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Adam "MCA" Yauch: 1964-2012

May 4, 2012  |  1:12pm
Adam "MCA" Yauch: 1964-2012

UPDATE: Beastie Boys released a statement through their website, which you can read below.

Adam Yauch, better known as MCA of the legendary and influential rap trio Beastie Boys has died at the age of 47, Rolling Stone reports. The Associated Press later stated that Yauch’s mentor Russell Simmons confirmed the death. The rapper was diagnosed with cancer in 2009 after a tumor was discovered on his salivary gland.

The trio’s album Hot Sauce Committee Part One was scheduled for release in the same year of his diagnosis and was indefinitely delayed before being cancelled completely. The follow up, Part Two, was released in 2011 and spawned four singles including the hit “Make Some Noise.”

Since the diagnosis, Beastie Boys have not performed live and Yauch was absent from the group’s induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame last April. He had been undergoing treatment, which included Tibetan practices.

The rapper had been heavily involved in the movement to free Tibet and helped found the Tibetan Freedom Concerts in the 1990s. In addition to being a founding member of the group, Yauch directed several of their music videos under the Nathaniel Hornblower moniker, as well as last year’s Fight For Your Right Revisted short film.

It is currently unconfirmed, but is most likely, that he succumbed to his battle with cancer after nearly three years.

Adam “Ad-Rock” Horowitz and Mike “Mike-D” Diamond released a statement today.

Statement posted on Beastie Boys’ website
It is with great sadness that we confirm that musician, rapper, activist and director Adam “MCA” Yauch, founding member of Beastie Boys and also of the Milarepa Foundation that produced the Tibetan Freedom Concert benefits, and film production and distribution company Oscilloscope Laboratories, passed away in his native New York City this morning after a near-three-year battle with cancer. He was 47 years old.

Born in Brooklyn, New York, Yauch taught himself to play bass in high school, forming a band for his 17th birthday party that would later become known the world over as Beastie Boys.

With fellow members Michael “Mike D” Diamond and Adam “Adrock” Horovitz, Beastie Boys would go on to sell over 40 million records, release four #1 albums-including the first hip hop album ever to top the Billboard 200, the band’s 1986 debut full length, Licensed To Ill-win three Grammys, and the MTV Video Vanguard Lifetime Achievement award. Last month Beastie Boys were inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, with Diamond and Horovitz reading an acceptance speech on behalf of Yauch, who was unable to attend.

In addition to his hand in creating such historic Beastie Boys albums as Paul’s Boutique, Check Your Head, Ill Communication, Hello Nasty and more, Yauch was a founder of the Milarepa Fund, a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting awareness and activism regarding the injustices perpetrated on native Tibetans by Chinese occupational government and military forces. In 1996, Milarepa produced the first Tibetan Freedom Concert in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park, which was attended by 100,000 people, making it the biggest benefit concert on U.S. soil since 1985’s Live Aid. The Tibetan Freedom Concert series would continue to stage some of the most significant benefit shows in the world for nearly a decade following in New York City, Washington DC, Tokyo, Sydney, Amsterdam, Taipei and other cities.

In the wake of September 11, 2001, Milarepa organized New Yorkers Against Violence, a benefit headlined by Beastie Boys at New York’s Hammerstein Ballroom, with net proceeds disbursed to the New York Women’s Foundation Disaster Relief Fund and the New York Association for New Americans (NYANA) September 11th Fund for New Americans-each chosen for their efforts on behalf of 9/11 victims least likely to receive help from other sources.

Under the alias of Nathanial Hörnblowér, Yauch directed iconic Beastie Boys videos including “So Whatcha Want,” “Intergalactic,” “Body Movin” and “Ch-Check It Out.” Under his own name, Yauch directed last year’s Fight For Your Right Revisited, an extended video for “Make Some Noise” from Beastie Boys’ Hot Sauce Committee Part Two, starring Elijah Wood, Danny McBride and Seth Rogen as the 1986 Beastie Boys, making their way through a half hour of cameo-studded misadventures before squaring off against Jack Black, Will Ferrell and John C. Reilly as Beastie Boys of the future.

Yauch’s passion and talent for filmmaking led to his founding of Oscilloscope Laboratories, which in 2008 released his directorial film debut, the basketball documentary Gunnin’ For That #1 Spot and has since become a major force in independent video distribution, amassing a catalogue of such acclaimed titles as Kelly Reichardt’s Wendy and Lucy, Oren Moverman’s The Messenger, Banksy’s Exit Through The Gift Shop, Lance Bangs and Spike Jonze’s Tell Them Anything You Want: A Portrait Of Maurice Sendak, and many more.

Yauch is survived by his wife Dechen and his daughter Tenzin Losel, as well as his parents Frances and Noel Yauch.

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