He was the most mature and coolest Beastie Boy. The Rap world lost a true auteur and pioneer in Adam “MCA” Yauch, who died on Friday, May 4, at age 47 from complications due to cancer. A Brooklyn native and practicing Buddhist, he lived in New York City with his wife and daughter.
Only recently inducted into the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame, the Beastie Boys first burst onto the music scene with 1986′s “Licensed to Ill,” which sold more than 5 million albums, making it the biggest selling Rap album of the 1980s. The Beasties were rappers, but they were a lot more, and always had been.
Rhyming ‘n’ Stealing
They started out playing loud, abrasive Punk Rock and Thrash. Yauch first played bass with Michael Diamond on drums (“Mike D.”) and was later joined by Adam Horovitz on guitar (“King Ad-Rock”). Through a combination of New York street smarts, a remarkable sense of Rap and Hip-Hop, as well as extensive Rock ‘n’ Roll chops, the band was able to blaze through a succession of cutting-edge 90s albums that were rocking as well as rapping, funny as hell but also capable of keen human insight.
The Beasties will forever be known for albums such as “Check Your Head,” “Ill Communication,” “Hot Sauce Committee Part Two,” and “Paul’s Boutique,” the latter a genuine production masterpiece and an album that has been hailed as “the ‘Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band’ of Rap.
Beyond his musical accomplishments, Yauch was a genuine humanitarian and human rights activist. He organized concert benefits for the liberation of Tibet and personally worked alongside the Dalai Lama. He also had an offbeat and mischievous sense of humor, such as the time he heckled the lead singer of R.E.M. during an awards show (while wearing an Austrian goat herder’s outfit).
Paying Tribute to the Rap Genius
Yauch (who also used the stage name of Nathanial Hörnblowér) and his humor was on full display in such production masterpieces as the music video for “Sabotage,” which is now recognized as one of the landmark music videos of all time. There has been no statement on the future of the Beastie Boys, although it’s difficult at this moment to imagine the band continuing on as before. Yauch was that vital to the sound.
We recently saluted the group and paid tribute to the top Beastie Boys tracks ever. Join us as we journey through 25 years of unbridled artistic creativity. That a band this good has sold more than 40 million albums is a tribute to the collective genius of its members.
Rappers and Rock ‘n’ Rollers alike mourn the passing of this great artist and agent of cool, including Coldplay, which recently gave this touching tribute to Adam Yauch at the Hollywood Bowl on May 4th:
Thank you, MCA. You and your fellow bandmates taught us how to “Fight for Our Right to Party” and liberate our musical thinking. Adam Yauch…the mighty and majestic MCA…will be missed.
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