Adam "MCA" Yauch was the heart and soul of the Beastie Boys. The rapper/bassist/producer was a founding member of the punk rock band that would morph into hip-hop hitmakers, and his death in 2012 after a battle with cancer shocked rap fans everywhere. The Beastie Boys had played a major role in hip-hop expanding into the mainstream in the 1980s, and they also were major figures in 90s rap innovation.
At the center of it all was MCA, whose distinctively gravelly voice and laid-back demeanor helped counter his more manic bandmates Ad-Rock and Mike D. In remembrance of MCA on the five year anniversary of his passing, here are five of his most iconic moments with and without the Beastie Boys.
In 1994, the MTV VMAs handed the Best Director interview to R.E.M.'s "Everybody Hurts." But when the band took the stage to accept the award, things rapidly went a little nuts when a weird guy named Nathaniel Hornblower, with a phony accent and thick glasses, took the mic and began to rant about how this was "a farce," he was from Switzerland and he "had all the ideas for Star Wars and everything." It was later revealed that Nathaniel was none other than MCA.
MCA Blasts Racism at the VMAs
At the 1998 VMAs, the Beastie Boys took home the Video Vanguard award for over a decade of eye-catching visuals dominating MTV. During his acceptance speech, MCA took the opportunity to address racism and Islamophobia at a time when most of MTV's audience wasn't discussing the issue.
"Sabotage" at the 1994 MTV VMAs
In the 1990s, the Beastie Boys' reputation as visionaries and creative mavericks was solidified with their fourth album, Ill Communication. And that album spawned the hit single "Sabotage," which the Boys performed at the 1994 VMAs.
Hip-Hop Celebrates MCA Day
Chuck D opened up about the impact of the Beastie Boys and his relationship with the late MCA. And hip-hop legends Doug E. Fresh, Monie Love, Rakim and DMC all share their thoughts on the legacy of the Beasties and MCA in recognition of the anniversary of his death.
MCA Announces He Has Cancer
Fans were stunned in 2009, when Ad Rock and MCA appeared in a YouTube video, explaining that all Beastie business was being put on hold because of MCA's cancer diagnosis. While chuckling uncomfortably, the friends tried to assuage fears. It's a bittersweet moment of bravery from MCA, who let the world in as he was about to start the fight of his life.