The first tape I ever bought was the Beastie Boys‘ Licensed to Ill. From that point on through the next five years or so, I listened to lots of hip-hop. I think it’s safe to say that it was the defining influence on my musical tastes through about the time I was in ninth grade. Since then, however, hip-hop has mostly fallen out of my playlists, even as the genre has successfully grown to wider, more mainstream audiences. Why this happened isn’t entirely clear. To some extent, I think that there was a decline in the quality of the hip-hop being produced. My impression is that in the late 90’s/early 00’s, great beats and clever rhymes took a back seat to style and attitude.
On the other hand, my tastes have changed over the years and I simply may have moved away from hip-hop and taken a greater interest in other styles. Whatever the case may be, it’s been about 20 years since I was a big hip-hop fan. Lately though, I’ve been thinking I should take another look at some of the up-and-coming stars of the genre. 2011’s Shabazz Palaces album, Black Up got lots of critical buzz and today’s tune (oh Shabazz… what’s with the title?!?) is exactly the kind of track that’s going to help restore my interest in hip-hop.
As we remember Adam Yauch today, I’ve thought about all the wonderful Beastie Boys music and memories that I’ve had over the years. But perhaps the greatest tribute I can make is to say that my interest in hip-hop that he helped to spark so many years ago remains relevant and influential to me even today. Rest in peace, MCA.