Palmetto Playground will be renamed in honor of the late Beastie Boys at a ceremony Friday.
By James Montgomery
Photo: Getty Images
By Sowmya Krishnamurthy
The Beastie Boys will share their story as one of hip-hop’s most legendary groups by releasing a memoir.
According to the NY Times, remaining members Mike D and Ad-Rock have signed a deal with Spiegel & Grau, an imprint of Random House Publishing Group, for a book “celebrating their history and aesthetic.” The memoir is untitled currently and is slated for release in the fall of 2015.
According to the publisher, the Beastie Boys are “interested in challenging the form and making the book a multidimensional experience.” Veteran journalist Sacha Jenkins will serve as editor.
The Beastie Boys signed to Def Jam in 1984 and released Licensed to Ill, which included hits like “(You Gotta) Fight For Your Right To Party,” “Brass Monkey,” “No Sleep Till Brooklyn” and “She’s Crafty.”
In 2012, right after the group was inducted into the Rock N’ Roll Hall of Fame, group member Adam Yauch aka MCA lost his life to cancer. The tragic news sent the hip-hop and pop world reeling. “Adam Yauch brought a lot of positivity into the world, and I think it’s obvious to anyone how big of an influence the Beastie Boys were on me and so many others,” Eminem said in a statement to MTV News. “They are trailblazers and pioneers, and Adam will be sorely missed. My thoughts and prayers are with his family, Mike D., and Ad-Rock.”
While the Billboard Music Awards were full of upbeat moments, thanks to highly charged performances from Justin Bieber, Katy Perry and more chart-toppers, the show also was somber at times, paying tribute to some of the music industry’s brightest stars who died in the months before Sunday’s (May 20) broadcast.
While Whitney Houston had the glitziest of the tributes, other late legends from all musical genres also mourned at the show. Right before the broadcast, the tragic news of Bee Gee Robin Gibb‘s death broke. The pop star died at the age of 62 after a lengthy battle with cancer. While his tribute was short, it was also very sweet, with “Modern Family” star and host Julie Bowen saying, “His voice and the music of the Bee Gees will live on forever.”
Just two days before Gibb passed, the Queen of Disco, Donna Summer, died after her own battle with cancer; she was 63. British pop songstress Natasha Bedingfield recalled Summer’s influence over her own music. “Donna Summer was a remarkable woman who brought so much light to so many. If we can remember her through her music, this can never really be the last dance,” she said before launching into a rendition of Summer’s dance-floor anthem “Last Dance.”Whitney Houston‘s tear-filled tribute was handled by many. Three-and-a-half months after Houston’s untimely death in February, comedian Whoopi Goldberg said in her introduction, “I adored Whitney Houston. What all performers want and need and should get is love, and many of us here loved Whitney, and even if you’re one of those who didn’t show the love to Whitney, now is your chance, because tonight, that’s what we’re doing: We’re going to be giving Whitney the greatest love of all.”
Then, John Legend sat at his piano to perform Houston emotional, uplifting ballad, “Greatest Love of All.”
Jordin Sparks — Houston’s co-star in her final film, “Sparkle” — handled Houston’s legend-making “I Will Always Love You.” Dressed in a flowing blue and black gown, the singer belted out the track, while Whitney’s daughter, Bobbi Kristina, sat in the audience crying.
As the song wrapped, Whitney’s sister-in-law Pat Houston and daughter accepted the Millennium Award in her honor. “This is truly an honor. We thank you, Billboard; we thank you, Whoopi, Jordin; we love you, John. But tonight, the one person that should be accepting this award is the one person that Whitney loved most.”
“I just really want to say thank you to everyone who supported us through it all,” Bobbi Kristina added. “Thank you so much for showing that much love, ’cause she deserved it. There will never be another one, ever. I thank you so much.”
The outpouring of love and emotion didn’t end there. Adam Yauch, MCA from the Beastie Boys, who died May 4 from his own battle with cancer, also was remembered. Top New Artist winner Wiz Khalifa said during his acceptance speech that the Beasties took hip-hop to new levels. “I just want to thank the Beastie Boys, and we will never forget MCA.”
