Words cannot express the sorrow I am feeling about the death of Adam Yauch, who lost his battle to cancer today. The Beasties were like the cool older brothers I never had, and the news about his passing hit me like it truly was someone from my own family.
"It is with great sadness that we confirm that musician, rapper,
activist and director Adam 'MCA' Yauch, founding member of Beastie Boys
and also of the Milarepa Foundation that produced the Tibetan Freedom
Concert benefits, and film production and distribution company
Oscilloscope Laboratories, passed away in his native New York City this
morning after a near-three-year battle with cancer," reads an official
statement from the Beastie Boys on their website. "He was 47 years old."
Perhaps more so than his blood brothers Mike D and Ad Rock, MCA left a profound effect on me beyond his indelible mic skills and musicianship. He was a peaceful man of unshakable faith and conviction to what he believed in, and the closest thing hip-hop has ever had to George Harrison.
I was blessed to have met him, albeit only briefly, at the 1998 Tibetan Freedom Concert in Washington DC while I was on assignment for SPIN.com, and very lucky to say I have stood before the Beasties in concert no less than eight times in my life.
Whether he was cracking us up with his hilarious video direction, amazing us with his on-point rhyme science, killing us with his skills on the electric bass, inspiring us to dig deeper into the bins of our local record shop, making us think with his poignant documentaries or inciting us to speak out against human injustice as a crusader of peace and resolution, Adam Yauch has been an exemplary model for youth culture since helping form the Beastie Boys in 1979. And his influence will live on so long as kids are discovering the work he left for us to learn from and enjoy.
Rest in peace, Mr. Yauch. I am sure the great Buddha saw that you passed into the next life in the atmosphere of peace and harmony you deserved for all the great things you did in this mortal coil. -Ed.
"I Don't Know" from Hello Nasty:
"Bodhisattva Vow" (Live 1994)
"I Don't Need You" from the unreleased 1987 Brooklyn sessions featuring MCA, Ad-Rock, Dr. Know of Bad Brains and Doug Beans of Murphy's Law on drums:
"Flying High" from Brooklyn:
Nathaniel Hornblower bumrush at the 1994 MTV Video Music Awards: