Adam Yauch from the Beastie Boys, also known as MCA, passed away today after a long battle with cancer. He told fans about his condition in July of 2009 via a YouTube video.
Starting out as the bass player in the Beastie Boys when they were a hard-core punk rock band in the early ’80s, he, along with drummer Michael Diamond (also known as Mike D) and guitarist Adam Horovitz (King Ad-Rock) began rapping and were signed to Def Jam Records, where their Rick Rubin-produced debut, 1986-s Licensed To Illbecame the first hip-hop album to top the Billboard charts.
After License, they left Def Jam and Rush Management (both run, at the time, by Russell Simmons) and moved from New York to Los Angeles, where they recorded 1989-s Paul’s Boutique, a huge artistic departure from Licensed To Ill, and at the time, considered to be a commercial failure. In the years since, it has been recast as a seminal album. For 1992-s Check Your Head, the group began playing their instruments again, and the album was split between conventional hip-hop tracks, hard rock/rap hybrids, instrumental funk workouts and a couple of hardcore punk blasts. It was the blueprint the group would follow in subsequent years, as most of their music fit into one of those categories.