Like many Beastie Boys fans, I’m guessing, my favorite Beastie vacillated over time. When I was a kid, Mike D seemed to have the best and funniest rhymes. Then, during the Paul’s Boutique/Check Your Head era, I fell in love with MCA’s voice. In later years, I came around to Ad-Rock, as he seemed to remain the most vital and energetic.
But though my favorite member of the group shifted, I never wavered from the belief that Adam Yauch was the coolest Beastie Boy. That’s just an undeniable fact.
Now he’s gone. God fucking damnit.
Yauch’s gruff growl is obviously what you first notice about him when listening to the Beasties. Mike D and Ad-Rock have high-pitched, almost whiny voices that sound quite similar. MCA stands out on every single track.
Beyond that voice, though, and beyond the early fratty persona that defined all the Beasties in their early career, Yauch represents an eternal, aloof coolness. Whether he was rapping about egging cars or about Buddhism, MCA drew the listener in by always making it seem like he was holding just a little something back. We wanted more than MCA gave us. He never revealed too much — or at least he made it seem like he never revealed too much.
He also always seemed like an interesting guy, from his directorial efforts to his interest in Eastern religion. The Beastie Boys were as universally beloved among my generation as any artist I can think of, and I’m no exception. Adam Yauch’s death hits me like a punch to the gut. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to spend the rest of 2012 listening to Beastie Boys records.