A tribute to MCA: A Beastie Boys superfan looks back

Memories of Adam Yauch, Check Your Head and a teen obsession.

At one point, my best friend Alexis and I decided that MCA would be our favorite.

It seemed like all the other girls liked Ad Rock. MCA just seemed like the right choice for us. He was the intelligent, mysterious one. We loved his crooked teeth and his lanky dance moves. The way his mouth moved when he rhymed, especially ?Well, I?m as cool as a cucumber in a bowl of hot sauce? in the ?So What?cha Want? video (video below). We watched the video, among others, over and over again on our copy of the Skills to Pay the Bills VHS tape.

My girlfriends and I got beyond the point of casual teen fans. We transformed ourselves into the Beastie Boys.

We went to thrift stores and hunted down ringer tees. Back then they were a lot easier to find at thrift stores plus there were no Urban Outfitters around. We went to the hat store in Ybor City to buy Kangol hats and purchased anything Adidas (shoe of choice were Gazelles). We called the X-Large store in New York City and bought T-shirts over the phone. We were pretty crafty (pun intended) since online shopping and the Internet wasn?t a thing yet.

Three of us (plus a DJ, Matt Dillon, before he became DJ Matty) tried out for the Gaither High School talent show with the song ?Pass the Mic.? I was the MCA part of course. We didn?t make the talent show. We were too cool for the people of North Tampa, we thought at least.

We saw them our senior year of high school at the Florida State Fairgrounds with Cypress Hill and Henry Rollins opening. Alexis and I were a little braver this time.

We shouted, ?Homeboy throw in the towel, your girl got dicked by Ricky Powell? at Powell himself, Beastie Boy photographer/hanger on. He waved us over. We giggled and told stupid jokes until he realized we probably weren't the girls he was looking for and he backed away.

In the summer of 1994, a friend and I packed up my mom?s minivan and headed to see the Boys on their Miami and Orlando Lollapalooza dates. I had gotten accepted for a credit card and planned to use it for the sole purpose of this trip. The Miami show was amazing, though the Orlando one was canceled due to bad rain.

Yauch and the boys influenced much of who many people of my generation are today. They threw away racial, religious and gender barriers. They proved that three white boys could hang with the hip-hop elite. Yauch brought our attention to Tibetan freedom causes and helped create the Free Tibet Music Festival.

The Beasties were recently inducted in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, the third rap group to do so. MCA did not make the ceremony. Ad-Rock and Mike D. read from a letter MCA wrote. ?I?d like to dedicate this to my brothers Adam and Mike,? he wrote. ?They walked the globe with me. It?s also for anyone who has ever been touched by our band. This induction is as much ours as it is yours.?

As I grew older, my obsession faded but my admiration stayed consistent. I always bought their albums and saw them the last time at the St. Pete Times Forum in October of 2004. I was nervous about seeing them in such a big venue, but they did nothing more than represent.

When their last video for ?Make Some Noise? debuted last April, I giddily watched it, feeling like a teenager again. I was hoping they would tour after MCA got better. Sadly, none of us will.

These lyrics speak the truth:

? M.C. for what I AM and do
The A is for Adam and the lyrics; true.
So as pray and hope and the message is sent
And I AM living in the dreams that I have dreamt?

MCA, thank you for living your dreams. You will live forever in ours; as well as our ears, our style and our hearts.

Editor's Note: Photos from Stephanie's Beastie days are forthcoming.


My friend Wendy and I were just talking about Adam "MCA" Yauch yesterday, hoping he would be in remission from cancer soon and that the Beastie Boys would tour again.

When I found out that the 47-year-old founding member of the band died today after his three-year battle, I was devastated.

I have special memories of MCA. When I was 16, the Beastie Boys’ album Check Your Head was released. During my formative years leading up to that, I listened to Licensed to Ill as a novelty and laughed at the video for "Hey, Ladies" (from Paul's Boutique) on MTV, but for some reason, the '92 classic hit me in the right spot. I don’t know if was my age or because my friends and I quickly became obsessed.

We listened to Check Your Head constantly, and then started appreciating the past albums. We were mad at ourselves for not giving Paul’s Boutique a chance before then. They played at Jannus Landing that May. We packed in my mom’s Thunderbird and made the drive across the bridge. While waiting for the show, Mike D stood behind us wearing a Minor Threat t-shirt and talking to some girls, not too much older than us. They soon followed him backstage. I killed myself for not trying to talk to him, but I knew I would have just stood there awkwardly.

I had barely kissed a regular boy, how would I have talked to a Beastie Boy?

About The Author

Stephanie Powers

Freelance contributor Stephanie Powers started her media career as an Editorial Assistant long ago when the Tampa Bay Times was still called the St. Petersburg Times. After stints in Chicago and Los Angeles, where she studied improvisation at Second City Hollywood, she came back to Tampa and stayed put.She soon...
Scroll to read more Local Arts articles


Join Creative Loafing Tampa Bay Newsletters

Subscribe now to get the latest news delivered right to your inbox.