Wednesday, May 9, 2012


Music has always been an important part of my life, though I think most people can say the same thing. I remember when "Fight for Your Right" was released and became a big hit. It was catchy and funny and had a cool video.  All the kids at school loved the song. I distinctly remember having a conversation in class where I took the position that the Beastie Boys were idiots, and while the song was catchy, that type of ridiculous kitsch wasn't sustainable. I'm sure I didn't use those types of terms, but my point was the same.  These guys are a bunch of fools jumping around and shouting, not musicians.

Little did I realize how wrong I was. Fast forward 10 years and I was a huge fan of their music. Check Your Head was in regular rotation in the dorm room. Ill Communication blew me away. But not only the music had improved, they also took on a more mature approach to their persona. The one thing that I was right about in their early style was that they were idiots. But as a group, following the lead of Adam Yauch (MCA) they took great pains to rectify that. See those early roles they played were just that, a role. An image that was funny, sarcastic and over the top to effect a reaction from their audience. As they matured, they began to realize the influence they had over their fans and started to use that for positive causes.

Adam Yauch who passed away late last week was the driving force behind that maturation. After all the misogynistic lyrics of their early albums, they opened Ill Communication with Sure Shot, where Yauch raps:

I Want To Say a Little Something That's Long
The Disrespect To Women Has Got To Be Through
To All The Mothers And Sisters A And The
Wives And Friends
I Want To Offer My Love And Respect To The

Not your standard rap fare, and certainly a departure from their early works. But it was important to them that now that they had the ears of their audience, that they used that power to share a positive message. Yauch went on to champion causes he believed in, such as the freedom of people in Tibet. He left that drunken idiot persona behind, and made me realize that it was just a persona while he did what he could to make a difference with the people he influenced.

Any of us can change. Most of us have the ability (and the responsibility) to influence at least a few people, maybe not the millions that a chart topping artist can reach, but at the very least our friends and family. Its important that we are always aware of that influence and ensure that we use it responsibly.

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