Rapper Adam “MCA” Yauch of the Beasties Boys passed away at 47 Friday from cancer in his salivary gland.
The MC was a practicing Buddhist and humanitarian. Yauch organized benefit shows around the world for the Tibetan independence movement. MCA was also a music producer for the Bad Brains comeback album Build a Nation in 2007, as well as a film director and founder of Oscilloscope Laboratories, a film distribution company. Through his short career he was able to touch many artists and fans on a number of mediums before his untimely death.
Yauch and the Beastie Boys started off as a Bad Brains rip-off band in 1979 before morphing into the hip-hop trio they are known as today. The Beastie Boys went on to sell more than 40 million albums in their career, spanning from 1986’s Licensed to Ill to last year’s Hot Sauce Committee Part 2. But music was not MCA’s only triumph.
The Beastie Boys’ music was not just a banter of rhymes and odd references over funky beats, they were anthems engraved in the souls of fans spanning three decades. The group’s soupy mixture of punk, rock, metal, funk, electro and bossa nova jazz solidified their spot as one of the best and most unique hip-hop groups in the genre’s history.
“My condolences to Adam’s family, The Beastie Boys, their team, and their millions of fans… we must preserve his legacy by continuing to represent the culture he loved so much,” LL Cool J said.
Sympathy from celebrities has followed the passing of Yauch.
“Crushed to hear the news of Adam Yauch’s passing,” tweeted Justin Timberlake, with the hash tag #RIPMCA. “A true pioneer of art.”
“Adam Yauch brought a lot of positivity into the world… Adam will be sorely missed,” Eminem said.
Yauch’s Buddhist faith adheres to reincarnation after death. One thing that is certain is that Yauch’s soul lives on in the hearts of his family, friends, and each and every one of his fans, myself included. He is a true musical icon that will be missed and remembered forever.
As a 13-year-old I got a chance to see the Beastie Boys live at the 11th annual KROQ Weenie Roast. During their set, the three rappers had the entire venue at their feet from the pit all the way to the back of the lawn.
Seeing the Beastie Boys at such a young age was a pivotal experience that will stick with me the rest of my life. It was a show that changed the way I thought about music. The group broke down the barriers of genre and race that artists typically adhere to and gave me the musical confidence to express myself as I saw fit. It saddens me to see such an influential musician in my life pass at such an early age.
At this past weekend’s KROQ Weenie Roast, sentiment for the late MC was high. Artists took the stage wearing Beastie Boys shirts and dedicating songs to the late rapper. All this on the very stage I witnessed MCA, Mike D, Adrock and Mix Master Mike perform just 8 years ago.
Yauch is survived by his wife, Dechen Wangdu and daughter, Tenzin Losel.