Adam Yauch

Adam Yauch
Yauch in 2007
Yauch in 2007
Background information
Birth nameAdam Nathaniel Yauch
Also known as
  • MC Adam
  • MCA
  • Nathanial Hörnblowér
  • Bloach
  • Abednego
Born(1964-08-05)August 5, 1964
Brooklyn, New York City, New York, U.S.
DiedMay 4, 2012(2012-05-04) (aged 47)
New York City, New York, U.S.[1]
  • Musician
  • rapper
  • songwriter
  • director
  • film distributor
  • Vocals
  • bass guitar
  • upright bass
  • keyboard
Years active1979–2012
Associated actsBeastie Boys

Adam Nathaniel Yauch (pronounced /jk/; August 5, 1964 – May 4, 2012), better known under the stage name MCA,[2] was an American rapper, bass player, filmmaker and a founding member of the hip hop group Beastie Boys.

Yauch founded Oscilloscope Laboratories, an independent film production and distribution company based in New York City. As a Buddhist, he was involved in the and organized the Tibetan Freedom Concert.[3] He died in 2012 from parotid cancer.[1]

Early life and education

Born in Brooklyn, New York City, Yauch was an only child. His father was an architect, and his mother was a social worker.[4][5][6][7] Yauch's mother was Jewish, and his father Catholic but he had a non-religious upbringing[5] in Brooklyn Heights, Brooklyn.[8]

Yauch attended Edward R. Murrow High School in Brooklyn's Midwood neighborhood. In high school, he taught himself to play the bass guitar[9] and formed Beastie Boys with John Berry, Kate Schellenbach, and Michael Diamond.[10] They played their first show—while still a hardcore punk band in the vein of Reagan Youth—on his 17th birthday. He attended Bard College for two years before dropping out.[11]

Beastie Boys

Yauch (center) with the Beastie Boys in 2009

Beastie Boys, a hip-hop trio, released their first album Licensed to Ill on Def Jam Records when Yauch was 22. He directed many of Beastie Boys' music videos, often under the pseudonym Nathaniel Hörnblowér.[11][12]

In 2002, Yauch constructed a recording studio in New York City called Oscilloscope Laboratories. He began an independent film distributing company called Oscilloscope Pictures.[13] He directed the 2006 Beastie Boys concert film, Awesome; I Fuckin' Shot That!, although in the DVD extras for the film, the title character in "A Day in the Life of Nathanial Hörnblowér" is played by David Cross.

Beastie Boys had sold 40 million records worldwide by 2010.[11] In April 2012, the group was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Yauch was inducted in absentia due to his illness.[9] His bandmates paid tribute to him; a letter from Yauch was read to the audience.[14]

In 2011, Yauch received the Charles Flint Kellogg Award in Arts and Letters from Bard College, the college he attended for two years. The award is "given in recognition of a significant contribution to the American artistic or literary heritage".[15]

Other independent work

He directed the 2008 film Gunnin' For That #1 Spot about eight high school basketball prospects at the Boost Mobile Elite 24 Hoops Classic at Rucker Park in Harlem, New York City. Yauch produced Build a Nation, the comeback album from hardcore/punk band Bad Brains. In addition, Oscilloscope Laboratories also distributed Kelly Reichardt's Wendy and Lucy (2008) and Oren Moverman's The Messenger (2009).[16]

Personal life and views

Yauch in 2007

Yauch was a practicing Buddhist.[17] He became an important voice in the ,[3][18] creating the Milarepa Fund, a nonprofit organization devoted to Tibetan independence and organized several benefit concerts to support the cause, including the Tibetan Freedom Concert.[9][16][19]

In the 1994 Beastie Boys single "Sure Shot", he rapped the verse: "I want to say a little something that’s long overdue / The disrespect to women has to got to be through / To all the mothers and sisters and the wives and friends / I want to offer my love and respect till the end".[20]

