RIP Adam Yauch: Beastie Boys' MCA Dead at 47

BBoys Kozik may4.jpg
Poster by Frank Kozik
Well, damn.

Adam Yauch, the gravel-voiced third of Noo Yawk '80s and '90s rap-rock superstars the Beastie Boys, has died at age 47, Rolling Stone reports. The exact circumstances of his death were unknown at press time, but Yauch had been battling cancer since being diagnosed with a tumor in his salivary glands in 2009.

As the first group to bring rap and hip-hop to a largely white, suburban audience, the Beasties' influence on the past 30 years of popular music cannot be overstated. Their breakthrough 1986 album, Licensed to Ill, combined heavy sampling of classic-rock groups like Led Zeppelin (which later got them into hot water) with sophomoric humor and the Boys' irresistible, sometimes inscrutable Brooklyn slang.

With estimated sales around the nine or ten million mark, it is the most successful debut album of all time and the most successful album in the history of its label, Def Jam.

paulsboutique may4.jpg
As they matured, the Beasties tried to distance themselves from Ill's frat-boy image and somehow became even more influential. Produced by the Dust Brothers, Ill's 1989 follow-up Paul's Boutique was a madcap collage of samples and references from old-school rap, '70s cinema (Car Wash, High Plains Drifter, The Harder They Come), and obscure soul and funk; anything from bong hits to Deliverance's Eric Weissberg playing the banjo.

Although it undersold at the time, Boutique was directly responsible for the stardom of roots-savvy hip-hop troubadors such as Beck and G. Love and made the Dust Brothers one of the most in-demand producers of the '90s.

Thanks in part to the stricter sampling and fair-use laws Paul's Boutique helped bring about, the Beasties eased up on the sampling and largely played their own instruments on their next two records, Check Your Head (1992) and Ill Communication (1994). By then the Beastie Boys had completely overhauled their image into the wisecracking, lovable hipsters next door, and those albums spawned such hit singles as "So Whatcha Want," "Sabotage" and "Sure Shot."

Although they never lost the old Brooklyn pass-the-mike vibe, later albums such as like 1998's Hello Nasty and last year's Hot Sauce Committee Pt. 2 were heavily influenced by electronic groups like Daft Punk. Early on, some rappers were skeptical about the group's skills (and jealous of their success), but the Beastie Boys became among Generation X's most revered artists. Everybody under 45 better be blasting "Fight for Your Right to Party," "Shadrach" or "Intergalactic" right now.



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18 comments
Bilbo T. Baggins
Bilbo T. Baggins

ummmm, I believe the label on the first photo on page 3 is waaaaaaay off.

Dustin Kalman
Dustin Kalman

I'm still mad I didn't go to that Unicorn show but the Sam Houston Coliseum show was amazing. Especially as I escaped past security to get to the floor. I think it was also Ricky Powell's birthday too, they did bring cake on stage. 

I would love to buy one of those Kozik posters from the Coliseum show. I can't find one anymore. If you know where some are, let me know.

control freak
control freak

glad you gave Paul's Boutique the credit it deserves. they never topped that LP. no one has. RIP MCA

KING
KING

Yo. Peep @cosmobaker Twitter timeline right now. Some great stories.

Smedley
Smedley

I've had Gratitude on repeat for a bit... man... I've always loved his bass on that track.

Travis Frey
Travis Frey

95 was the last show in Houston and I was there, what a great time!

Tabmgmt
Tabmgmt

And the Beastie Boys played the Unicorn Ballroom in 1991, with House of Pain. I promoted the Unicorn and Sam Houston Coliseum shows in 1992 (and managed Frank Kozik, who did the poster). The Sam Houston Coliseum was Mike D's birthday and he told me to set up a birthday party for him after the show. I took the Beasties and about 15 friends to Mai's after the show. One of the waitresses recognized the Beastie Boys and called her son, who got all his friends together and waited outside of Mai's at 3am and when the Beastie Boys went out the front door, there were 20+ Vietnamese kids, all dressed up in their best hip hop gear, singing Beastie Boys songs. The Beastie Boys were amazed, actually blown away, as they did not see the kids outside waiting. Mike D asked one of the kids if he went to the concert and he said he did not know they were playing in Houston, so Mike D told me that i dropped the ball and did not properly market the show to the Vietnamese community (he was joking, as the show was a huge success). Great times, great friends. Oh yea, and then they wrote a big story about the Mai's adventure in their Grand Royal Magazine and send me a bunch of copies. This is very sad. Adam was my friend. I worked with him often in the 1990s. Last time i saw him was at a party in Hollywood and he introduced me to Drew Barrymore. Rest in Peace my friend.

H_e_x
H_e_x

What a terrible loss. He was battling for his life for many years.

Bobby Freshpants
Bobby Freshpants

I'm tearing up in the office! Terrible news. RIP Yauch aka MCA aka Nathanial Hornblower.

Jef With One F
Jef With One F

"My heart has joined the Thousand, for my friend stopped running today."-Richard Adams

Dustin Kalman
Dustin Kalman

It is for sure. Though I imagine that is the way it was printed by some idiot who didn't properly proof them.

Tally Isham
Tally Isham

I was at that 5/6/95 Ill Communication show at the Summit. I was graduating from high school, I was with all my best friends, and it was my birthday. I remember the quadrophonic sound system, the giant disco ball, a poster of the sexual zodiac on stage, and everyone in the house freaking out to each song. I hope to always remember the Beastie Boys that way.

Dustin Kalman
Dustin Kalman

I'm still mad I didn't go to that Unicorn show but the Sam Houston Coliseum show was amazing. Especially as I escaped past security to get to the floor. I think it was also Ricky Powell's birthday too, they did bring cake on stage. 

I would love to buy one of those Kozik posters from the Coliseum show. I can't find one anymore. If you know where some are, let me know.

ShitThrowingMonkey
ShitThrowingMonkey

 I was at the Coliseum show, made a roadie with friends from Austin.  Good times.  Great band.  RIP MCA.

BTW they also played Lollapalooza in 1994.  I forget exactly where the show was, it was not Houston exactly, Baytown maybe?  But close enough.  They should have headlined that year, Smashing Pumpkins was such a letdown after the B-boys.

Rocks Off
Rocks Off

Thanks Tom. Adding that to the copy.

Tally Isham
Tally Isham

I was at Lollapalooza that year -- it was #4 in the series, in 1994. I remember it being at a raceway outside of the city, and a Google search turns up Houston Raceway Park. I almost got trampled in the crowd earlier that day, so I was hanging back at the outer edge when the Beastie Boys played -- they were the second-to-last act, I think. And I remember Smashing Pumpkins playing last, and Billy Corgan saying to the crowd, "You can throw all the shoes you want, we're not going to stop playing!" I was listening to this from the parking lot by that point, because really, who wants Smashing Pumpkins after the Beastie Boys, the band that almost everyone was there to see and waited the whole day for them to play? Oh, and I almost forgot the Tibetan monks Adam Yauch had brought along on the tour, blasting their amazing, giant horns on stage. It was a very special day!

ShitThrowingMonkey
ShitThrowingMonkey

 Def Baytown -- Thanks for commenting, the crowd was super-pumped after the Beastie Boys owned it, not sure anyone could have followed them at the time.

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