Death is a fact of life. And over the past few days you've probably read countless obituaries, tributes, and memorials to Adam "MCA" Yauch of the Beasties Boys. This isn't one of them. Despite that this is the first celebrity death that has had any kind of meaning to me (Whitney, Michael, and those who came before were lost on me), there is nothing I can say that hasn't been said before. There are far more eloquent writers out there capturing this, I suggest you read them. Rather, this is a reflection on a musical journey that brings you to the Stay Negi Monster you see before you.
I was born in the summer of 1989, Nirvana's "Bleach" had just dropped. The insanity known as grunge had just broken in to the mainstream and the glitz and glam of the 80's spandex revolution was coming to and end. Bridging these two era's was punk; "turn down that noise, it's too damn loud" punk. Music that would make any average parent squirm for the future of the nation was pouring out of the record shops.
I was not born of average parents, mine were pretty into the emerging music scenes. While I wish I could sit here and tell you I was raised in CBGB's and my first taste of punk was something obscure, in truth it was a pretty tame.
Their interest in the grunge movement was based on it's availability, they were part of the MTV generation that had music videos, there was no avoiding it. Pearl Jam, Nirvana, Smashing Pumpkins, Alice in Chains, Presidents of the United States Of America were mainstream and on constant rotation in the house. One of my earliest memories is belting out "Peaches" on long car trips with my younger brother.
And beyond grunge was punk. Green Day was a staple in my house. I remember looking at the cover of "Dookie" in awe. I had never seen anything like it and my 5 year old brain could not handle something so insane. The post-punk band, The Cure, was a favorite of my mothers, and had just hit commercial success with "Disintegration". The punk staple, The Clash was another one that was never far from the cassette player and while it wasn't played in the house, the Rollins Band did make an impression on the family.
All of this was nothing next to the Beastie Boys. Their album was my father's and he played it in the car cassette player ad nauseum. Driving around town that's what we heard. The puns involving sleep and Brooklyn and fighting to party ran rampant in the house. Their ground breaking album "License to Ill" had dropped in 1986, years before I was born and conscious of the music scene, but still managed to have an impact.
And it didn't just stay in my earlier years, when I turned 17 and was driving myself around, the format had upgraded, but the album stayed the same. There wasn't a moment that didn't have Mike D, Ad-Rock, or MCA pouring out of my speakers.
Were they punk? Well that's up for you to decide. They broke the mold. They did their own thing. And they gave no apologies for what they did. If that's not punk as fuck, then I don't know what is.
Which brings us back to the beginning. This is the first celebrity death that has any sort of impact on me. The Beasties Boys opened up a world to me and for that I am thankful for their work. I'll never be able to properly express what MCA and the others did for me. They may have rapped that "New York, you make it happen" but really, they made it happen for a generation of punks like me.
RIP MCA, may your mother never again throw out your best porno mags.