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It's been 32 years since the Beastie Boys were founded, but the band's fan base is as strong as ever. And although no one can replace the now-defunct band, Chicago fans can pay tribute to Mike D, MCA and Ad-Rock thanks to their female counterparts in She's Crafty, an all all-female Beastie Boys tribute band.
"We're bringing other peoples' memories of music alive and sharing it and having a good time," said Amy Sumpter, 35, of Lakeview. "I love that. People just get so excited about an all-female Beastie Boys tribute band."
The members of the group, Amy Sumpter (MCAmy), Maggie Jenkins (MagRock), Kendra Stevens (Ken D) and DJ Sara Tea agree that the Beastie Boys have given every kind of audience a "safe place in hip-hop," which is one of the reasons why they are huge fans.
"I think people love the Beastie Boys so much because it was like as a woman or as a gay person or Jewish person or whatever you were, the music created a place you could go to listen to hip-hop and not worry about what they were saying or how it made you feel about yourself," said Stevens, 37, of Rogers Park.
The four women, who met through stand-up comedy, share a love for the Beastie Boys and decided to start She's Crafty a week after Beastie Boys frontman Adam "MCA" Yauch passed away in May 2012.
"It's amazing that this man died, and it effected so many people and left a hole in so many people's hearts," said Sumpter, a school photographer and bartender. "So, now we're coming together on the anniversary of his death and we're going to celebrate his life."
She's Crafty is putting on fundraiser show, MCA Day Chicago, to commemorate the life of Yauch on Saturday at Underground Wonder Bar. All proceeds go to two charities: Gilda's Club Chicago and the Gromada Head and Neck Cancer Foundation.
"The reason why we want to do this is to put good out in the world. That's our whole goal for this show, it's not about us," Stevens said. "It's about creating a community where people can come together and like check your hate at the door and just have a good time and raise money for these charities."
Being all all-female group doesn't faze She's Crafty, although the members admit that most people who come to their shows are skeptical at first.
"People don't know what to think when a woman walks up to the microphone and when she gets up on stage near equipment, and I think once we do what we do, it's obvious that we're legitimate," said Tea, 34, a Lakeview resident who moved to Chicago from L.A. about a year ago.
The group practices in Jenkins' basement once a week and studies each song by looking up the lyrics and references while making sure to get all the rhythms right.
"One of the hardest things for us has been doing our designated parts," said Jenkins, 32 of Logan Square, who does public relations for the Teamsters Union. "We've been listening to the Beasties for so long that we know all three parts, but now we only do one. It takes some adjustment."
But, they haven't let any difficulties stop them from rocking every and any venue. Their first performance was at a coffeeshop.
"We bought these Adidas jumpsuits online and didn't realize they were lined with velour. They were the hottest things in the world. Dancing around in Adidas tracksuits with velour on the inside in a coffee shop. Yeah, we got pretty sweaty," Sumpter said.
Sweaty or not, Jenkins said she's doing exactly what she's imagined doing for a long time.
"Just getting together with three of your best friends and rapping to the Beastie Boys is so much fun. If you could talk to 12-year-old Maggie and tell her that she is rapping now, like that's what she is doing in life, she would be super psyched," said Jenkins, who said she has been rapping to the Beastie Boys in her shower and in her car for as long as she can remember.
The Prosecco-loving band's goal is to play at musical festivals while continuing to make audiences fall in love with the Beasties all over again.
"When stuff like this happens, that's when you go like, wow, this is something," Jenkins said. "We're doing something, it's happening."
Gina Chinino is a RedEye special contributor.
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