Thursday, May 24, 2012

Beastie Boys speak out about Adam Yauch's death

May has been a dark month for music with the loss of Donna Summer, Robin Gibb, Chuck Brown, and the Beastie Boys' Adam Yauch (pictured above). The passing of the Beastie's MCA has been the hardest for me. He was the youngest of those recently departed and the Beasties had a huge impact on my generation. I'll never forget checking Twitter that Friday afternoon while navigating my massive double stroller through Belk in South Park - the lump in my throat, the emptiness in my chest. I immediately texted one of my best friends in West Virginia who is a huge fan.

I felt so fortunate to have interviewed Yauch when the Beasties brought its Get Out and Vote campaign to Charlotte during the 2008 election. And what a rare treat to see them in a club - their first Charlotte show since Lollapalooza 1994.

Yesterday "Rolling Stone" published the first interviews with Yauch's band mates Adam Horowitz and Mike Diamond. You can read both online here and here.

Since its induction into the Rock n' Roll Hall of Fame in April and Yauch's death weeks later, a lot has been written about the band's evolution and the misogyny and violence that colored its early work.

He was the first to speak out against those sentiments later in the band's career, but I never took the sexism of "Girls" or the guns in "Paul Revere" seriously even as a kid. While off color and mildly offensive at times, their rhymes didn't seem mean-spirited. The trio became probably the most feminist of any male artists in hip-hop and possibly even in rock for that matter. Kate Schellenbach (now a producer on Ellen Degeneres' talk show) was their original drummer. The Beasties later put Schellenbach's groundbreaking all-girl band Luscious Jackson on their Grand Royal label. And Adam Horowitz ended up marrying Kathleen Hanna of the riot grrrl band Bikini Kill and the socially conscious dance trio Le Tigre. She's like the Gloria Steinem of my generation.

I've made a point of playing more Beastie Boys for my two young sons since Yauch's death. If they grow up to be as open-minded and evolved as Yauch and his band mates became, that's all the better.