Growing up in New York City--and specifically in Manhattan--has completely, tremendously informed myself as a person and also everything musical that has come forth from me and everything that my band [Beastie Boys] has done. What still inspires me to continue to live here is the fact that even as much as New York has changed--and there's a Starbucks on every corner and it's so expensive to live in Manhattan and all these things that are different from when I grew up here--the bottom line is that when you walk down the street or get in a cab or you're on the subway, you're still amongst humanity. It's not segregated the way many American cities are.
Message-wise, unfortunately, hip-hop is devoid, at this moment, of any prominent, popular or radical spokespersons. To me, the things that appear in hip-hop today, unfortunately, are not radical. The things that the media blow up as being radical--whether it's homophobia or sexism or acquiring material possessions--in our society, I hate to break the news to people, but there's nothing radical about any of those things. Those things have been going on in a very mainstream way for a very, very long time here. What's far more radical is to actually get beyond those entrapments as a society. Who knows? Maybe in this next decade we'll see decent people who rise to the forefront and change some things.
--Reported by Alex Smith