In Memoriam: Adam “MCA” Yauch

Adam Yauch’s passing is a real tragedy. Who else can seamlessly stop a riveting show to quote Gandhi? Regarding the death penalty, the man known as MCA said, “An eye for an eye just makes the whole world blind.” The fact remains that Adam Yauch turned the world into a far better place than how he found it. Through his music, he not only entertained, but he erased racial tensions, campaigned to liberate a nation, and did it all with a smile on his face and composed, well-assured demeanor.

A peripheral fan might have just pegged the trio from Brooklyn as those guys sitting on a couch, swelling beer and yelling at their mom for their right to party, but the Beastie Boys’ experimentation and values make them New York’s answer to The Clash.

My first Beastie Boys show was the Mumia Abu-Jamal Benefit that they played with the likeminded Rage Against The Machine. I was nothing less than blown away by the sheer magic created by Ad-Rock, Mike D and MCA. Anyone could tell that this wasn’t just a performance for the Beastie Boys—this was their destiny being played out onstage for all to embrace. Their symmetry, boundlessness and passion can’t be replicated. A few years later, I saw them in Florida, a night before the MTV Video Awards. Their mastery and connection to their audience was even greater fortified. It truly saddens me to think that the world will never see that chemistry and talent again.

Adam Yauch knows, “there is no other worthy quest.” Mission accomplished brave and kind soul, rest in peace and thank you for the mixology, mentoring, and mesmerizing basslines. Your gifts will be received by many generations to come.

—B Girl 4ever, Cathy Campagna

In 1979, the Beastie Boys formed as a hardcore punk band. In fact, they were pretty much at the forefront of New York hardcore, playing alongside bands like Bad Brains, Reagan Youth, and the Dead Kennedys. I found them decades later—a cassette left behind by a friend’s older brother when he moved out for college—when I was just discovering rock ‘n’ roll and the punk sound that would eventually shape my life and love of music. I got to keep the cassette, as they were absolutely not my friend’s cup of tea, and I played it often on the sound system in my room. At school, I would take advantage of the library and media center, looking up music news and bands I’d heard of on the radio or MTV.

One day, instead of researching some kind of volcano crap for a science class, I read up on the Beastie Boys, who were no longer playing punk rock, but hip-hop. My heart sank to my stomach—I thought, “Oh no, they sold out!” I was reading great reviews on their albums, but even then I was immensely skeptical of the opinions of Top 40 music critics. I followed a link and the slow, public-ed computer froze just as “Girls” was starting to play…loud. And I was in love. Again. “TURN. THAT. OFF. NOW!!!!!!!!!!!!!” the teacher shrieked, and when I couldn’t, I got detention for disrupting class and misusing educational school resources. And later on that day, I served the best detention I’ve ever had, with a student teacher who also loved the Beastie Boys. Everyone loved them, and everyone will continue to love them because they were constantly and consistently relevant, poignant, and direct. The death of a beast does not omit all the havoc and frenzy he caused while he was still fuckin’ around and fuckin’ shit up—Adam “MCA” Yauch, thank you. For everything you’ve done for music, for the world, for me and my right to party. May you rap in peace, may you rest in beats. Lay your head down in Brooklyn, and take that well-deserved nap.

—Dani Tauber

On May 4, 2012, one of the most influential artists of the early ‘80s unfortunately left this unpredictable world. Adam Yauch passed away at the age of 47 from cancer. The very next day, another incredible person in my life passed away from the same cause. That person was my dear grandfather, Mendel Sachs. A few days later, I began my travels to Buffalo, NY, to console my family and begin my own grieving process. Upon this seven-hour drive from NJ to Buffalo, I was granted the opportunity to reflect upon these recent losses. As I was driving up Rt. 81, I started to ponder upon my first introduction to MCA and the rest of his hip-hop trio, the Beastie Boys. At that point, one of the most phenomenal memories occurred to me. At a young age, my introduction to any form of music was from me either begging my sister to let me listen to her CDs, or stealing them when she wasn’t looking.

As kids, my parents would drive us up to Buffalo every summer to visit and stay with our grandparents for a few weeks. The time must have been somewhere around the early-to-mid-90’s. In order to cure my boredom, as usual, after begging my sister long enough, she let me choose one of her discs to listen to and I chose one with a picture of an airplane on it because I thought it looked cool. What I had chosen was the 1986 debut album from the Beastie Boys, Licensed To Ill. All I could remember from the album was this eerie sounding song, “Girls,” that seemed both whacky and comforting at the same time. Music had very little importance to me at the time, for I must have been around the age of 10. Regardless of the lack of knowledge at the time, taking a drive to Buffalo as a child and blasting that whacky song into my ears will always be a fond memory of mine. While driving to Buffalo the other day at the age of 23, I got the chance to reflect on this memory and its association with a visit to my dear old grandpa. The joyous thoughts and memories of my grandfather will forever be in the back of my mind every time I hear that song, and for this I must say thank you to Adam Yauch. It is because of these reflections that I can feel rest assured that MCA and my grandfather are in a better place now, where they can have the illest of Seders together. Until we meet again, rest in peace Adam Yauch and Mendel Sachs.

—Jonny Cohn

I must admit; I’m not someone that started listening to the Beastie Boys from the moment I exited the womb. Rather, the journey of me becoming a fan and admirer of the trio was a lengthy process that extended throughout my entire young life, and is still growing to this day.

Although I have an older sister that helped shape my musical tastes and inspirations, she gravitated more towards rock, grunge and jam bands, rather than alternative hip-hop—leading me astray from the wealth of inspiring artists and forward-thinkers in the scene. However, I have distinct memories of first seeing the videos for “Sabotage” and “(You Gotta) Fight For Your Right (To Party!)” on MTV—yes, MTV was still playing music videos at the time—and amateur karaoke enthusiasts performing the tracks on the defunct show, Say What? Karaoke. I was hooked.

From then on, I not only had a severe fascination with the Beastie Boys, but also the utmost respect for them. Between their tongue-in-cheek humor and clever witticisms, to their fearless usage of samples, MCA, Mike D and Ad-Rock represented all that was unique and cutting-edge about hip-hop. As I grew into a music management and business minor in college, Beastie Boys would become one of the headlining subjects in debates and discussions over sampling, reaffirming their stance as innovators in the music world.

The death of Adam Yauch undeniably was tragic. Fans and appreciators will no longer have the chance to see Beastie Boys in their prime—together, as a trio of friends and brothers. With that, I’m sure it will take a while for this gaping hole in the music world to heal.

Although Yauch’s passing took place far too soon, it has brought the music community closer together and has taught us to appreciate the idols we have, and most important, the art and influence they have given us.

—Alicia Fiorletta