Beastie Boys' Adam "MCA" Yauch, Rapper and Progressive Activist, Dead at 47
Adam "MCA" Yauch, founding member of pioneering rap trio the Beastie Boys, passed away Friday after battling throat cancer. The Brooklyn-born rapper and producer was 47. The Beastie Boys were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame earlier this year, but Yauch accepted his award in absentia, owing to his illness. The other members, Mike D and Adam "Ad-Rock" Horovitz, accepted his award for him. The Beasties have released an obituary for MCA at their website, writing that he's survived by his wife, activist Dechen Wangdu, his daughter, and his parents.
Yauch was a practicing Buddhist, and was largely responsible for the plight of Tibet becoming part of American pop culture in the 1990s. In 1996, along with the other Beastie Boys, Yauch organized the Tibetan Freedom Concerts, which ran until 2003; over that time, Yauch helped raise over $2 million for the cause of Tibetan independence, and sparked the international organization Students for a Free Tibet. Additionally, via the Beastie Boys' website:
In the wake of September 11, 2001, Milarepa organized New Yorkers Against Violence, a benefit headlined by Beastie Boys at New York's Hammerstein Ballroom, with net proceeds disbursed to the New York Women's Foundation Disaster Relief Fund and the New York Association for New Americans (NYANA) September 11th Fund for New Americans–each chosen for their efforts on behalf of 9/11 victims least likely to receive help from other sources.
The Beastie Boys emerged in 1979 as a teenage punk band running around Manhattan and raising hell, but by 1984 they had transitioned into hip-hop. Initially signed to Def Jam Records in its early, legendary stages, the Beasties have released eight full albums since then, including the groundbreaking License to Ill and Paul's Boutique. In recent years, MCA opened Oscilloscope, a recording studio, through which he not only produced albums but distributed films. He directed many of the Beasties' videos, and in 2008 released Gunnin for that #1 Spot, a documentary about high school basketball champs.
In "Sure Shot," one of the Beastie's biggest songs, MCA rapped, "I wanna say a little something that's long overdue/ This disrespect to women has got to be through/ To all the mothers and the sisters and the wives and friends/ I want to offer my love and respect to the end." Back at ya, MCA. Rest in peace.