Sunday, May 20, 2012

I'll Never Forget

I'll never forget how my brother would sit me down to "school" me on what is and what is NOT good music. He became particularly concerned when I tried to dress up like Madonna (my parents were a little concerned too after all I couldn't of been a day over 8). He pretty much gave up on me when I became a New Kids on the Block fan but every now and then I would get his stamp of approval. The day I asked to borrow his "License to Ill" tape to make a copy: I made my brother very proud.

As I was growing up and becoming a teenager I always found myself having a crush on "beastie boyish" boys who were skaters, punks, artists and/or just flat out crazy. I'll never forget the day that I heard "get it together": It was a hot summer night and I was sipping peach snapple on my dad's upper west side rooftop with this boy that I had a really big crush on. "Get it together" came on the radio and at the time it was the official 'summer anthem' and it got him all excited and probably gave him the courage to finally kiss me. I'll also never forget the first time that I had learned about the "Tibetan Freedom Concert". I was an overly righteous teenager that was plagued with American teen apathy and anxiously hungry for a cause. I made a mission out of learning more about the crisis in Tibet. I also studied Buddhism in a desperate attempt to find myself and to find peace and to this day I can't say that I've ever stopped. Last and regrettably far from least, a couple of weeks ago I thought to myself that I would never forget the day when I learned that Adam Yauch of the Beastie Boys had died.

I have written about a handful of artists who have passed away but nothing has hit me this hard. As a DJ, as a New Yorker and as someone who has done a lot of work in the non-profit sector: Adam Yauch's life, career and legacy is the epitome of everything I love and believe in. At first I was too broken to even write about it. Never in my life time has there ever been a "pop culture icon" to grow and evolve as much as he did. He went from being a little " Brooklyn punk" to becoming a truly compassionate humanitarian. We all know that he use to talk a lot of trash. At the beginning of his career his lyrical content was sometimes deeply offensive. I, however believe that "true greatness" shines stronger in those who can change, who can evolve, who grow and who can become a better person. We are not born to be a certain way. We are not stuck with some fate or personality. We are not good or evil. We can choose our values, we can choose a purpose, we can choose who we want to be to ourselves and to others. Adam Yauch is a stellar example of an individual who (against many odds) chose to change, he chose to be great, he chose to dedicate a big part of his life to helping make this world a better place. His life and legacy inspired and raised the conscious of millions of people and though he was not a very famous 'rocktstar' at the time of his death, I believe that the work he has done for humanity makes him one of the greatest superstars of my generation.

All philanthropic work aside, Adam Yauch was also an incredibly talented and progressive artist. The Beastie boy's revolutionary "crossover rock/hip-hop" sound is a cornerstone in pop music as we know it today. After much commercial success the group took several risks and created progressive, epic, cutting edge and truly phenomenal masterpieces such as "check your head" and "paul's boutique". The Beastie boys might not be getting heavy rotation on the radio anymore but the music they created and the Tibetan awareness movement that Adam Yauch spearheaded actually changed the world and that is worth more than a million platinum artists.