You know those really crappy days when a piece of new just hits you hard in the bottom of your stomach, and you can only say “Fuck”, and just tune out the rest of the world to deal with it? Today is one of those days. Adam Yauch, better known as MCA from the Beastie Boys, has passed away after losing the battle with cancer, which he was diagnosed with in 2009. Fuck.
This is one of those celebrity deaths that really hits close to home, you know? And that just speaks volumes about the type of man MCA was, both on and off stage, and how incredibly influential he’s been musically with the Beastie Boys; a band he formed for his 17th birthday party after teaching himself how to play bass, and that would go on to have the first hip-hop album to hit #1 on the Billboard 200 and just last month get inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.
1986′s “Licensed to Ill”, 89′s “Paul’s Boutique”, 92′s “Check Your Head”, 94′s “Ill Communication”, 98′s “Hello Nasty”. Just listen to those records. This guy was a true genius, a visionary, an artist, and one who helped propell hip-hop, and music in general, to a whole new direction. You just have to look at Twitter to check out the huge variety of people that have been influenced by what this guy has done.
He was also a pretty stand-up guy. Being a practicing Buddhist, he bcame a founder of the Milarepa Foundation, a non-profit organization that raised awareness about the injustices in Tibet. As well as organizing New Yorkers Against Violence just after 9/111, a benefit with proceeds going to the victims of the terrorist attack which were least likely to receive help; and then further paying tribute to their beloved city with 2004′s “To the 5 Boroughs”.
Music wasn’t the only thing the man did so well, and with such a passion. He also founded Oscilloscope Laboratories in 2002 to nurture his talents as a filmmaker, which can be seen in the many videos for the Beastie Boys which he directed, and that helped distribute films ranging from Yauch’s own directorial debut, the basketball documentary “Gunnin’ For That #1 Spot”, to hugely acclaimed films like “Wendy And Lucy”, “Exit Through The Gift Shop” and “We Need To Talk About Kevin” as well as the upcoming LCD Soundsystem concert documentary, “Shut Up And Play The Hits”.
What else can I say? This man was a true genius. The kind that don’t really come around all that often. And the kind that will surely live on in the minds and hearts of generations to come because of how expansive his influences have been and how indellible a mark he’s left in the world. And this time that’s no hyperbole.
Before I spend the rest of my day listening to the Beastie’s, I want to share a couple of things. Firstly, one of the many great tweets about Yauch’s passing, that came from fellow director Kevin Smith and that really sums up what many of us are feeling right now:
RIP Adam Yauch. You made my teenage years more fun and your art made it easier for me to do what I do. For a Beastie, you sure were a beaut.
— KevinSmith (@ThatKevinSmith) May 4, 2012
And secondly, a few of his songs so you can listen along with us: