"There are two kinds of pop stars I admire: those that seem larger than life and completely out of reach— your Prince, Michael Jackson, Madonna types— and those that make you think, "Hey, this person is a lot like me." Each has its place, but the latter offer a special kind of inspiration, because they bring stardom down to earth and fill life with new possibilities. You see what they are doing and start to think about what you could be doing. We lost one of these people today. Adam "MCA" Yauch, founding member of the Beastie Boys, died of cancer at age 47.
Growing up like I did in the 1980s and 90s— middle class, suburban, white, living a sheltered life but curious about the wide world outside it— the Beastie Boys were a constant influence. First they were hilarious, then they were cool, then they started to realize what was really important. My arc as a person— from goofing around and listening to Licensed to Ill as a teenager to thinking about MCA’s acknowledgment of the group’s earlier boneheaded misogyny in "Sure Shot" as I was well into adulthood— progressed more or less in parallel. I related. The Beastie Boys were exceptional not because of who they were, but what they did. And life as they lived it seemed like something to aspire to.
The Beastie Boys turned curiosity into a form of art. They wanted to know more about what was around them and learn everything they could about what wasn’t. Forget about Kurt Cobain for a second: For kids like me, the Beastie Boys invented the 90s. Technology was changing fast and the world was shrinking rapidly. Between their music and label/magazine Grand Royal, the Beasties showed how to reach out and scoop up all the best parts. New York hip-hop and punk rock, Japanese pop, Jamaican dub— all of it could be gathered and re-assembled into something that reflected who you were. This sort of cultural mixing was nothing new, but the Beastie Boys brought it to the mainstream. They were ambassadors, but their hipness didn’t look down on anybody. It felt inclusive…”
- Mark Richardson remembers Adam Yauch. Read the rest here.