Adam Yauch of the Beastie Boys Dies at 47

The Brooklyn-born rapper, known as MCA, had battled cancer

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    Michael 'Mike D' Diamond, Adam 'Ad-Rock' Horovitz and Adam 'MCA' Yauch in 2009

    Adam Yauch, the gravelly voiced Beastie Boys rapper known as MCA, has died at age 47, his representative said in a statement.

    The statement said Yauch died Friday morning in New York City "after a near-three-year-battle with cancer."

    The Brooklyn-born Yauch announced to fans via YouTube in 2009 (below) that he had a tumor in his parotid gland in his neck.

    The diagnosis forced the hip-hop trio to cancel a number of shows and push back the release date for their album, Hot Sauce Committee, Part 2. The group was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame last month, but Yauch was unable to attend.

    "Adam Yauch was a pioneer who broke ground with his music and introduced hip-hop to a wider audience," said Terry Stewart, president of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

    The group, with Michael "Mike D" Diamond and Adam "Ad-Rock" Horovitz, formed in 1981 as a punk band they threw together for Yauch's 17th birthday party, according to the group's bio.

    Since then, the group has made $40 million in sales and has had four No. 1 albums, including the first hip-hop album to top the Billboard 200, with Licensed To Ill in 1986.

    But in the seven studio albums that followed, the Beastie Boys expanded considerably and grew more musically ambitious. Their follow-up, 1989's "Paul's Boutique," ended any suggestion of the group as a one-hit wonder. Extensive in its sampling and sonically layered, the album was ranked the 156th greatest album ever by Rolling Stone in 2003.

    Twitter Reacts to Yauch's Death

    The Beastie Boys would later take up their own instruments — a rarity in hip-hop — on the album "Check Your Head" and subsequent releases.

    The Beastie Boys — a trio of white Jewish kids — established themselves as one of the most respected groups in hip-hop at a time when white rappers were few.

    Adam Yauch: The Spiritual Center of the Beastie Boys

    Introducing the group at the Rock Hall, Public Enemy rapper Chuck D said the Beastie Boys "broke the mold."

    "The Beastie Boys are indeed three bad brothers who made history," said Chuck D. "They brought a whole new look to rap and hip-hop. They proved that rap could come from any street — not just a few."

    Yauch also went under the pseudonym Nathanial Hornblower when working as a filmmaker. He directed numerous videos for the group, as well as the 2006 concert film "Awesome: I F----- Shot That!" He also co-founded the film distribution company Oscilloscope Laboratories, named after his New York studio.

    Yauch is survived by his wife, Dechen Wangdu, and his daughter, Tenzin Losel Yauch.

     

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