On the road today and there's only one thing in my earphones: The Beastie Boys.
Why? One of the Beastie Boys, Adam Yauch (aka MCA) is dead of cancer at 47. More from Rolling Stone:
"Adam Yauch, one-third of the pioneering hip-hop group the Beastie Boys, has died at the age of 47, Rolling Stone has learned. Yauch, also known as MCA, had been in treatment for cancer since 2009. The rapper was diagnosed in 2009 after discovering a tumor in his salivary gland.
Yauch co-founded the Beastie Boys with Mike "Mike D" Diamond and Adam "Ad-Rock" Horovitz in 1979. The band started off as a hardcore punk group, but soon began experimenting with hip-hop. The band broke huge with their first proper album, Licensed to Ill, in 1986; it was the biggest-selling rap album of the decade and the first to reach Number One on the Billboard chart. Further albums Paul's Boutique, Check Your Head and Ill Communication cemented the Beasties as a true superstar act.
In addition to his career with the Beastie Boys, Yauch was heavily involved in the movement to free Tibet. A founder of the Milarepa Fund, Yauch was instrumental in the first Tibetan Freedom Concert in San Francisco's Golden Gate Park 1996, which drew 100,000 people – the largest U.S. benefit concert since 1985's Live Aid. After 9/11, Yauch and the Beastie Boys organized New Yorkers Against Violence, a concert benefit for some of the victims least likely to receive help from elsewhere. Yauch also directed many of the Beastie Boys' music videos under the pseudonym Nathaniel Hornblower. In 2002, he launched the film production company Oscilloscope Laboratories."
For the casual observer, pausing to write a post on a member of the Beastie Boys might seem a little light. But the Beasties have always refused to let what they did previously define them - a sign of a true high performer is that they continually redefine themselves. Wouldn't it have been easy to just try and milk "You Gotta Fight For Your Right to Party" for 20 years? Of course it would have been easier.
But - the Beasties always changed their game, and Yauch was a huge part of that with the video side of the Beasties. They went away from hardcore punk early and did rock rap. Paul's Boutique is largely cited as an opus of sampling before legalities rendered that path unobtainable. Then they went back to rock with cuts like Sabatoge, playing their own instruments, etc. They toured with acts as diverse as Run-DMC, Madonna and Rage Against the Machine - a sure sign of broad influence. They became political with their last CD - To The Five Boroughs - making even a moderate GOP member like me listen to a call to shift to the left. I could say more, look it up if you are interested. Adam Yauch was a Linchpin that transcended rap. You couldn't stereotype him.
My birthday was this weekend. MCA was a few years older than me and he's dead. No drugs, no Hollywood crash and burn. Cancer. Damn.
Get busy living or get busy dying.
RIP Adam Yauch.