Later on, Cee Lo Green and Goodie Mobb may have been there to perform their own track, “Fight to Win,” but afterward, Cee Lo told the room to get their asses up for their own spirited homage to MCA with “(You Gotta) Fight for Your Right (To Party).”
Share your condolences for the four late musical legends in the comments below.
Adam Yauch was, in almost every sense of the term, a true New Yorker — born in Brooklyn, raised on the music of the Village and the Lower East Side, representing the eclectic energy and vibrant multiculturalism of NYC itself through his films and social causes — so it’s fitting that, earlier this week, the New York State Senate passed a resolution honoring the late Beastie Boy’s achievements.
The resolution — officially known as J4637 — was written by State Senator Daniel Squadron (who represents the district of Brooklyn Heights, where Yauch was born) and celebrates Yauch’s many accomplishments and contributions, including raising the profile of New York City in a time when many thought its best days were behind it, noting:
“The Beastie Boys became well-known in the innovative music scene in Manhattan’s East Village and Lower East Side with a sound and a style all their own … [they] exemplified New York through a period in which grassroots creativity and a community of iconoclastic artists helped redefine and rejuvenate a city on the ropes, with iconic imagery from Brooklyn to Ludlow Street.”
Squadron also paid tribute to Yauch’s activism, including his Milarepa Fund (which raised awareness of the abuses in Tibet) and his Oscilloscope Laboratories, which produced films like the Yauch-directed “Gunnin’ For That #1 Spot,” about high-school basketball prospects competing in a tournament at Harlem’s historic Rucker Park.
J4637 also works in a nod to the Beastie’s 1994 hit “Sure Shot” (“The music and message of the Beastie Boys evolved over the years, but they can’t, they don’t, they won’t stop changing the face of hip-hop, of music and of our culture”) and allowed the Senate to “pause in its deliberations” to remember Yauch, “a man of colossal talent and charisma.”
“Adam Yauch is survived by his wife, Dechen Wengdu, and their daughter Losel,” the resolution concludes. “He will be missed by his family, his fans and all who knew him; his dedication to his music, his activism and his heritage leaves an indelible legacy of inspiration for all other artists.”
Talk about bad timing. Beastie Boys‘ member Adam Yauch died on Friday (May 4) after a long battle with cancer, and in the midst of tributes to the legendary performer, the group is now dealing with with a copyright infringement lawsuit. Music label Tuf America is suing the Beastie Boys, claiming that the group illegally sampled some of their music.
Reps at the label are accusing the Beastie Boys of illegally sampling Trouble Funk’s “Drop The Bomb” and ”Say What” on their early singles “Car Thief,” “The New Style,” “Hold It, Now Hit It” and “Shadrach,” which appeared on their first two albums Licensed to Ill and Paul’s Boutique.
AllHipHop reports that the lawsuit was filed on Thursday(May 3) just one day before Yauch passed away, also naming Capitol Records as a defendant. The company says that careful analysis has shown that the Beastie’s incorporated elements of their copyrighted music into songs without permission. Tuf America is aiming to lock down a trial, which would determine if they are owed any damages.
Beloved children’s author and illustrator Maurice Sendak, author of the classic boyhood adventure tale “Where the Wild Things Are,” died on Tuesday (May 8) at the age of 83.
The New York Times reported that Sendak’s death was a result of complication from a recent stroke. Controversial, irascible and not entirely convinced that he was a children’s author, Sendak wrote literate, dark and moody picture books that explored the anxieties and fears of children, and their parents.
Best known for 1963′s “Wild Things,” Sendak also wrote and illustrated the equally groundbreaking “In The Night Kitchen” (1970) and 1981′s “Outside Over There,” which completed a trilogy started with “Wild Things.”
The self-taught author couldn’t be bothered with the traditions of children’s books, in which the Times noted, “young heroes and heroines were typically well scrubbed and even better behaved; nothing really bad ever happened for very long; and everything was tied up at the end in a neat, moralistic bow.”
