Remembering Hip-Hop Legend Adam Yauch

By Aaris A. Schroeder

Adam Yauch, vocalist and bass player also known as MCA of renowned hip-hop group Beastie Boys passed away May 4, 2012 leaving his wife, Dechen Wangdu and 15-year-old daughter Tenzin Losel. After a three year battle of Lymphoma, Yauch was finally laid to rest.

Yauch’s musical group, Beastie Boys was best known for albums such as, “License to Ill,” “Paul’s Boutique” and “Intergalactic.”  These three young Jewish men were best known for catchy rock samples under spat poetry mixed with funk and punk.  Many young people remember Beastie Boys on MTV and on homemade mix tapes but do they remember him recording in Studio 171A; the same studio that Bad Brains recorded out of?

“The Beastie Boys [are] a real big influence in rap music but also a novelty.  MCA’s had a deeper voice,” says Just Luv, Northern-CA hip-hop producer, Just Luv resonated with MCA, “He was the quieter, cool guy. Not so comedy – very down to earth.”

In’ 92, “Check Your Head” was released, featuring songs such as “So Whatcha Want” and “Pass the Mic.”  According to a conversation had with bass-player, Harley White Jr. of Sacramento-based Harley White Jazz Orchestra Band while on a trip to the studio with Beastie Boys, the guys were in a creative rut.

“They went on a snowboarding trip and they got their rhythm back. It took a snowboarding trip!” says White who also had the chance to play bass with Yauch in the studio.

In ’94, “Ill Communication” was released with songs such as, “Sure Shot” bringing a new kind of hip-hop to center stage.

(Sure Shot)

I want to say a little something that’s long overdue
The disrespect to women has got to be through
To all the mothers and sisters and the wives and friends
I want to offer my love and respect to the end

I keep my underwear up with a piece of elastic
I use a bullshit mic that’s made out of plastic
To send my rhymes out to all of the nations
Like Ma Bell, I’ve got the ill communications

Yauch and Wangdu, daughter of Tibetan Ambassador were married in 1998, the same year that “Hello Nasty” was released.  When they first met Yauch joined Wangdu in her lifelong dedication to help liberate Tibet from China.

After releasing two more albums, “To the 5 Boroughs” in ’04 and “The Mix Up” in ’07, Yauch discovered that he had Lymphomia in ‘09, “About two months ago, I started feeling this little lump in my throat; I started to think that I should talk to my doctor.  He sent me to a specialist. They did tests, and I actually have a form of cancer in the gland that’s over here, in the parotid gland and it’s also in the lymph node right in that area.”

Yauch kept his spirits up saying that this form of cancer is treatable and that he would beat it.  He went to several specialists and spiritual healers, including the Dalai Lama and a Nunnery called, “Jamyang Choling” for healing prayers.  Yauch began eating vegan and organic only and was feeling remarkably better.

“We all knew it was coming. Especially when it is someone you look up to. Punk Rock and Hip-Hop culture went hand in hand with each other,” says Sacramento-based emcee, Mr. P Chill who goes on to explain that it was difficult at first for Hip-Hop to have a venue, so Beastie Boys and other Hip-Hop heads would perform with and at Punk Rock venues becoming very close to bands such as “Bad Brains.” The two groups both recorded at Studio 171A.

“There weren’t a lot of white emcees doing it. There was a lot of foul play towards white rappers,” says Mr. P Chill who is also white, “Tragic loss…”

“Just wanted to thank them and everyone else who sent positive thoughts my way,” says Yauch about his recovery.

“Hot Sauce Committee, Part II” was released in ’11 and was the last album that Beastie Boys released together.   On May 4, Yauch was succumbed by his cancer and the world lost a valuable teacher, humanitarian and hip-hop legend, leaving a positive mark in the hearts of many.

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