In 2012, we lost one of hip-hop’s seminal rappers that proved you could be a white MC in a black-dominated genre: Adam Yauch, otherwise known as MCA. Born in Brooklyn, New York, Yauch would grow up to teach himself bass guitar, a tool that would prove essential to forming the legendary Beastie Boys. Before that, he would first help create The Young Aborigines which consisted of fellow Beastie Boy Michael “Mike D” Diamond, and two other members who would later leave in the early 80’s, John Berry and Kate Schellenback.
The Aborigines officially changed their name in 1980, and in 1982, with the departure of Berry, added Adam “Ad-Rock” Horovitz on as the new guitarist. Schellenback left shortly after the release of the groups first experimental rap single, “Cooky Puss,” the success of which caused the group to continue making hip-hop music. The group eventually hired a young Rick Rubin as their DJ, who shortly thereafter founded Def Jam.
MCA accomplished a great deal aside from the Beastie Boys during his lifetime. A devout supporter of Tibet’s fight for independence, Yauch started the Milarepa Fund which aims to assist Tibet in achieving independence. He also organized multiple benefit concerts for the cause. Both of these acts of activism are most likely based upon the fact that MCA was also a practicing Buddhist. His activism didn’t stop there, as he was also a steady supporter of gender equality as well as equality for the LGBTQ community.
Yauch also opened his own recording studio in 2002 under the name Oscilloscope Laboratories, which was followed shortly by Oscilloscope Pictures, his film studio. Yauch is credited with directing many of the Beastie Boys’ music videos under the alias Nathanial Hörnblowér, such as this classic. He has also directed a concert film for the group along with a few other various projects. In April of 2012, one month before his death, MCA and the Beastie Boys were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, a major accomplishment only achieved by two other hip-hop groups before them, Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five and Run-D.M.C. MCA went out with a bang and will be remembered for generations given what he accomplished in his lifetime. Alas, as is often the case, the good leave us too early. R.I.P. Adam “MCA” Yauch, your legacy shall not be forgotten.