As most of you will already know, two weeks ago the world lost a talented and much-loved man. Adam Yauch, popularly known as MCA, a rapper from the Beastie Boys, died after a three year battle with cancer. His death was unexpected and sent shockwaves through the music industry and fans alike. At the age of 47, Adam Yauch has a left a legacy in hip-hop, the entire music industry, and the world of film. His unique, evolving style and unfaltering integrity throughout his career was a shining light that other famous musicians aspired to.
A single child born in Brooklyn, New York, Adam learnt to play the electric guitar while at Edward R. Murrow High School, and soon formed a hardcore punk band called the Beastie Boys with Michael Diamond, Kate Schellenbach, and John Berry. Their first gig was on his 17th birthday, but soon the band broke up. Adam and Michael, with the addition of Adam Horovitz, changed the Beastie Boys into a hip-hop trio, and by the time Adam was 22 the Beastie Boys, aka MCA, Mike D, and Ad-Rock, had released their first album, Licensed to Ill.
Anyone who has the slightest interest in music will know full well how successful the Beastie boys have been over the years, and the amount of awesome music they have graced our ears with. Just last year they released their eighth studio album, 25 years after they released their first. Adam’s voice resonated throughout their illustrious career, his deep and raspy vocal sound fitted perfectly with his upbeat and sometimes satirical lyrics. Adam thought a lot about what he rapped about, and never lost his integrity as himself and the Beastie Boys rose to fame. Even after he had all the cars, clothes, and platinum cards he ever dreamed of, Adam kept his feet firmly on the ground let the fame get to his head.
Beginning with one of the Beastie Boys best known tracks, and the song that still gets dance floors jumping to this day, ‘(You Gotta) Fight For Your Right (To Party)’ never fails to get a party pumping. Advocating some of the less finer things in life, like beer, pornography, and general raucous behaviour, this track will never get old.
In their track ‘Sure Shot’ from their 1994 album ‘Ill Communication’ the emphasis on beer, parties and girls has changed somewhat, and soon their lyrics changed to reflect the band member’s different outlook on life. In one line rapped by Adam, he says “I want to say a little something that’s long overdue, the disrespect to women has got to be through. To all the mothers and the sisters and the wives and friends, I wanna offer my love and respect till the end.” As their music matured, MCA, Mike D, and Ad-Rock expressed their new outlooks through their rapping, and drew in many more fans.
Not just about the music
The thing is, even though Adam is best known for his place in seminal rock-rap group the Beastie Boys, he was involved in much more than the music business. Working with charities and producing films were just two of the other activities he busied himself with. Adam converted to Buddhism at the beginning of the 1990s, and became heavily involved in the Tibetan Independence Movement. He even created the Milarepa Fund, a not-for-profit organisation that helped to raise money and awareness for the Tibetan Independence Movement, and held a number of charity concerts including the Tibetan Freedom Concert.
Adam also tried his hand at film directing and producing. He directed a number of the Beastie Boys music videos under the pseudonym Nathaniel Hornblower, including ‘So What’cha Want’ in 1992 and ‘Intergalactic’ in 1998. By 2002 he co-founded an independent film production and distribution company, Oscilloscope Laboratories, and was heavily involved in some the films they released. He directed the 2006 Beastie Boys concert film ‘Awesome; I Fuckin’ Shot That!’ and a basketball documentary in 2008 called ‘Gunnin’ for That #1 Spot.’
Tributes and messages have poured out since news of Adam’s death was released. Eminem said that, “Adam Yauch brought a lot of positivity into the world, and I think it’s obvious to anyone how big of an influence the Beastie Boys were on me.” Fellow Beastie Boy Mike Diamond wrote, “The world is in need of many more like him. We love you Adam.” There is no doubt that Adam will be sorely missed by people across the world.
Adam ‘MCA’ Yauch; 1964 – 2012