11 years ago on this day, Adam „MCA“ Yauch of the Beastie Boys passed away at 47, and subsequently the band ceased to exist.

I’ve been a huge Beastie Boys fan for most of my life. Their first album was one of the first records I bought with my pocket money in 1987.

Back then, they were cringeworthy at best, three insecure dudes that boasted premature party raps over clunky metal riffs. Their stage design consisted of inflatable male genitalia, and their live show included showering female cage strippers with beer cans.

By the mid-90s, they had changed. They had switched from clumsy rock-rap to tasteful funk breaks. MCA turned into their de facto spiritual leader, referencing Taoist poetry and inviting Buddhist monks to the stage.

MCA also openly addressed the misogyny of some of their earlier work in the song »Sure Shot« and offered his „love and respect til the end“ to all women.

Confronted by an interviewer with what he perceived as hypocrisy, band member Adam „Ad-Rock“ Horovitz responded with a quip: „I’d rather be a hypocrite to you than a zombie forever.“

Truth is, we all grow and learn and hopefully change for the better. That’s not a betrayal of our values, but a sign of our intelligence.

As a young music writer, I didn’t have such a problem with certain song lyrics and artist conduct that I find highly problematic today. Sometimes I come across one of my old articles or reviews and find it to be awkwardly self-centered, overly biased and highly unfair.

When we’re young, we tend to strongly believe in our ideas and assessments, and we hold on to them for dear life. Later, we constantly re-assess our opinions according to our experiences and learnings.

The Beastie Boys have taken us with them on their development path – from cringey high school boys to sensitive artist-activists to cultural icons. To me, that is a sign of true growth and maturity.

4 May 2023