Instead, his subjects were often rude, selfish, obstinate and occasionally annoying and sometimes they ran away from home, or were kidnapped or, worst of all, their parents disappeared. Sendak’s illustrations looked like sepia-toned pages from a 19th century etchings, sprinkled with sly wordplay and references that his youngest readers were unlikely to understand.
Though not prolific, Sendak’s work was highly influential. In addition to the abovementioned books, he also created 1960′s “The Sign on Rosie’s Door,” the 1962 boxed set collection of four tiny booklets called “The Nutshell Library and 1967′s “Higglety Pigglety Pop.” His first writing and illustration effort in 30 years, 2011′s “Bumble-Ardy,” told the story of an orphaned pig who throws a wild birthday party for himself.
In addition to his writing, Sendak also designed theater sets and illustrated dozens of other works, including ones by such legendary authors as Hans Christian Andersen and Herman Melville to William Blake and Leo Tolstoy.
But amid all the accolades for his work, it was the story of “Wild Things” hero Max that captured the hearts and minds of generations of readers. The irritable boy who likes to wear a wolf costume and sets sail for unforeseen adventures after being sent to his room without dinner was adapted by director Spike Jonze into a moody feature film in 2009. He was also the subject of a documentary, “Tell Them Anything You Want: A Portrait of Maurice Sendak,” by Lance Bangs, which was released by late Beastie Boys member Adam Yauch‘s Oscilloscope Laboratories.
His books were not always a hit with some critics, who complained about the horrifying monsters in “Wild Things” and the nudity of the young hero of “Night Kitchen,” which subjected the book to censorship. But Sendak was undeterred, arguing that life is full of horrors and that children are not immune to the reality of death, loneliness and confusion.
Born in Brooklyn, New York on June 10, 1928, Maurice Bernard Sendak was the son of Polish Jewish immigrant parents. The deaths of much of his extended family in the Holocaust imbued him with a sense of mortality early in life, which could explain the often bleak, danger-filled nature of many of his books and the peril of the children he wrote about. He was also a sickly child, which resulted in many days and weeks in bed that allowed his fertile imagination to bloom.
He began his professional career as an illustrator working on window displays for F.A.O. Schwarz and segued into illustrating other author’s children’s books in the 1950s before venturing off to write his own books. A solitary man by nature, Sendak lived in Ridgefield, Connecticut with his companion of 50 years, psychiatrist Eugene Glynn, who died in 2007, as well as his dogs and his beloved Mozart records.
Sendak appeared on Comedy Central’s “The Colbert Report” earlier this year and shared his wit and wisdom about children’s books with the host.
“There is something in this country that is so opposed to understanding the complexity of children,” he said of the controversy kicked up by some of works. “I don’t write for children. I write … and somebody says, ‘That’s for children.’ I didn’t set out to make children happy or make life better for them or easier for them.”
After the death of Adam Yauch last week, I am almost 100 percent sure that the Beastie Boys are no more. And while that’s a shame, it’s also fitting: After all, it is impossible to imagine them existing without him.
Of course, how the Beasties choose to honor Yauch’s legacy — or carry on with their careers — is ultimately up to them, which is why I can’t say with total certainty that we’ve heard the last of them. And, to be honest, it’s probably too early to even think about it. So instead, I’ll just say that if they truly are done, there will never be another group like them.
And I’m not just saying that because of their legacy, creativity or consistency, all of which have been lauded at length in the days since MCA died (and rightfully so). No, what made the Beastie Boys so unique — and so undeniable — was the magic that the trio possessed, an indefinable quality that can only be honed over decades, and never duplicated.
Part of it was pure skill; the way they bobbed and weaved through verses, often completing each other’s sentences, literally passing the mic. In a lot of ways a great Beasties song was a lot like a Globetrotters’ routine — they’d sling passes into the ether, always knowing that someone would be there to catch it, never letting the beat skip or the ball drop. And you’d just sit there and marvel at it all.
