By Clay Shields
On May 4 this year, after almost three years battling cancer, Adam “MCA” Yauch passed away—a sad day not only for B-Boys, but for all of music.
MCA was a founding member of the musical powerhouse the Beastie Boys, as well as the Milarepa Foundation, a non-profit responsible for the international, decade-long Tibetan Freedom Concert series, the biggest, US-based musical benefit since 1985’s Live Aid.
In 1986, MCA, Michael “Mike D” Diamond, and Adam “Ad-Rock” Horovitz—the three emcee’s behind such genre-bending classics as “Fight for Your Right (To Party)” and “Sabotage”—cut their debut full-length album, Licensed to Ill, the first hip hop album to top the Billboard charts. Over twenty-five years later, the Beastie Boys were still touring and had produced seven platinum or better albums by April 2012, when they were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame (just a month before MCA’s passing).
But the honors and homage aren’t stopping there (“You can’t, you won’t, and you don’t stop”). On Friday July 27, Al’s Bar (Sixth and Limestone) will play host to “Sheisty Khrist & Sundog Revival present The Beastie Boys: A Tribute”—an event which will be equal parts hip hop extravaganza, ‘80s (dress-up) dance party, and charitable benefit concert. The show will boast many local musical acts—Miss Cass (“Miss Cassette” for the evening), DJ So Free, Tommy Miller (DJ of Club Dub)—and will center around the main event, a live performance of Licensed to Ill, starring Hendrick Floyd (“Sheisty Khrist”) as Ad-Rock, Carlos Villanueva (aka “Fidel Hasflo”) as Mike D, and Justin Long as MCA (topped off with a full-band backup courtesy of Sundog Revival, no less).
And it’s all for a good cause! In the activist spirit of MCA, Long and Floyd partnered with the Markey Cancer Center to ensure that every cent made by the event will go directly toward the medical expenses of two families in need. It’s all about having a good time while honoring a legacy and positively effecting someone’s life directly—“Hip hop is gonna do that…and hip hop from the ‘80s is gonna do that, which is even cooler,” as Floyd put it.
So, this is what you need to do: save up a little cash, bust out the high-top sneakers, and listen to Licensed to Ill every night until your July 27 trek to Al’s Bar, where you will be welcomed by The Beastie Boys: A Tribute. And I’m serious about jamming Licensed every night until then. “We want people to learn this album before the show…so they can be rockin’ with us,” Long and Floyd insist with a smile.