Adam Yauch (aka MCA of the Beastie Boys) has died. He was 47. Forming the Beastie Boys as a teenager in Brooklyn in the late '70s, Yauch was part of a pivotal assembly of artists that defined rap music for the radio. Early incarnations of the group shifted genres and changed members, but Michael "Mike D" Diamond and Adam "Ad-Rock" Horowitz finalized the trio with Yauch in the early '80s, and stayed intact through more than three decades together.[jump]
Yauch's voice stood out from the shouts of his wise-guy counterparts; he was the calm in the Beastie's storm, a simultaneously smooth and gravelly purveyor of New York street knowledge. One of the first acts to sign to Def Jam -- and one of the Simmons/Rubin collaborations to do extremely well early on -- the group would eventually form its own label, Grand Royal, in the '90s, arguably the decade in which the Beasties shined the brightest.
From party rappers to Tibetan freedom fighters to feminists and cultural historians, the Beastie Boys mixed politics with art freely as they matured before the music world's eyes. Keeping themselves honest and relevant to fans, they rapped through endless tours, eight full-length albums -- 40 million selling, worldwide -- multiple Grammy nominations and wins, and last year, an induction into the Rock N' Roll Hall Of Fame (as the third rap act ever to do so.)
But that induction did not see the Beasties take the stage; since his 2009 diagnosis of cancer of the parotid gland and lymph node, MCA had been struggling to recover, and his band-brothers stood by him. Mike D and Ad-Rock put off tours, delayed the release of 2011's Hot Sauce Committee Part Two, and regretfully declined to perform at the Hall Of Fame this year without their counterpart.
Thankfully, MCA and the Beasties' positive cultural impact will live on through the group's massive catalog of music, videos, film, apparel, art and its own corner of New York City lore.
Page down to read the statement released by Nasty Little Man just a bit ago, along with a list of the Beastie Boys live dates in Denver.