Public Enemy's Chuck D, a fellow hip-hop pioneer, pays tribute to the Beastie Boys star

By EW Staff
Updated July 23, 2012 at 04:00 AM EDT

We toured with the Beastie Boys when they were supporting [their 1986 breakout] Licensed to Ill in 1987. It was hard for a hip-hop artist outside New York to get respect, andhere were three white kids. They were almost like Jackie Robinson in reverse, because rap was totally a black and Latino thing. People would ask me in ?98 and ?99 when Eminem came out, what I thought about white kids following rap. And I was like, ”The Beastie Boys did that s? 14 years ago!” I learned things from them that were priceless. They developed the first website in hip-hop;they created their own videos in-house; they always made innovative albums.They kept it moving. It was an honor to be asked to induct them into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame last month, and to know that Adam had requested that I be the one to do it. I knew he was gravely ill; I knew it was not looking great. But I expected him to pull out of it. It made a lot of this emotional; I wanted to be able to induct them with the grace and dignity of kings, because it was a benchmark moment for them to be in there alongside Run-DMC and Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five. When people list the all-time greatest hip-hop acts and don?t name the Beastie Boys, I scratch my head. What world are you living in? (As told to Kyle Anderson)