But there was always something deeper about the connection: The Beasties were brothers in arms. From beer-guzzling partymeisters to stony thrift enthusiasts to pop-cult obsessives to downright deep doyens, they grew up together — grew old together — but never lost the joy of youth. And because of that, there was a genuine sense of camaraderie that accompanied them every step of their career. No matter what they were doing, you got the sense that there was no one else they’d rather be doing it with. The Beastie Boys truly loved each other, in that unerring, unwavering way that only old friends can. You know it from the heart-wrenching statements the two surviving members have released since Yauch’s death, but more importantly, you feel it in their music.
It’s there in the goofy boasts of Paul’s Boutique tracks like “Shake Your Rump” and “Egg Man” (not to mention album-closing mega-mix “B-Boy Bouillabaisse”) and the all-in surge of “So What’cha Want,” from the follow-up, Check Your Head, where they took the leap together, expanding their sonic palette with instrumentals … and their collective consciousness on tracks like “Namaste.” You feel them becoming closer — not to mention a tighter band — on Ill Communication and The In Sound from Way Out!, having a blast on stuff like “Intergalactic” or “Three MCs and One DJ” off Hello Nasty, getting contemplative on To The 5 Boroughs. And on last year’s Hot Sauce Committee Part Two, they paused to look back on how far they’ve come … not to mention let it all hang out. It’s the kind of growth that’s inevitable, given their closeness; yet it’s also the kind that cannot be forced in any way, shape, or form.
And while there certainly have been other great hip-hop groups in the decades since the Beastie Boys first blasted onto the scene (Run-DMC, Public Enemy, the Wu-Tang Clan, etc.), none were able to sustain the kind of career — or the connection — that MCA, Mike D and Ad-Rock had. Their contemporaries were pulled apart, imploded, faded away or simply lost focus … the Beasties did none of those things. To the end, they were one team, one dream; they were never greater than the sum of their parts.
Which is why I say it’s impossible to imagine the Beasties existing without MCA, and why I’m certain we’ll never see the likes of them again. Many will try to replicate it, of course, assembled by shadowy Svengalis to feign friendship, but they’ll never beat the B-Boys, because they were actually friends. No group will share the kind of bond they did, no group will be as selfless or as tightly knit.
And if this really is the end, then all of that is worth noting, not to mention celebrating. The Beastie Boys were one of the all-time greats, regardless of genre; they went deeper than all that. Theirs was the kind of connection we all strive for and, if we’re lucky, maybe find once in our lives.
Do you think there will ever be another group like the Beastie Boys? Share your thoughts in the comments.
By Gil Kaufman
Adam “MCA” Yauch died at the age of 47 on Friday (May 4) and his Beastie Boys bandmate Adam “Ad-Rock” Horovitz remembered his fallen brother with a special tribute, posted on the group’s Tumblr account.
“As you can imagine, s— is just fkd up right now,” he wrote in the blog, which was accompanied by a picture of a hand with the message, “PWR 2 MCA” in front of a bank of CDs. “But I wanna say thank you to all our?friends and family (which are kinda one in the same) for all the love and support.?I’m glad to know that all the love that Yauch has put out into the world is coming right back at him.”
Yauch, who died at age 47 on Friday after a three-year battle with cancer, was shouted out by many of his friends, admirers and acts he’d influenced over the weekend. Fun. threw in a verse of “Sabotage” as part of their encore at Washington D.C.’s 9:30 Club on Friday night and “Saturday Night Live” played a clip of the group’s 1994 performance of “Sure Shot” on the show featuring Rihanna? as a musical guest. HBO dedicated the broadcast of last month’s Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony into its broadcast of the proceedings, where the B-Boys were inducted as only the third rap group to enter the the Hall.
Among the luminaries weighing in was exiled Tibetan Buddhist leader the Dalai Lama, who released a statement in which he said, “Adam had helped us raise awareness on the plight of the Tibetan people by organizing various freedom Tibet concerts and he will be remembered by his holiness and the Tibetan people.” Yauch, a Buddhist who was behind the landmark all-star Tibetan Freedom concerts? of the late 1990s, was blessed by the Dalai Lama last year.
