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‘Real Recognize Real,’ and MCA Was Real

A few more stray thoughts on the late Adam Yauch

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A shrine to Yauch this weekend on Avenue A, his old stomping grounds.(Brad Barket/Getty Images)

• Really do read David Samuels’ musings in Tablet Magazine. I had never actually thought about what Samuels reports Rick Rubin believed, which is that Ad-Rock (Adam Horowitz) was the most talented of the three and indeed could have had a stupendously successful solo career, even compared to that of the Beastie Boys (if Eminem could be Eminem, think what Ad-Rock could’ve been). Samuels notes that he didn’t do this “because Adam Yauch felt they should be there—which meant it was the right thing to do.” Ad-Rock’s obvious (now) superiority as an MC never occurred to me, I believe, for the same reason.

• The claiming of the Brooklyn Dodgers’ mantle evident throughout their franchise, including in the weird Jackie Robinson atrium at Citi Field, always felt inauthentic to me. But I have newfound respect for the New York Mets after all their batters walked up to Beastie Boys tunes Friday night.

• A while ago in Tablet, Liel Liebovitz argued that because Licensed to Ill‘s party-boy anthems were true to who the artists actually were, they were far more authentic and better hip-hop than the gangsta poses (or even reality) of future hip-hop stars. Sincerity and form matters as much if not more than substance. This argument was echoed as I read this oral history of the Beastie Boys and read DMC (of Run DMC) argue the following:

DMC: For the first couple of days of the tour, the towns we were playing were in Alabama, Florida, Tennessee—this was the black South. We expected to hear boos, so we were reluctant to be on the side of the stage, to see them get disappointed. But then from the dressing room, we’d hear “Yeaaaaaah! Yeaaahhh!” It was the black audience, praising these dudes. The reason they were so good: It wasn’t white punk rockers trying to be black emcees. They wasn’t talking about gold chains or Cadillacs. They were white rappers rapping about what they did. Real recognize real.

• In Jewcy, David Meir Grossman focuses on Paul’s Boutique, which is my favorite Beastie Boys album.

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youractualmom says:

Ad Rock’s superiority as an MC? If you you’re really going to split that hair, MCA had more solo rap songs throughout all of their releases, which were also lengthier and tended to be more complex than your average Beastie song.  You really think Ad Rock’s MC skills could’ve propelled him to Eminem solo success? Or that he would’ve wanted that?  I got over the need to contextualize the Beastie Boys within a “gangsta” or mainstream hip-hop scene years ago. On a basic level that’s maybe disappointment but they  had no desire to conform and managed to make amazing music. They were never going for lyrically dense post-1993 standard for East Coast hip-hop, they kept it humorous and focused more on the rhythmic construction of their raps as well as self-producing their last 6 albums with great success. They went on to find more evolved production, Rick Rubin’s specialty became the mixing board, not hip-hop beat making (an old school beat for “99 Problems” or a Lil Jon song notwithstanding). 

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‘Real Recognize Real,’ and MCA Was Real

A few more stray thoughts on the late Adam Yauch

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