Celebrating the life and music of Beastie Boys Adam Yauch (MCA) on what would've been his 58th birthday
Today is my daughter's birthday. When she was born, I googled "people born on August 5th" and to my delight, Adam Yauch, (better known as MCA) of a band I grew up loving and still do to this day, Beastie Boys came up.
These fun coincidences are the little things in life that make me smile.
Adam Yauch was born on August 5th, 1964. He would have been 58 years old today had it not been for cancer cutting his life short at just 47. His legacy as an artist is monumental but he was a father and husband also and that has to be the biggest loss.
Forming in 1981, after a few early lineup changes, the band consisted of Mike D (Michael Diamond), King Ad-Rock (Adam Horovitz), and MCA (the aforementioned Adam Yauch) as a New York hardcore punk band. A few years later they transitioned to rap, but never truly abandoned their punk rock roots, and the rest, as they say, is history.
With the release of the band's debut album in 1986, Licensed to Ill (Def Jam & Columbia), Beastie Boys set out on a journey that would see many peaks and valleys over the next three decades. Originally thought of as a frat-boy joke band, the three musicians from New York soon moved on from that deserved reputation and started to release music that displayed groundbreaking artistry. This transformation earned them the respect of some of rap's biggest names such as Run-DMC and Public Enemy while also influencing dozens of future musicians in all different genres like Eminem, Rage Against The Machine, and Sublime.
In 2012, Beastie Boys were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. In 2020, Spin Magazine ranked the band 12th in their Most Influential Artists of the Last 35 Years list.
Adam Yauch was not only the gravel-voiced MC of the band, but he was the musical and artistic leader as well. The visual and sonic inspiration (which evolved with each release) came at the direction of Yauch. Each member of the band played a huge role in their success, but simply put, without MCA, Beastie Boys as we've come to know them, would not exist.
Aside from the music, Yauch was a humanitarian. He may have started his career in a juvenile fashion but he didn't hide from that. He admitted that he, and the band, had said some things and acted in ways that weren't in line with who they truly were as men and as human beings. They were playing a role (but that's not an excuse) but it wasn't the image that they should have portrayed.
As Adam Yauch consistently took the Beastie Boys to new heights with their music, he was also vitally important to several causes, most notably the Tibetan Independence Movement. He started the Milarepa Fund, a nonprofit organization devoted to Tibetan independence, and organized several benefit concerts to support the cause, including the Tibetan Freedom Concert.
Today, Adam Yauch is remembered through his music but also in the hearts and minds of his fans. The largest celebration of his life comes from the group, MCA DAY.
MCA Day is a free, Brooklyn-based fan-organized event intended to provide a space to honor and celebrate the life, music, and legacy of Adam Yauch.
From the organization's Facebook page:
"MCA DAY seeks to celebrate Yauch and the Beasties’ constant evolution and innovation, and also to look forward with hope at what their contributions have inspired.
The MCA Day planning committee is made up of fans dedicated to honoring Yauch and the Beasties by spreading Gratitude. Join us!"
It's rare that an artist can have such an impact after he's left us, but Adam Yauch was one of those rare artists whose impact only seems to grow. Happy birthday Adam!