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"Paul Revere" was the first rap song that I knew all the words to. I listened to "Licensed to Ill" so much that I wore the tape out. Every track on that album has a distinct memory for me-- roller skating at Skate City to "Brass Monkey" in middle school, and also dancing around my kitchen a decade later with my two toddlers. Listening to "Girls" on the bus to school in the mornings, and then that one day realizing that the lyrics were kind of wack (and loving that song anyway). Besides, I couldn't stay mad at the Beasties. Even when they spat the occasional wack line, they were so goofy that you couldn't keep from busting up long enough to stay mad at them. They were my favorites from way back.
& MCA was my favorite Beastie Boy. I fell in love with his voice on that first album. I still remember pressing my ear against my boom box, hungrily listening for the sound that was so distinctly him-- booming and raspy. He gave me feelings that I didn't have words for back then, but there was a roughness and depth to his voice that moved me more than any other mc.Once, when I was in high school I was talking on the phone with my boyfriend. Rather, he was talking and I was kind of bored and listening to the Beastie Boys. I absent-mindedly started rapping along with MCA on "Time to Get Ill" and my bf freaked out because he thought there was a dude on the phone. I don't think I ever did convince him that it was just me. I think I had listened so closely to that album for so long that it became such a deep part of me that sometimes it would just come bubbling up and I could channel MCA and convincingly say, "today I feel like chillin just as chill as I can," because after all that listening, he was kind of in me, you know?
the Beastie Boys were the soundtrack for a lot of people my age growing up. On Facebook, I am really amazed by the diversity of people who are posting about MCA's death. But the Beastie Boys really did bring a generation together. Even the hardcore hip-hop heads I know who will tell you white boys can't rap will give The Beastie Boys their due props. People I remember as metal heads in high school miss MCA too-- then again, they were a punk band first. & The Beastie Boys definitely had a gift for laying bare the common roots of hip hop and punk-- the frustration of youth, the intensity, the anger, all tinged with a trace of humor and self-deprecation. For me, MCA's rasp perfectly epitomized everything about the irrepressible immediacy of youth bubbling up demanding to be heard. He will be missed.
I'm going to go now and spend the day dancing to The Beastie Boys. Just like in high school, I will dance like crazy in my bedroom-- with no trace of self-consciousness-- as if MCA and I are the only 2 people in the world. After all this time, he is still my favorite. RIP.

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riverafire

September 2013

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