MTV News also took to the airwaves to express our appreciation for the influential artist with the one-hour special “Adam Yauch: Remembering a Beastie Boy,”?during which we reflected on the legendary MC’s career and the indelible mark he made on music as a whole, as well as on society.
Kim Gordon, former bassist for Sonic Youth, who were big supporters of the Tibetan Freedom shows, issued a statement to England‘s New Musical Express, in which she praised Yauch’s lyrical abilities, “He told me once that he really liked the lyrics to [Sonic Youth's] ‘Bull In The Heather’. It surprised me that he had even listened to it. It meant a lot to me that he went out of his way to tell me that, coming from such a great rapper and lyricist.”
Another Tibetan Freedom supporter and performer, Radiohead’s Thom Yorke, posted a remembrance on the band’s website, in which he wrote, “I was very sad to hear the news of Adam Yauch‘s death yesterday.? We looked up to the Beastie Boys a lot when we were starting out and how they maintained artistic control making wicked records but still were on a major label, and the Tibetan Freedom Concerts they organized had a very big influence on me personally and the way Adam conducted himself and dealt with it all impressed me a lot. He was a mellow and v smart guy. May he rest in peace.”
The tributes followed earlier ones from the likes of Madonna?, the B-Boys’ longtime DJ, Mix Master Mike and Justin Timberlake? as well as in-concert shout-outs from Coldplay and the Red Hot Chili Peppers.
Two days after losing his life-long friend and band mate of 30 years, Adam “MCA” Yauch , Beastie Boys rapper Adam “Ad-Rock” Horovitz posted a heartfelt note on the band’s Tumblr page about his late comrade.
“As you can imagine, s— is just fkd up right now,” he wrote in the blog, which was accompanied by a picture of a hand with the message, “PWR 2 MCA” in front of a bank of CDs. “But I wanna say thank you to all our friends and family (which are kinda one in the same) for all the love and support. I’m glad to know that all the love that Yauch has put out into the world is coming right back at him.”
Yauch, who died at age 47 on Friday after a three-year battle with cancer, was shouted out by many of his friends, admirers and acts he’d influenced over the weekend. Fun. threw in a verse of “Sabotage” as part of their encore at Washington D.C.’s 9:30 Club on Friday night and “Saturday Night Live” played a clip of the group’s 1994 performance of “Sure Shot” on the show featuring Rihanna as a musical guest. HBO dedicated the broadcast of last month’s Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony into its broadcast of the proceedings, where the B-Boys were inducted as only the third rap group to enter the the Hall.
Among the luminaries weighing in was exiled Tibetan Buddhist leader the Dalai Lama, who released a statement in which he said, “Adam had helped us raise awareness on the plight of the Tibetan people by organizing various freedom Tibet concerts and he will be remembered by his holiness and the Tibetan people.” Yauch, a Buddhist who was behind the landmark all-star Tibetan Freedom concerts of the late 1990s, was blessed by the Dalai Lama last year.
MTV News also took to the airwaves to express our appreciation for the influential artist with the one-hour special “Adam Yauch: Remembering a Beastie Boy,” during which we reflected on the legendary MC’s career and the indelible mark he made on music as a whole, as well as on society.
Kim Gordon, former bassist for Sonic Youth, who were big supporters of the Tibetan Freedom shows, issued a statement to England’s New Musical Express, in which she praised Yauch’s lyrical abilities, “He told me once that he really liked the lyrics to [Sonic Youth's] ‘Bull In The Heather’. It surprised me that he had even listened to it. It meant a lot to me that he went out of his way to tell me that, coming from such a great rapper and lyricist.”
Another Tibetan Freedom supporter and performer, Radiohead’s Thom Yorke, posted a remembrance on the band’s website, in which he wrote, “I was very sad to hear the news of Adam Yauch‘s death yesterday. We looked up to the Beastie Boys a lot when we were starting out and how they maintained artistic control making wicked records but still were on a major label, and the Tibetan Freedom Concerts they organized had a very big influence on me personally and the way Adam conducted himself and dealt with it all impressed me a lot. He was a mellow and v smart guy. May he rest in peace.”
