Adam Yauch, founding member of the Beastie Boys, dies at 47
The Beastie Boys' Adam Yauch, best known the world over as the thoughtful, witty, in-your-face rapper MCA, has died, according to Rolling Stone and the hip-hop website Global Grind, which is run by Russell Simmons. Yauch, who had been battling cancer for the last three years, was part of a trio of New York rappers whose music starting in the 1980s transformed the budding genre and helped take hip-hop nationwide.
[Updated May 4, 11:40 a.m.: A Beastie Boys representative confirmed that Yauch "passed away in his native New York City this morning after a near-three-year battle with cancer."]
Yauch, who was 47, achieved fame with the Beastie Boys, but as their fame grew he directed his energy toward his lifelong passion: Buddhism and Tibetan independence. While he and his fellow Beastie Boys Mike Diamond (Mike D) and Adam Horovitz (Ad-Rock) continued to transform rap music through classics like "Paul's Boutique," "Check Your Head" and "Ill Communication," Yauch helped tether the group with his rhymes about peace, enlightenment and other topics far removed from the party-rap of the Beastie Boys' early music.
Yauch also helped form the successful production company Oscilloscope Pictures, which released acclaimed films such as "Wendy and Lucy," "Burma VJ" and "We Need to Talk About Kevin." The Tibetan Freedom Concerts, which between 1996 and 2003 helped raise money for Tibetan independence, were the product of his work with the Milarepa Fund, a nonprofit advocacy group.
Last month the Beastie Boys were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, where members Ad-Rock and Mike D accepted the award; MCA was unable to make it.
Pop & Hiss will continue to provide information as it arrives.
-- Randall Roberts
Photo: Adam Yauch in 2008. Credit: Jennifer S. Altman / For The Times