Two days ago the music world lost one of it's great performers. Legendary member of the New York based hip-hop group the Beastie Boys Adam Yauch, who performed under the name MCA, died Friday after a long bout with cancer. Yauch was 47.

Even though it was written by the an AP writer, I felt that this event had too be talked about, so I am doing the final beat post on this article posted on the Star Tribune website.

MCA, pictured above in the black blazer along side band mates Ad-Rock (right) and Mike D (left), was a legendary performer and lyrical genius with the Beastie Boys who's career spanned 33 years. The Beastie boys originally formed as a punk band in the mid 70s by Adam 'Ad Rock' Horovitz. Yauch joined later and Mike D a time after that, when they became a full time hip-hop trio.

That early punk influence was still heavily engrained into the Beastie Boys' music, enveloping heavy guitar riffs into the all encompassing genre that is hip-hop. World renowned for such hits as "Fight for Your Right," "Intergalactic" and "Sabotage," the Beastie Boys ushered in a new, goofy style of rap that hadn't quite been seen before. No matter how old they got, on stage they always looked like a group of teenagers just trying to have a good time. A personal favorite song of this writer is "No Sleep til Brooklyn," Yauch's lead verse begins at 2:30.

I have heard a lot of things said praising Yauch since his death. Some of them may be misremembering his impact a bit. I read one blog that called him the "Reverse Jackie Robinson of Rap." And yet another that suggested that he was the "John Lennon of a New Generation." I love MCA, but let's be fair to him. He was not Lennon, and he was Obviously not as important to rap as Robinson was to baseball. However, MCA was a wonderful musician and his death was a heavy blow to the music world.

As for the article written, it was very nice. It is exactly the way Yauch should be remembered I am glad that the Tribune ran it.

RIP MCA. You shall be missed.
Anyone who knows me generally knows that music plays a major role in my life. I used to walk everywhere with headphones in my ears, drowning out the sounds of the world while I walked from class to class. I still would to if my iPod weren't broken (how the battery has managed to wear down to the point of only lasting 20 minutes is astoundingly frustrating). When the One at Marquette projects were assigned and explained it felt natural to choose someone who had a background in music.

A background in music is exactly what I found in the DJ Matthew Future, the techno-producing alter ego of the mild-mannered Marquette student Freter. Admittedly electronic music is not normally in my forte. I listen to a little bit of Deadmau5 and Avicii, but I am far more likely to listen to garage rock like The Strokes or The Libertines, even a little bit of hip hop like Nas or Chiddy Bang. But, I had taken a class with Freter the semester before and knew him to be an interesting guy who had good taste in music, which I felt would make a good story.

I first interviewed Freter in Feb, and it went interestingly. One would think that a guy who was used to performing in front of so many people would be far more comfortable at speaking with just one other person in the room and a recording device, but he was nervous. He stuttered at parts and didn't quite know what to say at others. It almost seemed like he was to humble to believe his story was newsworthy.

His personality changed, however, the first time I went to get photos. Freter is truly in his comfort zone when he performs. he becomes wrapped up in the music and it becomes part of who he is. In the DJ booth he becomes a magnetic force, armed with turntables, on a mission o infect the bar-goers with dance the spirit to dance.

That nervousness the first time i interviewed him must have been an anomaly, because that was the only time Freter seemed uncomfortable telling his story. Other than trying overly hard to give me good sounding – Freter is a former Journalism major - Once he was used to me being around he was very  comfortable within himself. I got to see all the aspects of his weekly life. From the early morning valet shifts to the late night DJ shifts to the full commitment to his classes three days of the week, Freter is 100% in everything he does. It is an amazing thing to be around.

The first time I saw DJ Future perform it was at Caffrey's on a Thursday night. I was going to take photos of him for for my story and was concerned about the lighting since it is usually very dark in bars. One thing did pay off in my favor, the lighting in Caffrey's was very good. However, the crowd was very small and clearly not there to dance or enjoy the tracks that DJ Future was performing.

