Before MCA’s untimely death to cancer, the Beastie Boys were one of the longest-lived and successful groups in hip-hop history, scoring numerous number 1 albums and winning a plethora of awards in their time. The tragedy is to me that they weren’t cultural dinosaurs or relics of a bygone era whose relevance was long since forgotten: the band was as strong as they ever were. Last year’s Hot Sauce Committee Part 2 hit number 2 in the charts and earned a Grammy nomination: part 1 is still to be released. From humble beginnings more than 30 years ago as a (fairly terrible) hardcore punk band, they made the wise decision to switch to hip-hop and took the world over with their endlessly inventive production and witty lines. This week would seem to spell the end of 30 years of a remarkably consistent musical career, and like I said, it’s not like the band were fading into obscurity. MCA was only 47 at the time of his death; the other boys Ad-Rock and Mike D being 45 and 46 respectively, and I for one imagined they had another few albums left in them. Even on a personal level there is no less tragedy: the band’s first live show was on the late Yauch’s 17th birthday. To have been together for such a long time, bonding at such a young age, to have grown up together from cheeky frat boys to professional world-beaters must make the loss of their friend so much more difficult for the surviving pair.
You might only know the Beastie Boys for their parody song: “(You Gotta) Fight For Your Right (To Party!)” frankly that’s fine. Their contribution to music was so much more than that, but even this lone song in their discography shows how influential they were on a generation of MTV metalheads, on the crossover between hip-hop and metal and so forth. Their success in the 80’s lent credibility to the genre, paving the way for new generations of rappers to emerge and influencing a whole host of others including Eminem and Nas. Their continued success in both critical and commercial circles is a testament to their artistic integrity, and the loss of Adam “MCA” Yauch is frankly the worst possible news for any fan of the group.
MCA, best known for his gruffy voice and 80’s biker look, will be sorely missed. As well as his rapping and producing in the group, he was also known for directing some of the groups’ best-known videos, including “Intergalactic,” “Ch-Check It Out” and the recent, star-studded, 30 minute “Fight For Your Right Revisited.” His death aged 47 after a 3-year battle with cancer is a sore professional and personal tragedy, with both his parents, wife and child surviving him. The world has lost an influential musician and a great man. Rest in beats, MCA.
Words – Adam.