In 1995, while attending a speech by the at Harvard University, he met his wife, Tibetan American Dechen Wangdu. They married in 1998 and had a daughter, Tenzin Losel, the same year.[9][21][22]

In 1998, during the MTV Video Music Awards, when receiving the Video Vanguard Award, Yauch condemned America's wars in Muslim countries and prejudice against Muslims and Arabs. Artist Cihan Kaan wrote an obituary in Al Jazeera that Yauch was "Muslim Americans' hero, and America's personal Jewish Gandhi", judging his plea to be greater for intercultural healing than the music of later anti-war rappers whose lyrics included anti-Americanism and conspiracy theories.[23]

Illness, death and legacy

Yauch in 2006

In 2009, Yauch was diagnosed with a cancerous parotid gland and lymph node. He underwent surgery and radiation therapy, delaying the release of Hot Sauce Committee Part Two and the subsequent tour.[24][25] He was unable to appear in music videos for the album. Yauch became a vegan on the recommendation of his doctors.[26] At the time, Yauch described the cancer as "very treatable".[27]

Yauch died at age 47 on May 4, 2012.[1] Upon his death, fellow musicians and artists paid tribute. Russell Simmons of Def Jam Records said that Yauch "was incredibly sweet and the most sensitive artist, whom I loved dearly". Ben Stiller tweeted that Yauch "stood for integrity as an artist".[11] Jeff Ament of Pearl Jam said that Yauch was "a crazy talent whose contributions with his band were inspirational and consistently ground breaking".[28] Radiohead frontman Thom Yorke wrote: "We looked up to the Beastie Boys a lot when we were starting out and how they maintained artistic control making wicked records but still were on a major label and the Tibetan Freedom Concerts they organized had a very big influence on me personally and the way Adam conducted himself and dealt with it all impressed me a lot. He was a mellow and [very] smart guy. May he rest in peace."[29] Eminem said in an interview, "Adam Yauch brought a lot of positivity into the world and I think it's obvious to anyone how big of an influence the Beastie Boys were on me and so many others."[30] Three days after Yauch's death, bandmate Adam "Ad-Rock" Horovitz posted a note on the Beastie Boys' Tumblr page about it, acknowledging the pain of losing Yauch and his admiration for him.[31]

In his last will and testament, Yauch left instructions that his music could not be used in advertising, though the legal validity of such an instruction has been questioned.[32]

Phish dedicated their cover of "Sabotage" to Yauch during a July 7, 2012 concert at the Saratoga Performing Arts Center.[33] On May 3, 2013, ceremonies were held to rename the Palmetto Playground in Brooklyn Heights to Adam Yauch Park.[8]


