When many of us heard about Adam “MCA” Yauch’s passing, we hopped on Twitter to express shock and our condolences. Maybe we pasted an epitaph like “you have to fight, for your right, to party,” so long as it fit within 140 characters.
But when designer Nitzan Hermon heard the news, the only “natural move” was to DM his friends in the design industry and ask a favor. “Beastie Boys are such a huge influence that a simple tweet wouldn’t have sufficed,” he tells Co.Design. Instead, he enlisted artistic talent from around the world to pay tribute to MCA in typography.
The resulting (and ongoing) collection can be seen on the blog Cause You Can’t, You Won’t And You Don’t Stop. Each entry is a Beastie Boys lyric, presented a different designer’s way, making each line a discrete work of art.
“Using lyrics (and not covers for example) introduces an element of surprise, and later exploration, when viewing the artwork for the first time,” Hermon tells us. “Reducing elements to type/graphics strips down any personal experiences (of the designer/and the viewer) and encapsulate strips of the band’s work, giving it new access points.”
It’s true. The lyrics become experiences that are referential to those who get the allusion, sure, but wholly self-sustaining messages to everyone else. You don’t need to know MCA or the Beastie Boys to appreciate universal ideas like “life is taxing” or “If you learn to love, then you’re in for a surprise. It could be nice to be alive.” And in that sense, the tribute can reach people beyond ardent fans, striking that universal chord that the Beastie Boys were so proficient at pumping out track after track.
Scrolling through the site, I can’t help but imagine each homage on an album cover, a T-shirt, or a poster, but there’s something nice about the fact that these messages are nothing more than single-serving blips on Hermon’s blog. It makes the tribute meticulously crafted, carefully curated and, no, absolutely not for sale.