It’s the Internet, so you know, you gotta write something about really important dead people as soon as possible. Here’s my tribute to MCA of the Beastie Boys, as awesome rapper, gutsy feminist, great filmmaker, and nerd-beater upper.
Soderberg, saying what needs to be said.
At the start of Mike Dawson’s graphic novel/memoir Freddie & Me, a young Dawson sees Freddie Mercury in drag on his TV and laughs out loud. This is the start of his love affair with Queen and its flamboyant singer, and is something I’ve been thinking about in regards to the first time I really noticed the Beastie Boys. I was eleven years old when I saw “Intergalactic” on the Pepsi Chart Show with my family, and I was bewildered by these funny-looking dorks on our screen (obviously I didn’t know what “cool” was, ergo dorky). What is this? I was hooked. My dad brought me back Hello Nasty from the library not long afterwards and that was me from that point: hip-hop you don’t stop.
Remembering particular MCA lines is a little tricky for me, although when I start listening to their records, a bunch come flying out - “don’t smoke cheeba/can’t stand crack”, “never been dumped cos I’m known the most mackinest”, “get your hologram on off of Wolf Blitzer”, “LIKE MA BELL I GOT THE ILL COMMUNICATIONS” - but I feel this is purely because he was always one-third of a perfect unit. I remember reading the lyrics to Hello Nasty as a kid and seeing how these dense lines flowed from song to song, becoming one eternal sentence, no divisions drawn as to who was saying what and at what point. This is totally the point, because the Beasties were one of those perfect groups that you honestly couldn’t imagine any other way - everything was “us” and “we said”, not “he”. MCA, Ad-Rock and Mike D were thirds of a whole and I can’t bring myself to believe that one-third is no longer on this planet.
I’ll always be disappointed that I never saw the Beasties live, a dream I’ve held since seeing this MTV special of their 1999 Glasgow show. When it aired, this special made me think a whole lot about what going to gigs would be like - that they would always be in the round, that the performers would be in uniform and that the crowd would always be this hype. Obviously they weren’t always like that. But I still look at this in awe and wish I truly was there. Hell, it’s more than enough that it happened - it’s more than enough that we got Adam Yauch and it’s more than enough that we got the Beastie Boys.
[thx to the beautiful human being that uploaded this to youtube]
frankenstein. - Impala ‘61 (off Rappin’ Ass Nigga, 2011, self-released)
First heard about this dude through the (now essential) Stay Hatin’ podcast and the Tumblin’ beast that is Big Andrew Noz and yeah, Rappin’ Ass Nigga is a fun mixtape with just lots and lots and lots of really spirited and playful writing. Young Tumblr dudes and their rappity rappin’ is really inspiring me at the moment. “Impala ‘61” is my favourite track off it, in part because it flits from one mood to another throughout its four minutes, reminding me a little of the Beasties’ immortal “B-Boy Bouillabaisse” (and that’s probably just because it turns into a different song on a whim and I’m a lazy writer and can’t think of any other reasons).
Beastie Boys - Putting Shame in Your Game (off Hello Nasty, 1998, Grand Royal)
This was my favourite album from ‘98-‘01 (when Tool’s Lateralus took over and I got really heavily into metal) and it’s to this day my favourite Beasties LP. On that third verse, Ad-Rock spazzes. the. fuck. out.