Now, here’s a little story I’ve got to tell about one bad brother you know so well. This week marks the two year anniversary of the death of hip-hop icon Adam Yauch, otherwise known as MCA. As a member of Beastie Boys, MCA helped bridge the gap between punk rock and hip-hop, while defending our God-given right to party our asses off. And while his music was often aggressive and promoted kicking ass and drinking a whole bunch of liquor, the multitalented Yauch was actually a Buddhist and was associated with the Tibetan freedom movement.
Born in 1964 in Brooklyn, Yauch grew up in the center of the old-school rap movement of New York City. Having learned how to play bass, Yauch helped found The Young Aborigines, the hardcore punk precursor to Beastie Boys. After achieving moderate local success, the group began experimenting with the inclusion of hip-hop, releasing a 12-inch titled Cooky Puss. After a few personnel changes, The Young Aborigines became a trio, transitioning to becoming Beastie Boys, now officially a hip-hop group. However, their punk rock roots were never severed.
With hits like “Sabotage” and “Fight for Your Right”, Beastie Boys have enjoyed massive success, including being one of the longest-lasting hip-hop groups of all time, earning multiple platinum records, and being inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2012. However, MCA’s talents don’t stop at music. As a director of films and music videos, Yauch opened an independent film company called Oscilloscope Pictures, worked as an activist for Tibetan freedom as well as LGBT and feminist rights groups, and was a practicing Buddhist. In 2009, Yauch was diagnosed salivary gland cancer, delaying work on Beastie Boys’ final album, Hot Sauce Committee Part Two.
As an activist for human rights, Yauch retroactively apologized for and denounced some of his lyrics that he deemed reprehensible. While his artistic contributions to hip-hop continue to be recognized, his legacy as a truly kind-hearted individual continues to ring out today. Following his untimely death at age 47, an outcry of support and respect from artists across multiple genres proved his impact was greater than simply in music. But with that said, I suggest you put your left leg down, your right leg up, tilt your head back and finish the cup in his honor. RIP, MCA.