Saturday, May 05, 2012

R.I.P Adam Yauch (Beastie Boys)

Adam Yauch has died of cancer, aged 47. Very sad news.

Yauch was involved in directing the group's videos, as Nathaniel Hornblower. Read a letter he wrote to the New York Times in 2004, regarding their negative review of their video - 'CH-CHECK IT OUT'; One Goat, on Account.

RIP MCA: Vintage Ricky Powell Photos From the 'Paul's Boutique' Sessions

ADDED New York Times reports "he died at 9 a.m. on Friday at New York-Presbyterian Hospital in Manhattan with his parents, his in-laws, his wife, Dechen Wangdu, and his 13-year-old daughter, Tenzin Losel Yauch, at his bedside. He had been admitted to the hospital on April 14 after a three-year battle with cancer of the salivary gland. He was conscious until the end."

Expat NZer Kirk Harding on the Beastie Boys..."...pauls boutique was monumental, but it was so different that it took me a minute to catch up. but check your head was whole other story. it was another leveling bomb-blast to my musical universe. it turned me on to a whole new world of music and for that moment the beasties couldn’t get any cooler. their magazine, clothing line, record label all spoke to me and hipped me to artists as diverse as lee scratch perry, jorge ben & at the drive in.

i recently sat with lyor cohen and asked after adam. lyor had just returned from the rock’n’roll hall of fame ceremony, where the beasties boys had been inducted. i could instantly tell by the look on lyor’s face that the news was bad. he responded by simply saying “he’s not well”. i knew at that moment that this day was coming and i was gutted. "

Bill Adler, formerly of Def Jam Records, remembers Yauch. Source.

“My first impression of the Beastie Boys—they were little punks, they were brats. That was my first impression of them. They certainly weren’t interested in making nice with me although I didn’t really take it personally, that’s just the way they were at a time. They got pulled into the Rush artists family and they started going out on tour with Run-DMC, LL Cool J, Houdini and the rest of our guys, and they relaxed a little bit. Not just with me, but with all of us who were working with Russell Simmons at the time, so became closer then.

Adam struck me as the angriest [member] of the Beastie Boys. He really wasn’t a happy guy and he didn’t mind expressing his unhappiness, and I don’t mind talking about it now because he really transformed himself. It was quite a long time ago, 20 years ago or more, that he found Buddhism and he managed to transform himself and calm himself down, so the last 25 years of his life were much more peaceful than the first.

Licensed To Ill came out in 1986 and that was everybody’s first taste of the Beastie Boys, and they lived up to their name. Then they came back three years later in 1989 with Paul’s Boutique and it was a very different album, it was very much in tune with the times, in terms of what was going on with hip-hop at that time. It was really a conscious rap album and it was deliberately that way. After Licensed To Ill, they felt some regret about the sexism on the album, and they really were regretful. It’s not like they apologized for it on Paul’s Boutique but it was going to be a lot more woman-friendly than Licensed To Ill had been.

The thing to remember about the Beastie Boys is that they were a punk rock band before they started making rap records. They started making records, I believe, in 1982 and a quasi rap record in 1983 with Cooky Puss. In 1984 they signed with Rick Rubin and Def Jam and they started to release rap singles produced by Rick, so that’s when I started working with them. I worked with them in ‘84, ‘85 and in ‘86 here’s comes Licensed To Illand in ‘87 Licensed To Ill was the biggest record in rock 'n' roll.

The whole idiom was so new, rap was so new, hip-hop was new, it’s not like there were rules about how one was supposed to compose himself. Nothing was set in stone at that point and they were unique—these were three white kids, they weren’t trying to use the model of some of the great black rappers who had preceded them. They were very much who they were and they brought their punk rock sensibility into it and they rhymed about the things that mattered to them, and in that way, they were precursors to somebody like Eminem. When Eminem came out he didn’t sound like Jay-Z and he didn’t sound like Snoop Dogg and he wasn’t writing about those kinds of things, he had his own personality and it was the same thing with the Beastie Boys then.

The thing to understand about the Beastie Boys is that the music itself was so magnificent and it was so effective. I remember the Beastie Boys go out at the bottom of the bill on the Raising Hell Tour in 1986—It’s Run-DMC, LL Cool J, and Houdini—and the Beastie Boys scampered out for 25 minutes at the beginning of the night every time. They were playing nothing but arenas and the crowd was about 95 percent black, so you’d imagine that that’d be a tough crowd for the Beastie Boys, but they went out and the music was strong and the performance was strong and they made friends every single night all summer long. It was not a problem, they were accepted because they were wonderful.

Their biggest contribution as a group might not even have been the effect within hip-hop. To me, it’s more about their effect on the rock mainstream. They emerged at a moment when rock ‘n roll, in the early-to-mid 80s was terribly bloated and self-important—it was decadent truthfully—so they brought a punk energy back into the rock mainstream. They were funny, they were smart, they were quick. The songs were well-shaped and hard-hitting and they were not pretentious at all. Their entry into the rock mainstream, I’d say really revolutionized things. There were many bands that followed in their wake and took inspiration from their example.

Yauch was the best conventional rapper of the three guys, he’s the one who sounded most like a “rapper” as far as I’m concerned but he was also a musician and he was a producer, so he always had a strong hand in the production of the band’s recording and I think his personal journey must’ve had its affect on his two partners as well. That transition from a Beastie Boy into a post-Beastie Man, somebody who grew up a little bit and had a better idea of how to treat women, because Adam himself went through that transition and it undoubtedly had an effect on his partners and on the group’s music."

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