Hip Hop CHRONICles: Adam Yauch Was A Genius
Our Hip Hop CHRONICles series focuses on personal experiences as lifelong hip-hop heads. These are brief articles that talk about things like the time I attended the 1993 Soul Assassins concert. In today’s piece, we spend a few words talking about Adam Yauch (MCA) and his creative genius.
Nathaniel Hornblower (MCA) – The Legendary Beastie Boy Dies
The only time I saw the Beastie Boys live was the 1994 Lollapalooza at a closed Air Force base in Quonset, Rhode Island. The crowd was estimated at upwards of 100,000 people. The lineup also included George Clinton, A Tribe Called Quest, The Smashing Pumpkins, to name a few. Unfortunately, the original headliner was Nirvana. This would have made things extra epic had tragedy not struck the band in April.
The Beasties reigned supreme that night. Right before sundown, the three excess stormed the stage. The sea of people was sent into a frenzy. Crowd surfing. Bottle throwing. Half-mile-wide mosh pits. It was bananas. Then it was over. Or was it?
Curtain call lasted at least 10 minutes, and then out of nowhere, Adam Yauch’s genius bass riff triggered the beginning of the group’s hit Sabotage. Utter chaos. The Smashing Pumpkins were relegated to performing on a pile of smoldering rubble as the headliner that night.
The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Ceremony
Located downtown Cleveland, Ohio, United States, on the shore of Lake Erie, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame (RRHOF) is a museum and hall of fame dedicated to rock music. A museum that documents the history of rock music and the artists, producers, engineers, and other notable figures who have contributed to its development.
On April 20, 1983, Ahmet Ertegun, founder, and chairman of Atlantic Records, founded the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Foundation. The Hall of Fame chose Cleveland as its permanent home in 1986 after a long search for the right city. The new museum was designed by I. M. Pei and dedicated on September 1, 1995.
Yauch was honored at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame ceremony on HBO weeks after the ceremony, which included the induction of the Beasties. On top of that, rockers such as Linkin Park, Anthrax, Fred Durst, David Draiman, P.O.D., Randy Blythe, Papa Roach, Tommy Lee, Nonpoint, and Godsmack offered their condolences.
Adam Yauch Park
One day before the one-year anniversary of Yauch’s death, a public ceremony was held in Brooklyn Heights to rename Palmetto Playground as Adam Yauch Park. The Brooklyn Heights playground is named for Adam Yauch, an artist, a filmmaker, an activist, and a music icon. The lead singer of the legendary Beastie Boys, Adam Yauch first visited the Palmetto Playground as a child, when it was called State Street Park. Many of Yauch and his family’s fondest memories were made in this park, including his father teaching him to ride a bicycle. Later, he founded the Beastie Boys with Adam ‘Ad-Rock’ Horovitz and Mike ‘Mike D’ Diamond, founded the Milarepa Fund to benefit Tibetans, and started a film production company called Oscilloscope Laboratories.
Yauch spent a lot of time playing on the playground as a child. Horovitz, who was present at the dedication, said, “I and Adam were hanging out around Brooklyn late one night and we ended up in this park. He told me how he used to play in the park. I think he’d like it a lot!”.
Beastie Boy Adam’s Career
The videos Yauch directed for the Beastie Boys included “So Whatcha Want,” “Intergalactic,” “Body Movin” and “Ch-Check It Out.” He used the alias Nathaniel Hörnblowér for these videos.
In 2010, Yauch directed a video under his own name for “Make Some Noise” from Beastie Boys’ Hot Sauce Committee Part Two, Fight For Your Right Revisited.
His passion and talent for film led him to found Oscilloscope Laboratories, which released his first film as a director, Gunnin’ For That #1 Spot, in 2008 and has grown into one of the largest independent video distributors today.
I never met MCA. I don’t know him personally. However, I always had immense respect for his ability to push the limits. Nathaniel Hornblower’s rant-filled interruption of REM accepting an MTV Video Music Award still makes me laugh to this day. I often wonder if he was the driving force of the band’s transformation in the Check Your Head era?
I collected everything Beasties in the 1990s. Books, Grand Royal magazines, X-Large t-shirts, bootlegs, records, you name it. In a time before E-Bay, this was a challenge. I even had homemade Beastie Boys’ shirts – it was like that.
