Once heralded as the Led Zeppelin of Hip-Hop thanks to their experimental and pioneering endeavours, the Beastie Boys have been rocked by the news that founder member and video supremo Adam ‘MCA’ Yauch has died aged 47.
Yauch was diagnosed with a cancerous parotid gland in 2009 which was treated with radiation and thought to have been cured. As yet the cause of his death is unknown but some reports are linking it to a recurrence of the cancer.
Many may have lost touch with the Beastie Boys after their first album, “Licensed to Ill” and smash single, “Fight For Your Right (to Party)” left the mainstream charts but since then they have crossed so many genres and connected so many friends that they rightfully deserve their place in the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame.
The grey haired, gruff throated MCA was instrumental in the band’s formation when he and Mike ‘D’ Diamond got together for a musical thrash. They were soon joined by the perennial voice breaking Adam ‘Adrock’ Horowitz and from that moment they moved from their deeply entrenched punk roots into a world of Hip-Hop/Punk/Rock/Soul fusion.
Paul’s Boutique; their second album, was a work of art and by the time Check Yer Head arrived MCA and co had picked up their respective instruments and were creating their own chilled out vibes, hip-hip based loops and mad-punk-thrash tunes which appealed to a wide ranging audience.
Later came ‘Ill Communication’ which saw the Beastie Boys move back towards grass roots Hip-Hop with guest appearances from Tribe Called Quest’s Q-Tip on the titular track; that album truly setting them apart from any other artists in their many genres.
Throughout their career the band always had great videos to accompany their singles and it was largely thanks to MCA who directed under the pseudonym “Nathanial Hornblower”. Their sense of humour was evident in all things, from music to screen and they were a little of something to all people.
The excellent video to “Intergalactic” saw MCA, Adrock and Mike D assume the roles of scientists inside a giant robot’s head as it took on a Godzilla type creature in a fight to the death. It was quality entertainment on all levels and not one to be missed.
The music world has so much to thank the Beastie Boys for and the loss of MCA is indeed a tragedy on so many levels. From their exploits in music, on screen and even the sadly failed Grand Royale label they have inspired new generations, helped build bridges between musical genres and dissolved borders where once animosity prevailed.
R.I.P Adam ‘MCA’ Yauch, thank you for your legacy.
Images: mixmag.net, groovement.co.uk, dose.ca