I was really saddened to hear today that Adam Yauch, better known as MCA of the Beastie Boys, has lost his fight with cancer. I’ve long been a fan, and I’m old enough to remember the exhilarating rush of the bratty, adolescent, punky white-boy hip hop on their controversial 1986 debut album Licensed To Ill – all the boys in my class at school secretly coveted the VW badge chains the Beasties wore in their videos!
Most critics saw the early Beasties as a bit of a joke, but after the release of their astonishing and hugely influential second album Paul’s Boutique in 1989, a fair few of those critics were forced to eat their words.
And since then, the Beasties haven’t stopped creating amazing, era-defining music – I DJ’d for a while at uni in the mid 1990s, and vividly recall the chaotic dancefloor reaction every time I dropped ‘Sabotage’, the massive lead-off single from the 1994 album Ill Communication…
And it wasn’t just the music. MCA, who was a practicing Buddhist, and the other Beasties took a principled and cultured approach to what they did, involving themselves in activism for social justice causes as well as creative projects including film production and distribution.
After a life like that, it is sad to think that a man who inspired so many, who produced some of the most memorable and groundbreaking music of the last 25 years, and who tried to live his life as he believed to be right should die at the stupidly young age of 47, leaving his wife and daughter behind.
He fought for his right to party – and inspired several generations in the process. That’s a pretty cool legacy.
RIP MCA – you will not be forgotten.