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Sunday, July 12, 2015

Growing up through the lens of Beastie Boys Albums.

Life in general:

I own  the  following albums, Plus three or four EP's

Cookie Puss (1983)
Licensed to Ill (1986)
Paul's Boutique (1989)
Check Your Head (1992)
Some Old Bullshit (1994)
Ill Communication (1994)
The In Sound from Way Out! (1996)
Hello Nasty (1998)
To the 5 Boroughs (2004)
The Mix-Up (2007)
Hot Sauce Committee Part Two (2011)

So I'm 40 years old. That makes me 8 years old when Cookie Puss dropped. For the record I was not listening to  Bootleg Lp's of the Beastie Boys when I was 8 years old. I got my hands on Cookie-puss many years latter. Given the members of the band are all about  8 years ahead of me  age wise in makes sense that I came to the  party a bit late.

I was aware of MTV when I was Eleven, considering my sister is six years older than I am, I was was exposed to all her music at the time. (Mostly Hair bands, but anything on MTV was fair game.)
Regardless of how it happened for better or worse the dawning of my teenage years can be summed up thusly.
Licence to Ill is an album that was on heavy rotation still when I got to high school 1989 or so. It was all rebellion and  party, and  things our parents would disapprove of at the time. I don't listen to Licence any more. I don't think it has any redeeming qualities beyond what I have already grown out of. If however I can find an open minded 16 year old to pawn my copy off on I will do it in a second.

I received my first single disk CD player for my birthday some time around 1989 or 90. My first Cd's were a double set of  Jimi Hendrix. The first CD I ever bought for myself was Paul's Boutique.
I did not know it at the  time but Paul's changed the rap game. All I knew was the  hooks and the beats on that album were unlike anything I had ever heard. I also know I wanted to know where some of those samples came from. It sent me off exploring music, digging into my mothers records, discovering Take five by Brubeck and  learning the term "time signature." I blame that album for my desire to explore the influences behind what ever music I enjoy.

I became A big Jazz and Blues fan, I'm not sure where or when that happened, but I was listening to Muddy, Miles, Burnside, Monk, Lightni'n, Brubeck, Buddy and Mingus in high school.
I was also into Funk, Parliament, Funkadelic, Bootsy Collins, Ghram Central Station, Sly.
Needless to say I was not super popular in high school and  who fucking cares, my cd collection was becoming amazing.

Yet I waited in line to buy Check your Head when it came out on my birthday in 1992.
But those instrumentals doe?!
In 3's
Pow
Dub The Mic

My favorite cut even though it's not an instrumental  "Gratitude."

Why  was this Rap outfit playing instruments? Money Marks' Organ work was fucking funky,  deep as shit and  just amazing. Where was this coming from. Percussion, real percussion...
I ran out and bought a wah wah pedal that month. I never looked back.

I'll communication (94) came out just as the  disillusionment of realizing high school is over and now the  real work of living life had started was settling in. I always find it odd when I listen to Ill communication, I feel like that album is also unsettled. A reach back towards Paul's Boutique? A couple of Punk tracks reaching back to the pre-Rap days?
Alot of folks like to think of "Sabotage" or "Root Down" as the defining songs from this album.
I always look to "Bodhisattva Vow" A song inspired by (as I understand it) Adam Yauch's embrace of Buddhism, when compared to "Get it Together"  a more freestyle classic rap song with Guest MC Q-Tip just ripping verses over a simple beat.
An album looking forward and backward at the same time. Like I was in 1994.

(On the blogs normal topic this was also the time of my best D&D campaign when we were playing all the time with a big group.)

"The In sound From Way Out" Is a collection of instrumentals form the other albums, It was a must have , it's still in CD player rotation at my house nineteen years latter.

Hello Nasty: 1998, I had done some college in fits and starts. I was working and partying a lot afterward. Mostly working evening shifts,  three pm to eleven pm. This album  flew right past me. I mean I bought it when it came out but I never really dug into it. I was distracted, days were going by too fast. I was 23 and My memory of the time is super occluded. Not because I was a raving drunk or anything , but because the  days and nights all stretched into each other.
"Intergalactic" was the single, it's so tight. The whole album is tight.
I love the track "Remote Control" for whatever reason that four chord chorus gets me.
 I honestly don't remember what year I married my first wife or  when I broke up with my  high school girl Freind's or what the  fucking fucks was going on. I can't recon time from my early 20's. That whole part of my life is  tight and  blurred, and that's exactly how I felt about this album. Too Fast too full of bells and whistles, just too much to be remembered.

