You Can’t You Won’t and You Don’t Stop

When the tweets started rolling in yesterday afternoon that Adam Yauch had died, I hoped it was just another Twitter hoax. But then reputable news sources verified it, forcing me to believe it.

I still remember the first time I heard the Beastie Boys “License to Ill.” Because of extra-curricular activities in junior high school, I took the late bus home and my friends and I shared new music on the 20 minute ride across town. Of course, “Fight For Your Right” had decent radio play, so I knew that one, but one friend had the original cassette tape and a fancy walkman. Shoving her headphones over my ears, she said, “Listen to this one.”

It was the first time I heard “Paul Revere” and I was definitely hooked. I spent the rest of 8th grade memorizing the lyrics, and my friends and I walked the halls of Mission Junior High quoting not only “Paul Revere,” but “Brass Monkey,” “Slow and Low,” “No Sleep Till Brooklyn,” (though we sometimes changed it to “Bellevue”) and of course, “Girls.”

“License to Ill” was the soundtrack to 8th and 9th grade, and while my Beastie Boys fandom hasn’t always been as intense, it’s always been something I come back to.

I love this photo of Adam Yauch, because it shows such a human side of him. Rappers today–sometimes, deservedly so–are criticized for bombastic lyrics and gluttonous lifestyles. Yes, some of their songs are basic party-life anthems, but then they had lyrics like these, from “Sure Shot”:

I want to say something that’s long overdue
The disrespect to women has got to be through
To all the mothers and the sisters and the wives and friends
I want to offer my love and respect to the end

Godspeed, MCA.

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