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On Friday 4 May 2012 Adam Yauch, known to his millions of fans around the world as one-third of the influentual and respected hip-hop rock trio the Beastie Boys, passed away at the age of forty-seven after a three-year struggle with cancer of the cancer of the salivary gland. Forming the group while still in his mid-teens, Yauch along with fellow New Yorkers Michael Diamond and Adam Horovitz, fused punk and the evolving hip-hop sound through a succession of independent releases before signing with Def Jam in 1984 and touring alongside pop superstar Madonna. They broke into the mainstream soon afterwards with the radio-friendly anthem Fight for Your Right, but it would be during the late 1980s and early ’90s that the group would become critically acclaimed artists, releasing several Platinum-selling albums and providing the archetypal model of rock and rap fusion that would become commonplace through the metal scene over the next twenty years, from Ice-T’s Body Count to the nu-metal sound of Limp Bizkit and Kid Rock.
Despite the inclusion of the lyrically-dubious track Girls on their debut album, the Beastie Boys remained a politically conscious act throughout their career, using their wealth and celebrity status to promote their activities in philanthropy. Even following the death of Yauch when American toy company GoldieBlox used the track Girls in one of their commercials, a violation of his will which stipulated ‘in no event may my image or name or any music or any artistic property created by me be used for advertising purposes,’ the subsequent lawsuit against the company finally reached a settlement when the firm agreed to donate $1m to a chairty of the band’s choosing instead of to the members themselves.
So perhaps it wasn’t purely coincidence that barely a week after Republican candicate Donald Trump was elected President of the United States a memorial in New York City erected in honour of Yauch, was graffitied with two swastikas and the slogan ‘Go Trump.’ Since his victory over Democrat Hillary Clinton, there have been numerous reports of hate crimes across the United States. On 18 November the New York Magazine published an article that claimed Trump’s ‘presidential campaign bludgeoned modern norms about the acceptability of racism. The candidate proposed a religious test for immigrants, and called a federal judge unfit on the grounds of his heritage.’ Vox, meanwhile, stated that, ‘The message his victory sent to nonwhites, Muslim Americans, immigrants and their families is clear: Never underestimate the power of racism and bigotry.’Earlier today CNN reported that, ‘Fears of heightened bigotry and hate crimes have turned into reality for some Americans after Donald Trump’s presidential win. And the list of incidents keeps growing.’ Even within the first twenty-four hours following the results of the election many incidents of racial violence had been announced across the country. ‘Among the incidents is the alleged robbery of a Muslim student at San Diego State University by two men who ‘made comments about President-elect Donald Trump and the Muslim community’, before stealing her purse, rucksack and car,’ declared the Independent. In response to the graffiti on Yauch’s memorial the two surviving members of the Beastie Boys posted a statement via Twitter that said, ‘Hate has no place in Brooklyn, NYC, or America. Join us on Sunday to stand against hate messages. 11:30, Adam Yauch Park, Brooklyn, NYC.’ Incidentally, the Beastie Boys had referenced the future President in their 1989 track Johnny Ryall; ‘Donald Trump, Donald Tramp, living in the Men’s Shelter. Wonder Bread bag shoes and singing Helter Skelter.’
— Karen Wang (@kw492) November 18, 2016
Hate has no place in Brooklyn, NYC, or America.
Join us on Sunday to stand against hate messages.
11:30, Adam Yauch Park, Brooklyn, NYC pic.twitter.com/DZXcUyZauP
— Beastie Boys (@beastieboys) November 19, 2016