As I’ve said before, I’ve never been a huge Beastie Boys fan, in terms of buying their albums and listening to them all the way through, repeatedly. But a huge number of their songs have a large hold on my heart, and I’m guessing that there are plenty of people like me who will have been very sad to hear of the death of Adam Yauch, AKA MCA, at the painfully young age of 47.
For us Gen Yers, who grew up with the MTV astronaut burned into our minds, The Beastie Boys were basically the first hip hop rock stars. Parents hated them, kids loved them, and they got both young and old very worked up for very different reasons. Listening to (You Gotta) Fight For Your Right (To Party) as I write this I realise that it’s essentially an updated version of Summertime Blues.
But more than that, it’s their later work, and their other achievements that are the reason they have a special place in my heart. Their 2nd album, the cult classic Paul’s Boutique was amost willfully left of centre considering the fact that their debut, Licensed To Ill, was a global smash. They ditched New York for California and created an alternative business empire, including a record label, clothes label and even a magazine. They campaigned for Tibetan freedom, their organ player released some pretty class music himself, and a Fatboy Slim remix of their track Body Movin’ became a staple of the big beat movement.
Oh, and apparently they invented the term mullet.
Sure Shot is a track from their 4th album, Ill Communication, which catapulted them back to the forefront of popular culture. The video for the track Sabotage was directed by Spike Jonze, highlighting their links with the skateboarding world, and is now a cultural reference in its own right. But Sureshot was always my favourite track off of the album: powered by the mighty flute loop sample from Jeremy Steig’s Howlin’ for Judy, it’s the Beasties at their best. – raw, funky, with surreal lyrics that never fall into rap cliches.
I’ll be playing a lot more Beastie Boys tracks this weekend, but this one is as good as any to get started with.
MCA by Fabio Venni on flickr