Photo Credit: Noah Love
Beastie Boys - “An Open Letter To NYC”
R.I.P. Adam “MCA” Yauch. I haven’t met many people who liked the trio’s 2004 album To The 5 Boroughs (well, except for Rolling Stone's David Fricke, who gave it five stars), but it was my first real introduction to the music of Ad-Rock, Mike D, and Yauch. I was in high school and don’t remember much about buying this album, other than the cool artwork (showing a New York skyline with the World Trade Center still standing) and hilarious liner notes. I would later work through the rest of their discography―Paul’s Boutique is unquestionably one of the best hip-hop albums of all-time―but I’ll always have a soft spot for “An Open Letter To NYC”. I don’t think there are many songs that can top this one in terms of expressing city pride (the “two towers down but we’re still in the game” line is poignant even today). Can’t go wrong with the "Sonic Reducer" sample either.
In my first year of university, myself and some friends in my program all chipped in and bought a copy of Rock Band and every Thursday got together for a few beers and played. We kept it in my friend Matt's residence room and every week would annoy the heck out of everybody else on our floor (and probably the floors directly above and below us). While my go-to songs when I had the plastic microphone were Yeah Yeah Yeahs' “Maps” and Radiohead's “Creep”, we always counted on Matt to wow us with his lyrically spot-on rendition of the Beasties' classic "Sabotage" performed at the top off his lungs (no easy feat when you’re inebriated). In fact, I only have good memories associated with listening to the Beastie Boys, memories of good times, better friends, late nights, and maybe a little bit too much booze. That Rock Band kit was left at the curb when I moved out of my house the year afterwards, but it had a good run.
I’m not sure why I decided to write this post. There’s definitely plenty of more poetic eulogies for MCA out there from people that knew him personally and by no means am I the biggest Beastie Boys fan. I guess I just felt like sharing. Two things that I found remarkable about the observation of Yauch’s passing is that a) almost everyone I know can name at least one song by the trio and b) there was virtually no jokes in poor taste about his death on Twitter or Facebook (unlike Whitney Houston, Kim Jong-il, etc.). And while I’m bummed out that this means I’ll never get to see the Beastie Boys perform, we’ll always have MCA’s rhymes to remember him by.
"Now my name is MCA, I got a license to kill/I think you know what time it is, it’s time to get ill."
All flags in New York should be flying at half-mast today.