Saturday, May 5, 2012

Pass The Mic

Back to a musical theme today... 

I have learned that my DJ stint on WEXT's "My Exit" will be aired on Monday, May 14, 2012, starting at 8 p.m. I have listened to the pre-recorded show, and it sounds good! I am particularly happy with the way the music works together. It was good fun to get back into the DJ chair, and direct an hour of my favorite songs. Here are a couple promos that the station will be airing in the coming week:

If I had recorded the show in the last day or so, I might have made a point to include a song by The Beastie Boys. It was sad to learn yesterday that rapper Adam Yauch (MCA) has died of cancer... so young at age 46. I regret that I never got to see them in concert, although I think I remember having the chance back in the mid-80s when they exploded on to the scene with their hit album, Licensed to Ill.

Really, who didn't have a copy of that album back in high school? I remember those songs ("You Gotta Fight For Your Right To Party," "No Sleep till Brooklyn," "Brass Monkey") getting played over and over by my classmates. In retrospect, it sounded fresh... had a rough-edged sound to it during a time when a lot of rock music had become rather safe. Also, it's hard to believe, but rap hadn't really broken through in a big way yet... I think this was the album that did it. I loved Licensed to Ill and found the "obnoxious frat-boy rap" routine they delivered on that album to be good fun, but I can't say that I expected them to last. 

The reality was that the Beasties came from a hardcore punk background, and were a little bit more intelligent than we might have given them credit for on that breakthrough album (which in some ways was a parody). Their next album, Paul's Boutique (1989) veered into a more experimental direction with help from the Dust Brothers; It was less commercially successful than its predecessor, but the band's creative use of sampling hinted at new possibilities.

I sort of lost track of the Beastie Boys until I began DJing during the early 90s−by that point, they could hardly be ignored. It was surprising for me to see how their early punk style had become intertwined with the rap, and albums like Check Your Head (1992) and Ill Communication (1994) really stood out during the alternative music boom of the period. Yauch also started branching out, becoming involved with film, and advocating for Tibetan freedom as a newly converted Buddhist. 

By this decade, the Beastie Boys were a band you thought might be around for many more years... they were still delivering the goods as recent as last year, and had just been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Like The Red Hot Chili Peppers (who were also just inducted into the Hall), the band just got better and better, showing true artistry and infectious grooves. I think many people of my generation feel like they grew up with the Beasties, and were pleasantly surprised to see how their career evolved. Unfortunately, I missed my chance to see the "three bad brothers," but do feel like we got to know them mighty mighty well...

MCA come and rock the sure shot:
"I want to say a little something that's long overdue
the disrespect to women has got to be through
to all the mothers and sisters and the wives and friends
I want to offer my love and respect to the end..."


Related Links:

"Adam Yauch dies: remembering MCA of the Beastie Boys," Washington Post, May 4, 2012

"Adam Yauch, 1964-2012: Rapper Conquered Music World in '80s With Beastie Boys," New York Times, May 4, 2012

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