We Remember Adam Yauch, MCA of Beastie Boys, Dead at 47

Categories: obit

Yauch, far left
By Daniel Kohn and Ned Raggett

First posted at 10:28 a.m.

Adam Yauch, better known as MCA of legendary hip-hop trio Beastie Boys, has died at 47.

For the past few years, Yauch has been battling cancer. News of his passing was reported less than an hour ago by TMZ.

Below, Ned Raggett remembers Yauch, one of hip-hop's most pivotal figures.

Twitter didn't explode upon the announcement of Adam Yauch's passing. Instead, there was one huge, all-encompassing exhalation and a resigned but loud "Fuck!" Yeah, it was obscene and a bit crass ... which is what made it absolutely appropriate for a Beastie Boy.

In the cascade of individual reactions and observations from all over -- musicians, writers, fans -- there's a generational reaction that's astonishing. At one point, the entire United States trend list was nothing but Beastie Boys' references or songtitles. Twitter isn't all of America, of course, but right then it felt like all of America, like a whole cadre of people -- not just of a certain age -- can't imagine life without all of them around. A Beastie Boy dead? Get outta here.

It's not just about the feeling of youth lost forever, the horribleness of cancer, the sense of being suckerpunched by fate. Yauch had been struggling with cancer for some time, and reports had indicated he was managing well enough, but in retrospect, his inability to attend the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction was a sign that things just weren't well. Still, as often is the case with sudden death, it's hard to believe.

Again, though, it's more than that. First, the Beasties themselves. English writer Joe Muggs said, "Licensed To Ill came out when I was 12 and bratty; Paul's Boutique when I was 15 & getting deeper into music -- perfectly timed." A followup comment to that went, "Then Check Your Head & Ill Communication said you could mix-n-match whatever the fuck YOU liked and call it an LP." A perfect summary of their impact. I remember watching the debut of "Hey Ladies" on MTV in 1989 and being amused with all the seventies references -- in retrospect, they were prescient about the retro focus that was going to come into vogue. The rest of their career started there.

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