The tributes followed earlier ones from the likes of Madonna , the B-Boys’ longtime DJ, Mix Master Mike and Justin Timberlake as well as in-concert shout-outs from Coldplay and the Red Hot Chili Peppers.
Share your memories of Adam on Twitter using the hashtag #RIPMCA.
Adam Yauch’s fans will certainly remember him through the Beastie Boys‘ extensive catalog, but “(You Gotta) Fight for Your Right (To Party)” and “No Sleep Till Brooklyn” are two of the group’s most legendary releases. Ric Menello directed the videos for both singles, along with co-director Adam Dubin back in the 80s’ and he had plenty of fond memories to share of his time with the Brooklyn boys.
While attending graduate school for film at NYU back in the ’80s, Menello befriended a young Adam Yauch, Ad-Rock and Mike D, who kept him company at his part-time job as a desk clerk, talking about movies and music into the wee hours of the morning. “I wrote the movie ‘Tougher Than Leather,’ which the Beastie Boys appeared in, then Rick Rubin suggested I would be a good director for ‘Fight for Your Right’ because I had new ideas and it was better to fail at a new idea than to succeed with a crappy old idea,” Menello explained. And although he was hesitant to take on the job, for fear of “ruining their careers,” he eventually enlisted the help of Adam Dubin to co-direct, adding that he “needed someone to blame if it stunk.”
Once he accepted the job, they collectively brainstormed ideas and set to work. “We originally had an idea we couldn’t use, which was them disrupting a high-society, classy party at a gallery — because at that point, we didn’t know too many people who were classy or high-society,” he explained. “I came up with the plot, Rick Rubin and Adam added to it, and then Rick, Adam and I directed it. The Beastie Boys definitely had creative input, and I recall Adam being the ringleader. They were friendly, cooperative, enthusiastic and creative guys, especially Adam.”
Menello admits that he never could’ve predicted how legendary the clip would become. “It was kind of a dumb video, but it was done in a very sophisticated way visually. I often say the style of the video is ‘stupidity done in an intelligent way,’ ” he said. “The concept was infantile rebellion, and they were good actors for that. It wouldn’t have worked if not for Yauch, Rock and Mike D being pretty good actors and being funny. The whole point was for it to be comical as well as musical.
“Adam Yauch, at that point, was the ringleader — he had a very dry sense of humor, a little different than everyone else’s. He was also enthusiastic to do anything, which came in handy on that video and when we did ‘No Sleep Till Brooklyn,’ ” Menello continued. “If something had to be done that was the least bit risky, he volunteered immediately. There was a television set that we had to smash with a sledgehammer and it was very important that it didn’t look like a fake TV, so we made a hole in the video tube, which meant that there might have been an explosion — but he didn’t care! He was like, ‘I’m gonna smash the TV!’ All throughout the video, he was like, ‘I gotta do it, it’s gonna be great, we have to have that shot!’ And he stepped right up to do it. He was always into doing the craziest stuff, but he was a keen guy, very smart and quick to learn, so it didn’t surprise me that a few years later, he started directing his own music videos.”
The fun didn’t stop with ‘Fight for Your Right,’ though, as the boys teamed up with Menello once again for “No Sleep Till Brooklyn.” “My favorite moments in the ‘No Sleep Till Brooklyn’ video were when Yauch was called upon to be Bugs Bunny and he got the face just right for that. He also had to figure out how to open the safe they were robbing during the concert, and he figured out the best way to open up the safe was to slam his head on top of it. So he smacked his head on top of the safe and it opened, and I thought that was hysterically funny. Usually when people try to open a safe they use tools, but he said, an exact quote, ‘My generation smashes its head onto it. That’s what my generation does to open a safe.’
“Even when they were worried if something might not work, they always gave their all. We really helped make it work,” Menello added, as a final thought. “It didn’t surprise me when later, besides comedy and satire, their music became more complicated, and they got into social issues.”
Share your memories of Adam on Twitter using the hashtag #RIPMCA.