Fast forward, I'm sitting at home. I have the day off I work day shift now, I'm married and living in a not great apartment in a not great part of town.
It's 2001, I'm watching  tower 2 fall down on the  news.
The  phone rings, It's my father in law, he says "Somebody's going to get their ass kicked over this, everybody is going to go crazy."
I don't know how he predicted the future so quickly, rest his soul, he was a smart man, he was 100% correct.

It took  six years between albums and three years after  September 11th for the  Beastie Boys to come out with "To the 5 Boroughs."
It was a very Sober album. Like many people I had opinions about  politics, but I never thought about our place in the  world that deeply until 2977 people died in the bombing of the world trade center via passenger jet. (Just saying 9-11 has never done the event justice.)

"It takes  Time to Build"
"Right Right Now Now"
"All Life styles"
and Naturally the corner stone song "An open Letter to NYC"

I never understood when I heard people in my circles say "Nobody wants to hear the Beastie Boys rap about politics."
No?
By this time they were all over 35, what the  hell did you expect them to  rap about ? the  same shit they were talking about on "Licence to Ill?" Did people still want to hear them rap about weed? Seriously?

Lyrics like:
"I'm getting kind of tired of the situation
The US attacking other nations
And narration, on every station
False election's got me losing my patience
I'm a funky-ass Jew and I'm on my way
And yes I got to say fuck the KKK "

And

"All you spazzes and you freaks
Go and do your thing 'cause you're unique
If it don't hurt nobody else than
Don't be afraid to be yourself and
Special dedication and so on
to all lifestyles, sizes, shapes and forms
We gotta keep the party going on
All lifestyles, sizes, shapes, and form"

And Basically the whole content of 'We got The"

I was glad to hear these songs I was 29 at the time and thinking in a lot of different directions, most of which were looking suspiciously at things  going-on in our own government. Hearing a group that had always  supplied the background music for my life , also talking about politics and  thinking in very similar ways as I had been, was some how reassuring.

The Mix Up came out in 2007.
All analog, all instrumental. Pretty much all top level work. Proving once again there is music behind the curtains. At the time I was listening to the  Black Keys early albums, various things by Jack White, Tres Amigos by ZZ Top, Morley and Arbuckle, RL Burnside's live recordings. I was looking for any thing with rough edges as far as production was concerned. The Mix Up fit that mood and it didn't. It showed an ability to take the analog tech of the 80's and  Mix it into a slurry of beats and melody that could almost be called Ultra produced because of it's complexities. I really enjoy that album to this day and I hope somewhere someone is still stealing  samples off it for their own  work. I was glad they won a Grammy for it I actually thought it was their best album to date.

2009 Adam Yauch (MCA) was diagnosed with cancer.
He died May 4th 2012.
I don't get emotional about  people passing, I did not cry into a pillow when I heard one of the Beastie Boys died. It was a realization though that time is a commodity. A commodity that I waste like an endless stream. (I'm doing it now!)
A musician that had gone from feeling up beach going fans on Yo MTV Raps to an adult publicly apologizing for anti gay and misogynistic lyrics in his own earlier career, Organizing Tibetan Freedom concerts, and creating the Milarepa Fund.
That's what people do, they grow up.
"Sure Shot" includes the lyrics:
 "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 wives and friends /
 I want to offer my love and respect to the end."
During those three years The Hot Sauce Committee Part 2 dropped (2011)
It's a great album, really very solid from the production, the verses, to the beats. Long Burn the Fire , Lee Majors Come Again, Multilateral Nuclear Disarmament (instrumental), and Too Many Rappers (feat Nas) are stand outs for me.
As their last work it's a great rock to stand on.
When this album came out I was 36, My life as it is was and is in order. I have my fantastic wife, a house, a decent job that might disappear at any second, but hell that's American life. Putting this album into my own time line it fits, every thing is built out and reasonably matured.

I understand there are some tracks out there from Hot Sauce Committee Part 1. I hope to hear them some day, and I would buy them if they were released , but for me the  real Beasite Boy Discography ends at HSCp1.

How does this all tie into what I do here on the blog?
I'm not sure it does, but there you go.
I guess I am just looking at life right now, and trying to form some kind of personal continuity, music seems to work for me.

Next post will be about games..
-Mark.