It came as a shock to hear about the passing of a hip hop pioneer, MCA from the legendary Beastie Boys. Adam Yauch, known to the hip hop and music community as MCA, was only forty-seven years of age, succumbing to cancer of the parotid salivary gland May 4th. Over the years, the Beastie Boys were able to stay relevant and true to their own roots, blending hip hop, punk, and electronica aesthetics into a cohesive blend not seen within the scope of music in this day and age. From Licensed To Ill to their most recent Hot Sauce Committee Part Two, the group has laid a path for hip hop heads to follow. MCA definitely was a guiding force within the crew, directing videos under the pseudonym Nathanial Hornblower, along with contributing lyrics and musicality to the Beastie Boys sound. That sound isn't readily categorized, and you can attribute that to the group having a musical sensibility that hip hop didn't really have in its infant stages, at least from a purist aspect. Because the Beastie Boys were a punk music outfit in the late 1970's before signing to Def Jam in 1985, they were able to bring an element not seen in hip hop at that point. MCA, Ad Rock, and Mike D paved the way for musicianship and eclectic sampling within hip hop and beyond, influencing The Roots, Pete Rock, Large Pro, Q-Tip, Kanye, The Pharcyde, and everyone in between. Even in the 21st Century, at a time when the younger hip hop set looks at anyone above thirty as "old school", MCA and the Beastie Boys were able to carve out their own niche, sounding retro yet fresh and innovative with each release. "Triple Trouble", from To The 5 Boroughs album released in 2004, is a testament to their fun, innovative, and true to their hip hop roots mindset.
This post is not an obituary for MCA, or the Beastie Boys, for that matter. The philanthropic works of MCA and his musical brethren will live on, from their political causes in Tibet to the war in Iraq. Even with the recent Occupy Wall Street movement, MCA was very vocal, making a recent NYC appearance on behalf of the Occupy stance. Less than a month ago, The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inducted the Beastie Boys into its organization, making the hip hop trio only the third hip hop group to be inducted (along with Run-DMC and Public Enemy). I don't believe that we will see the last of this group, because music is still to be made, and causes are still to be fought for in this day and age. I'm sad though that I didn't get that golden opportunity to see the group at the Virgin Festival at Pimlico Racetrack in May 2007. I still recall that day being one that, as usual, I had to work like a slave to become a master. I relish the notion that the Beastie contingent, led by one of the founding members, showed the B-more crowd what true hip hop was all about. If you don't know what a Beastie Boys event is like, take a look at the 2006 documentary/concert footage Awesome: I Fuckin' Shot That (taken from 2004 footage of a Madison Square Garden concert). I will post that entire concert footage for the world to see.
Peace to MCA...your influence is wide, your legacy is intact, your music is dope. Thank you for being the true embodiment of hip hop culture, no matter race, creed, or background.
REST IN BEATS!