The one where I gotta Check My Head
Photo courtesy of H4NUM4N
Its been a tough week for childhood heroes for us at Tha Well. Earlier this week you got to read of Erik’s love and disappointment for Junior Seau and just this morning I learned that Adam Yauch (MCA) of the legendary Beastie Boys died of cancer this morning at the age of 47. If all of our childhood heroes are dying and things happens in threes, I need an APB out on Vickie the Robot from Small Wonder like right now.
I know I’m only 28 and I was barely alive when hip hop new and fresh and the likes of LL Cool J, Kurtis Blow, Run DMC, and the Beastie Boys were beginning to earn the first commercial acclaim for the new minted “hip hop,” but through my own subsequent research and thirst for hip hop history I feel like I may as well have lived in that era. In fact, until proven otherwise through photographic evidence, my mother will never convince me that I didn’t rock shell toes and a Kangol in my baby crib.1
So, while I may not have experienced first hand the dawn of a new genre of music and culture, I can say this definitively…
The Beastie Boys are the greatest rap group in history.
Looking at my picture you may think that I’m some sort of suburban black kid, but I assure you that while I do have some bougie sensibilities (I sometimes like to eat my Snickers bar with a knife and fork), I grew up on the Northside of Thug Town, O-killa-homa2
So since I’ve established that I am a real life person from the “other side of the tracks,” my authority on rap music should not be questioned.
When I say that the Beastie Boys are the greatest rap group in history (See above), I mean it in the sense that no other rap group showed more growth throughout the course of their career. Well, The Roots too.
In today’s age of social media and unlimited storage capacity, everyone just “loves” music. But what I’ve learned is that a good 90% of these people really don’t love music as much as they say so. How do I know so? Because most of these people who “love” music only listen to one particular genre or a handful of artists. They don’t love music, they love YMCMBOPP or MMG or whatever is hot.
Another point is that these same people will excoriate an artist or a band for a new sound or for trying something different, evolving. Words cannot begin to describe the rage I get when I hear a person say something similar to this. It makes me want to do this to a kindergartener.
I don’t understand why anyone would want to listen to the same album, over and over and over and over and over again with no derivation of theme or style. That’s why we can’t even remember track names anymore, because contemporary artists albums all sound the same. I guess its apropos why they don’t even both to change the titles they just add another “volume.”3
The Beastie Boys never did that. They started punk, went rap, switched to alternative, and back to rap. It was remarkable. Their musical framework went from real instruments to samples and synths to a coalescence of errything. And they were dope because of it. A model to what people who call themselves musicians and artists should aspire to.
Earlier this year at the Grammy Awards during an acceptance speech, Dave Grohl said, “Singing into a microphone and learning to play an instrument and learning to do your craft, that’s the most important thing for people to do.”Dave was speaking to the new crop of musicians, but his words are evident in the careers of the Beastie Boys. They were musicians who were musicians, they evolved and were better for it. We were better for it.
That is why the Beastie Boys were the greatest. They werent the most lyrical as side from “Paul Revere” they never had the tightest beats, but they were willing to step outside the box and experiment musically. Today in rap experimentation means adding a female R&B singer to a hook instead of a male R&B singer.
Again, its sad to see folks you grew up on start to die off. It’s another thing when it feels like the end of an era to the whole culture you grew up on.
1. I’m kidding, we were poor I didn’t have a crib, I had “the other side of my moms bed.”
2. It would probably be a bad idea to watch more than 6.7 seconds of that video, but just wanted to give you an idea of where I grew up at.
3. I cant wait to debate my non-existent children on why “The Carter 37” isn’t as good as “The Carter 19”4
4. Please someone shoot me before either Lil Wayne puts out that many albums or I have children. Whichever.