Simon Says: R.I.P MCA (1964-2012)

on Friday, May 11, 2012
Words: Simon Opie // Photo: Nate Azark

Cancer really is an implacable foe. What’s more it makes no difference in the fight if you are wealthy, famous, talented or even all three. Which is why there was huge sadness at the news that Adam Yauch, aka MCA of the Beastie Boys, had lost his 3-year battle with the disease at the young age of 47. It really is a horrible way to die.

His legacy just from the last few years includes the wonderful 'Hot Sauce Committee Part 2' album and the even more wonderful short(ish) epic film – 'Fight For Your Right Revisited' – that accompanied its release and, in a much shortened version, its best single 'Make Some Noise'.

It’s just such a well-made film, directed by Adam Yauch and featuring a who’s who of Hollywood talent out of whom he conjures some amazing performances. The closing title sequence alone is worth an Oscar, and the short scene where Jack Black, as MCA, and the other Beastie Boys from the future try to untie their dance mat from their DeLorean’s roofrack is as funny as anything you’ll see.

Of course as well as making music, Yauch was an accomplished filmmaker and directed many of the Beastie Boys’ music videos under the pseudonym ‘Nathaniel Hornblower’. The concert movie 'Awesome: I Fuckin’ Shot That' is indeed an awesome record of the Beastie Boys live and evidence of his skills.

Amongst his own/Hornblower’s Beastie Boys music videos, my favourites are the splendidly surreal 'So What’cha Want', the completely japanese 'Intergalactic' and the spoof spy thriller that’s better than any Austin Powers film made for 'Body Movin’'. But really, they’re universally brilliant – a remark that applies to Beastie Boys music videos in general, which all seem to show the signs of his guiding influence.

It’s a testament to Adam Yauch that he will be missed by so many different groups of people. For sure in the world of Hip-Hop – but beyond in the wider music community, where as a Rock fan I will never forget the first time I heard 'Rhymin’ & Stealin’', and became a Hip hop dilettante and Beastie Boys fan in an instant.

Then there’s Yauch's massive contribution and commitment to the Free Tibet movement. But I can’t help feeling that, in reference to his film work, somewhere there’s a supplier of bad nylon wigs and stick-on moustaches who’s going to miss him more than most.

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