Here are some of my favorite comments about Adam “MCA” Yauch, of Beastie Boys, who died on Friday at 47 from cancer. Please share any other great ones in the comments below.
MCA was the best rapper in the Beastie Boys as well as the best instrumentalist, and he also directed some of their many brilliant videos. But he was never the “leader” in any way because this wasn’t a group that needed a leader. The Beastie Boys are ultimately a celebration of friendship. You find people you care about and who care about you, and you make a community with them. The Beasties, both as a group and as individuals, embodied this ideal.
- Mark Richardson, Pitchfork
But something happened to the Beasties, and New York. While we were off at college, the goofs had connected with the producer Rick Rubin. (Some Beasties momentarily attended college before deciding to drop out and accidentally change the world.) “Licensed to Ill” presented us with a can of question marks. When did they gain access to handguns? When did they start smoking angel dust? When did they start hitting girls? WHAT. (And you could just sample a Led Zeppelin record? That was O.K.?) When “Licensed to Ill” hit the world, at the end of 1986, it was like an April Fools’ joke that lasted a year. America apparently wanted to hear backward TR-808 drums and samples of Trouble Funk records. Or maybe they liked white kids rapping over loud guitars about partying. O.K.—hold on. Maybe it wasn’t a mystery. “Cooky Puss” was a joke for New York. “Licensed To Ill” was a joke for America. Or on America. It was hard to tell.
- Sasha Frere-Jones, The New Yorker
In a group of loud personalities, Yauch stood out. His lyrics, easily quotable (“I’m MCA—I got nothin’ to prove/ Pay attention—my intention is to bust a move”) provided a soundtrack for a generation learning what hip-hop could be. As the director of many Beastie Boys music videos—like “Sabotage” and “No Sleep Till Brooklyn”—he shaped the group’s visual aesthetic. As he got older, Yauch used his public platform to speak out about political causes; he founded the Milarepa Fund to educate people about Tibet and later organized the Tibetan Freedom Concerts.
- Eric Sundermann, Village Voice
but id like to acknowledge that they are truly rocks most realized group. (not hip hop but all music really)
you really don’t see many audiences willing to go where their leaders take them once said audience gets comfortable with a position—i mean even the beatles imploded 5 years post spiritual enlightenment. i mean did we really expect the most thoughtful mature considerate act in music to be the same brats who gave usLicensed To Ill?
i *gasp?!?!?* like the rest of america reading Paul’s Boutique‘s four star lead review in Rolling Stone the week i graduated high school with Axl on the cover.
i was like “they made an artistic expression that THESE guys are bowing down to? no way!!!!!!!
i was head scratching.
- ?uestlove of The Roots, Okay Player
His greatest contribution to the rowdy rap trio – whose biggest hits included “Shake Your Rump” and “Hey Ladies” – was a sense of enlightenment. The gruff-voiced Yauch seemed almost immediately apologetic for the misogyny that ran rampant on the Beastie Boys’ first album, “Licensed To Ill,” and its accompanying tour that featured girls in go-go cages and a giant inflatable penis. He even went on to chastise other artists for similar infractions.
- Aidin Vaziri, San Francisco Chronicle
Chris Burlingame is the editor of Another Rainy Saturday.