Two nights later at Murhpey's I had the opposite problem. It was a dark room with bright neon lights directly behind the DJ booth. In short, the lighting was terrible. It took me a while to figure it out, but eventually I did get some good shots. And the best part was that the crowd was great.

Seeing a performance from a third party standpoint, rather than in the crowd or on stage, is a very odd experience. you see the people dancing and you see the performer, but you feel removed from it all in a way that is surreal. It is the same feeling you get when you are covering any story other kind of event that you have been a participant in, I guess, but to be among the crowd and trey to remove yourself from the show so that you can be a reporter is a strange thing.

I didn't only cover Freter when he was performing. I took photos and interviewed him while he was squeezing in some study hours, and I took photos of him while he was working as a valet. The valet photos were interesting because he really wasn't busy. He really just sat around in the booth, did reading for school and listened to his ipod while waiting for customers to arrive. He told me it helps him keep up with music and stay in the DJ mindset.

Freter's work schedule is insane and his passion is infectious. He said he is concentrating on school, but you can tell that somewhere in the back of his mind, he really just wants to DJ for a living. Perhaps one day he will and I'll get to tell his story all over again.
On April 16 the multimedia package and story my classmate Alex Rydin and I had been working on was published by the Milwaukee Neighborhood News Service. This was my first major publishing i a while, so needless to say I was excited. The Beerline Trail was a great learning experience for me (as can be seen in my last post) left me with a lot of great stories. 

The assignment was to write a story on the Beerline Trail, which had recently been nominated for a Milwaukee Area Neighborhood Development Initiative award (MANDI) for the change it was causing in a couple of rough neighborhoods in the area. Unfortunately it wasn't in my area of the city, and was a 45 minute bus ride to get to. 

Our first meeting was with a man named Chris Grandt, who was managing the project for Riverworks Development Corp. It took us all of 15 seconds to hit our first bump in the road as I forgot to double-tap the record button on our digital reorder (after we had been warned to do so not 3 days before) and missed the first 5 minutes of our interview. Grandt gave us good material however, so we never ran into a problem.

Our next trip downtown cam a few days later when we set up a meeting with Mario Costantini. Costantini owns a furniture factory in the Riverwest and led the original purchase of the land. We also managed to run into some unusual characters on the way down, most notably a strange talkative man by the name of Roosevelt McCarter. McCarter seemed a few screws loose and was talking about how many Facebook friends he had. He also seemed very interested in where Alex and I were planning on watching the Marquette Basketball game that day, which needless to say made us a bit uncomfortable.

The interview with Costantini went off without a hitch, we got good material, but nothing that would carry the story. He even gave us images to use in our slideshow. We went out to take pictures for the multimedia portion of the piece, but unfortunately it began snowing, so we had to go back to the trail again another time to get decent photos and on trail interviews.

We went back to the trail again the next wee, but once again the weather had taken a turn for the worse. The only people in sight were on a basketball court or simply passing by on the street. No one seemed to actually be using the trail. This obviously gave us some hangups about the piece. If no one was using the trail then why was it news? We were able to get an interview from a local barber named Randy Johnson, but had to leave with only a handful of decent pictures.

Two weeks later Alex and I went back to the trail and finally got a decent day. There were people on the trail and we were able to get some fantastic photographs. We left thinking we would be able to complete and turn in our story later that week. Unfortunately we had an issue

When we interviewed Randy Johnson, I forgot to take down his information, and therefore my editors could not verify his existence. So what was left to do? The day before I left for Easter Break I went traipsing off back into Riverwest to track down the barber who gave me a 2 minute interview. Luckily this wasn't difficult. There was only 1 "R. Johnson" in the Riverwest zip code, and once the house was found so was Johnson.

Our piece was published about two weeks later. It was a good experience that featured a lot of hard knocks style learning on our part, but it was a heck of a good time.


    I'm a native Virginian who traveled to Milwaukee to study Journalism in the Diederich College of Communication at Marquette University. 


    May 2012
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