did perform “Paul Revere” with a couple of guys at a church camp talent show, but that’s a whole story on it’s own.  But as I began to think more seriously about things so did The Beastie Boys.  The Tibetan Freedom concerts were the kind of thing my friends and I only dreamed about attending.  And magazines would always ask how the same group that sung about doing it with a baseball bat could now be so social conscious.  Even at 17 it seemed like a dumb thing to say.  We are who we become not who we once were.

When a friend sent me a text saying MCA had died I thought of those videos, “Sabatoge,” “Intergalactic,” “So What’cha Want,” and though I’d heard MCA had cancer it didn’t seem possible for a Beastie Boy to die.  It still doesn’t.  How could a Beastie Boy die when in my head they weren’t ever real?

I turned on the news after work.  Martin Bashir was talking politics and whatnot but at the end of the show he noted the passing of MCA and that he was survived by a wife and a daughter.  While writing this I found this video and took a break from writing to watch it.  Wow.  I don’t understand how a Beastie Boy can have cancer.  They seem so imaginary and there is nothing about cancer that isn’t real.  There are several people that work on this blog that have been recently impacted by cancer, myself included, and there may not be a more real thing than cancer.  Cancer doesn’t give a shit about concerts and videos.  More importantly cancer doesn’t give a shit about wives and daughters.

My facebook feed was populated all weekend with MCA and Beastie Boy shout outs.  Friday night a friend showed up in a Beastie Boy t-shirt and I overheard several songs being played in the arena while watching the UFC on TV.  Three immature dudes made one of the stupidest and illest records ever.  Thankfully the world let them grow and change because they went on to make artistic records that only these three dudes could imagine.

So I’m guessing you’ve got a Beastie Boy story.  Please share-come rock the “Sure Shot”

The Beastie Boys – Paul Revere
The Beastie Boys – Pass The Mic
The Beastie Boys – Sabotage

10 thoughts on “THE BEASTIE BOYS…”

  1. licensed to ill and almost everything other beastie boy record impacted my life in some crazy way. as you stated i also was not a live and die beastie fan, but yes they were and are an incredible band that were influential in so many ways to so many people. mca for some reason was my favorite, i can’t really put my finger on it but his verses just hit me differently than the other guys.

    so here is my story that i will never forget about adam yauch (mca). i was working at sundance film festival in 2000. one of the most memorable moments of the festival had nothing to do with the festival. i went into a bathroom and while relieving myself in a urinal, mca walked in an started pissing in the urinal next to me. i looked over at him as said, “hey man you’re mca” and he replied “yep”, truly an awesome interaction.

    RIP mca

  2. I take almost any opporunity to jump into a real conversation about music and MCA’s death has spawned some interesting ones that have me rethinking their personal influence. Those conversations pulled up a few memories i’d forgotten but one sticks out. I used quietly disappear from family functions to listen to License to Ill in my Dad’s squad car.

  3. There has been a lot of death this year but if I am being 100% honest, MCA’s passing is the first one to actually bother me. I, literally, grew up with the Beastie Boys hearing licensed to ill the first time at Gary Wynn’s house and him showing me that the tail numbers were “eat me” backwards. It felt like we were getting something over on our parents. When I picked up a guitar for the first time as a kid I asked my Dad to teach me the riff from “Fight For Your Right.” I remember being completely disappointed with Paul’s Boutique when it came out. I remember pronouncing it as “boo ti cue” as a 15 year old. And I remember thinking there would never be a better rap song than “Pass The Mic” written ever the first time I listened to Check Your Head.

    Like the bulk of America, I’ve always been a Beastie Boys fan but never made it over to “super fan” status. I think a lot of that has something to do with the fact that they only released 7 rap albums over a 26 year span.

    One of the things I like the most about the Bboys is that they came from the hardcore punk scene and became one of the most important hiphop acts ever without ever really leaving it. Listen to their songs, almost every lyrical voice it delivered as a scream. The guitars are loud, dissonant and unyielding. Hell, Lincoln Park had no choice but to suck, their schtick had already been perfected 10 years before they were even born. Charles made a great point, the Bboy were the MTV era. They accepted and embraced the ADHD culture completely which allowed them to completely change what they were doing w/o fear and succeed everytime.

    All of that said, the part about MCA’s death is two fold. One, since my father is currently dying of brain cancer it forces me to deal with my own issues and emotions about that. But (2)…MCA is the first legend of my generation to pass suddenly that wasn’t a train wreck of a person. By all accounts, MCA was a good man. The years have proven he and co were visionaries in the hiphop/rock and roll genre but, like Charles said, cancer doesn’t give two fucks about that.

    Fuck cancer.

      1. It is an admirable quality to not give a fuck, forest for the trees, thanks for 9b

  4. I have a few Beastie Boys-centric memories. I was a hormonal 13-year-old (as a opposed to the hormonal 39-year-old I am now) when Licensed to Ill was released. I went full-on obsessed with the Beasties and took a couple of my friends with me. We divided up the band members, and I claimed Ad-Rock for my boyfriend. (Seriously, Horowitz, I’d still claim you – call me if things don’t work out with Kathleen Hanna.)

    The first time I was cajoled into karaoke a couple of co-workers talked me into doing “Brass Monkey” with them. It wasn’t until we were up in front of a bar full of people that we realized none of us really knew the words. (Had it been “Paul Revere”, I would have fucking killed.)

    Probably the most exciting Beastie Boys-related experience came when I was working at a bookstore in the San Francisco Bay area, and Mike D. came into the store to do a little book shopping. I remember standing behind the information desk and watching him, saying, “Go talk to him.” “No, you go.” “I think we should just leave him alone and let him shop in peace.” We did leave him alone. But immediately after he left, we descended on the girl working the register to find out what he bought and what name he used on his credit card (answers: The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho and Michael Diamond). Also, he is a very tiny man.

  5. I was also what you would call more of a casual fan more than a die hard. However, their impact was so huge over such a long period of time, and the fact that with MCA’s leadership they were able to become a psitive humanitarian influence as well means they’ll live on ling after a lot of their contemporaries are forgotten.

    I was fortunate to be at that first Tibetan Freedom Concert in San Fran (which MCA basically organized with the foundation he created), and what an event. First of all, an epic lineup of artists, everything from the Beasties, Rage Against the Machine, Chili peppers, Beck, Sonic youth, De La Soul, Tribe Called Quest, The Skatalites, Biz Markie, Beck, Buddy Guy, John Lee Hooker, Bjork, etc etc etc. And it was intersersed with pretty gripping live accounts from Tibetan monks regarding the atrocities they experienced. It FELT like and omportant event. And I dont think it would have happened without the clout the Beastie Boys had, and the passion that MCA in particular felt for what he was doing.

    There were 100,000 there, but we managed to be up front for every act EXCEPT the Beastie Boys. You just couldnt get through the rush towards the stage when they hit. They killed.

    I know what you mean though, celebs die all the time, but this is one that for whatever reason just seems impossible to have happened.

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