I’ve yet to watch the Beastie Boys Story on Apple TV. I ferociously read the Beasties Boy Book in a day. That book is amazing, but admittedly it is missing something. As culturally defining as Mike D and Ad-Rock are they can’t create the Yauch magic.
MCA and his ability to think beyond the status quo and understand the bigger picture is what I will always admire. One example is his passion for freeing Tibet. This passion introduced so many to the political and cultural struggles they might not have otherwise known. So now on May 4, I wish I could be my Start Wars nerd-self and greet everyone with a glee-filled, “May the 4th be with you”. Since 2012 though, I usually spend some time remembering the genius of Adam Yauch instead.
How did Adam Yauch (MCA) die?
Adam Yauch’s salivary cancer killed him. According to Rolling Stone magazine, Adam Yauch, 47, best known as MCA and a founding member of the Beastie Boys rap group, died on 4 May 2012 after a three-year battle with salivary cancer.
When Yauch was diagnosed, he said the cancer was localized and hadn’t affected his voice. The American Cancer Society reports that the type of salivary cancer Yauch had was extremely rare, with just two adults diagnosed with it every year. It is most common in people 55 or older, and doctors are unsure of what causes it, though traditional factors such as smoking and drinking are not thought to raise the risk.
It was good news then that cancer had not spread to other areas, since survival rates are affected by whether the disease has spread. If surgeons are unable to remove cancer completely from the gland, it can spread to the lungs and other organs. According to the American Cancer Society, 91 percent of those who do not spread it will survive five years, but if it spreads to distant glands and is a “Stage 4” case, 41 percent will survive five years.
Yauch underwent surgery to remove the tumor and began radiation therapy, which forced the Beastie Boys to cancel their summer tours, including appearances at the All Points West Festival and Lollapalooza and also delayed the release of their album Hot Sauce Committee: Part One. The album was released in May 2011 with a slightly altered tracklist under the title Hot Sauce Committee Part Two.
Adam Yauch’s Family
Nathaniel Hornblower’s family consists of Dechen Wangdu (wife), Noel Yauch (father), Frances Yauch (mother), and Tenzin Yauch (daughter).
Dechen Wangdu – Wife
During a speech by the Dalai Lama at Harvard University in 1995, Adam Yauch met his wife, Tibetan American Dechen Wangdu. In 1998, they married and had a daughter, Tenzin Losel
The daughter of well-known Tibetan activists, Dechen Wangdu was a prominent Tibetan. Participating in several campaigns for the Tibetan people has been beneficial for this cause. Adam Yauch, a rapper and bass player, is her husband. He co-founded the hip-hop group Beastie Boys. A series of Tibetan free Tibet concerts presented by the Milarepa Fund raised awareness about China’s control of Tibet. Adam Yachten Wangdu’s wife is a Tibet activist working with a nonprofit.
Tibetan Freedom Concert
In the Tibetan independence movement, Adam Yauch was an important voice. He also organized several benefit concerts, including the Tibetan Freedom Concert, to support the cause of Tibetan independence.
In addition to inviting the Beastie Boys to play Lollapalooza, Perry Farrell performed at the Beastie Boys’ Tibetan Freedom Concert. Farrell offered, “He was a good guy, and that’s what kind of strikes a really bad chord. There was a really nice guy who tried to help people, and he was all about being innocent and wild, and even immature if that’s what you wanted. He was so integral to our party vernacular — our musical vernacular
She was never allowed to attend the UN-wide female conference in China due to her involvement in advocacy.
Noel Yauch – Father
He died on January 29, 2017, at the age of 86. He was an American painter, artist, and architect. Noel Yauch is the father of Adam Yauch, aka MCA of the Beastie Boys.
Tenzin Losel Yauch – Daughter
Before her husband’s death, Wangdu conceived and gave birth to a beautiful girl. Their daughter named Tenzin Losel Yauch was born on 30 September 1998.
In his will, Adam leaves his entire estate (worth an estimated $6.4 million) to a trust, the terms of which are private. However, his public will indicates he and Dechen disagreed over who would raise their children in the event of their deaths, such as in a car accident. (Tenzin Losel was born in 1998.) Ideally, couples should select the same person to act as guardians in each will. Planning is often delayed by disagreements.
Frances Yauch – Mother
Peace out y’all. Be good to each other. #RIPMCA