Here’s a crazy story: When the Beastie Boys dropped “The New Style” and seemingly took over my local radio station, which played their songs every hour and sometimes more, I thought they ruined hip-hop. How could the genre continue to exist, I naively thought back then, if three white frat-boys were allowed to skeet all over it?
Here’s another crazy story: Last night, I told this story to my friends, and they laughed at how stupid I was. The Beastie Boys weren’t just a white thing – they resonated with an entire generation of bratty kids. Rappers continue to sample their rowdy anthems to this day. You can hear echoes of the Beasties everywhere, from MGK and Eminem to Waka Flocka Flame and 50 Cent (who depicted himself as a young boy rocking out to the group in the movie Get Rich or Die Tryin’).
Yeah, I was a dummy when I was young, though I can’t help but sigh that I debated my initial dismay at the Beastie Boys the night before Adam “MCA” Yauch passed away on May 4 after a years-long battle with cancer. The Beastie Boys were shocking, not just because they rapped like drunken punks, but because they embodied a rock and roll spirit within the strictures of hardcore rap. Run-DMC may have come first, but the Beastie Boys arguably did the rap-rock thing better, and though many have followed in their wake, none (with the possible exception of Rage Against the Machine) has ever come close to matching them.