bill bodkin looks back at the late beastie boy…
“I got more rhymes than I got gray hairs and that’s a lot because I got my share.”
Adam “MCA” Yauch rapped this line in the classic Beastie Boys’ track ‘Sure Shot.’ It was a clever wink and nod to the MC’s silver dome. Little did he know that this lyric would actually change a teenage boy from Central Jersey’s life.
Since I was 13 years I’ve had gray hair and when I was in high school it was the subject of a lot of ridicule and embarrassment from classmates and teachers alike. I hated my hair, I really did. I felt like there was something wrong with me. I felt like people were laughing at me all the time, so I often hid my hair with hats. I remember for years I desperately tried to convince my parents to let me dye my hair.
Then I bought The Beastie Boys seminal album Ill Communication from Compact Disc World in Menlo Park Mall. And there it was … the lyric that changed my life.
The lyric hit me — here was someone I really admired, someone who I thought was at the same time infinitely talented and infinitely relatable, who had gray hair, accepted it, embraced and let the world know it.
Yes, this seems like such a trifling, silly thing to talk about, but when I heard that Adam “MCA” Yauch had passed away, my heart was filled with sadness because this memory, long buried in my subconscious came rushing forward. MCA had touched my life, something no musician before or even after him had ever done.
Outside of his lyric that helped me accept and embrace something I felt was a deficiency in my life, I always considered MCA not only to be the best Beastie Boy, but one of the best rappers of all-time.
Sure, my hip-hop cred isn’t exactly the stuff that would be printed in The Source or XXL, but having listened to enough of it in my lifetime, there’s been no voice I’ve connected with more in the world of rap/hip-hop than Adam Yauch. I could listen to him rap the phone book, if he were a telemarketer and rapped his pitch I’d buy everything he was selling. He was that awesome.
I mean anytime I would buy a new Beastie Boy record I would find myself nearly at the edge of my seat waiting for him to burst onto a track. That patented raspy voice had such a duality to it — it had an intensity, a real meaningful force behind it. You could really hear this on some of the group’s more serious tracks and especially on Ill Communication when he incorporated a lot of Buddhist elements into songs. Then there was the other side, a fun, free wheelin’ and pulse raising voice that got you in the mood to dance, raise the roof and part till the break of dawn. His work on ‘Shake Your Rump’ or ‘Intergalactic’ made those songs into party classics.
And one must not forget his other major contribution to the Beastie Boys — his music video direction. Under the name Nathaniel Hornblower, MCA directed some of the funniest and most memorable music videos ”So Whatcha Want,” ”Intergalactic,” “Body Movin” and “Ch-Check It Out.” He also directed, as Adam Yauch, last year’s “Fight For Your Right Revisited,” an extended video for “Make Some Noise” from Beastie Boys’ Hot Sauce Committee Part Two, which starred a slew of celebs like: Elijah Wood, Jack Black, Will Ferrell, Seth Rogen, Danny McBride, John C. Reilly, Steve Buscemi, Kirsten Dunst, Orlando Bloom and countless others.
It’s a day today, we’ve lost one of the true legends of the music industry — a man who’s unique and unforgettable voice helped bring hip-hop to masses, who’s strength of character helped bring the plight of the less fortunate to the forefront of people’s minds and who through one small sentence forever changed my life.