When I got the news alert that Beastie Boys' co-founder Adam "MCA" Yauch had lost his battle with cancer, I didn't know how to immediately react. While he was diagnosed with cancer over 3 years ago, I always believed that Yauch would beat it. I soon realized that we'd lost a true pioneer, innovator, and legend not only in the hip-hop world but in all of music. I never met the man, but I'd be lying to you if I didn't say that his group, NYC's Beastie Boys, didn't impact my life. It was 1998's Hello Nasty that helped an awkward middle school Drew find some inner confidence and the ability to laugh at one's self. That album begun the obsession, as I delved into their back catalog and made immediate connections to such classics as Licensed to Ill and Paul's Boutique. Those album had a certain danger to them, an immediate swagger that I found so appealing as I went into my high school years. I felt like I was progressing as a person at the same time that MCA, Mike D, and Ad-Rock were growing as musicians as well as people. It was a long six years between Hello Nasty and the release of their classic To The 5 Boroughs, which presented the Beastie's as hip-hop's elder statesmen. MCA's deep raspy flow was as good as ever, as the trio balanced their witty lyrics with pointed commentary on the current situations in our country.
There was no doubt that Yauch was the most talented member of the group. Mike D and Ad-Rock played off his raspy rhymes perfectly, as he set both emcees up perfectly. He never took the spotlight of the group however, focusing his efforts on film, directing, and humanitarian efforts with the Tibet Freedom Program as well as other post-9/11 efforts in NYC. His film production and distribution company Oscilloscope Laboratories has become a major player in the independent film scene, distributing acclaimed films such as Oren Moverman's The Messenger, Kelly Reichardt's Wendy and Lucy, Banksy's Exit Through The Gift Shop, and many others. Yauch wanted to entertain but also educate. The man who once fought for our rights to party had dedicated part of his life to fight for the rights to speak out and have the same civil rights as every one else. Rest in peace MCA and thank you for impacting the lives of people everywhere, no matter how big or small.