with Beastie Boys


  1. ^ a b c "Beastie Boys Co-Founder Adam Yauch Dead at 47". Rolling Stone. May 4, 2012. Retrieved May 4, 2012.
  2. ^ "Adam Yauch: Why MCA Was The Renaissance Man Of Hip-Hop". u discovermusic. August 5, 2019. Retrieved September 11, 2019.
  3. ^ a b Goldberg, Eleanor (May 4, 2012). "Adam Yauch Of Beastie Boys Remembered For Tibetan Activism, Freedom Concerts". The Huffington Post.
  4. ^ "Adam Yauch Dies at 47; Beastie Boy Became Advocate for Tibet", The Washington Post, May 4, 2012, archived from the original on May 8, 2012, retrieved May 6, 2012
  5. ^ a b Anthony DeCurtis (May 28, 1998). "Adam Yauch on His Spiritual Journey: 'I Don't Care If Somebody Makes Fun of Me'". Rolling Stone. Retrieved May 5, 2012.
  6. ^ O'Malley Greenburg, Zack (May 4, 2012). "Adam 'MCA' Yauch And The Beastie Boys: Hip-Hop Pioneers". Forbes. Retrieved May 7, 2012.
  7. ^ A. Greenberg, Brad (May 4, 2012). "Beastie Boys' Adam Yauch, Jewish legend and hip-hop pioneer, has died". Jewish Journal. Archived from the original on November 19, 2016. Retrieved May 7, 2012.
  8. ^ a b "Brooklyn playground named after Beastie Boys' Adam Yauch NME May 1, 2013". Nme.com. May 1, 2013. Retrieved December 4, 2013.
  9. ^ a b c d Gray, Madison (May 4, 2012). "Adam Yauch, MCA of the Beastie Boys, Dies After Cancer Complications". Time.com. Retrieved May 4, 2012.
  10. ^ "Beastie Boys' Adam Yauch dies at age 47". USAToday.com. May 4, 2012. Retrieved May 5, 2012.
  11. ^ a b c d Coyle, Jake (May 2, 2008). "Adam Yauch of the Beastie Boys dies at 47". Boston.com. Retrieved May 4, 2012.
  12. ^ "Nathanial Hornblower bio". oscilloscope.net.
  13. ^ Ryzik, Melena (September 8, 2008). "Offstage, a Beastie Boy Enters the World of Independent Film". The New York Times. Retrieved May 4, 2012.
  14. ^ "Yauch misses Hall of Fame ceremony". London Free Press. Archived from the original on May 8, 2012. Retrieved May 4, 2012.
  15. ^ "Academics – Bard College Catalogue". Bard College. Retrieved May 4, 2012.
  16. ^ a b Rafer Guzman. "Beastie Boys rapper Adam Yauch dead at 47". Newsday.com. Retrieved May 4, 2012.
  17. ^ Van Biema, David; McDowell, Jeanne (October 13, 1997). "Buddhism in America". Time Magazine.
  18. ^ "FRONTLINE:Online Interview with Adam Yauch". Frontline.
  19. ^ "Tibet supporter Yauch of Beastie Boys fights with cancer". www.phayul.com. July 21, 2009. Retrieved May 4, 2012.
  20. ^ Valenti, Jessica (May 8, 2012). "MCA's Feminist Legacy". ISSN 0027-8378. Retrieved June 3, 2019.
  21. ^ Seltzer, Sarah (May 4, 2012). "Adam Yauch, Feminist Ally - Sisterhood". The Forward. Retrieved November 10, 2015.
  22. ^ Tibet Sun: "The union between Adam Yauch and Dechen Wangdu: a look back" from the International Business Times May 5, 2012
  23. ^ Kaan, Cihan (May 9, 2012). "Adam Yauch was a Muslim hero". Al Jazeera. Retrieved April 18, 2016.
  24. ^ Thomson, Katherine (July 20, 2009). "Beastie Boy Adam Yauch has 'very treatable.' cancer". Huffington Post. Associated Press. Archived from the original on March 26, 2012. Retrieved January 11, 2012.
  25. ^ Yauch Announcement on YouTube
  26. ^ "Beastie Boy 'hopeful' over cancer". BBC News. October 8, 2009.
  27. ^ "The Associated Press: Adam Yauch of the Beastie Boys dies at 47". Google.com. Retrieved May 4, 2012.
  28. ^ "MCA RIP". Pearl Jam. May 4, 2012. Retrieved May 4, 2012.
  29. ^ "Dot Connectors". Radiohead. May 5, 2012. Archived from the original on May 8, 2012. Retrieved May 5, 2012.
  30. ^ Vena, Jocelyn (May 4, 2012). "Eminem Pays Tribute To Adam Yauch's 'Influence'". MTV. Retrieved May 6, 2012.
  31. ^ Kaufman, Gil (May 7, 2012). "Beastie Boys' Ad-Rock Pays Tribute To Adam Yauch". MTV. Retrieved May 7, 2012.
  32. ^ Goffe, Wendy (August 13, 2012). "Yauch's Will, Banning Use Of Music In Ads, May Not Be Valid". Forbes. Retrieved August 13, 2012.
  33. ^ "Jul 07, 2012 Setlist - Phish.net". phish.net. Retrieved March 25, 2018.

External links


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