Credit: Frazer Harrison/Getty Images
With the deeply saddening death of Beastie Boys founding member Adam Yauch aka MCA, the world lost a true cultural force. Not just an MC in one of the most influential hip-hop groups of all time, Yauch was also a father, Buddhist, philanthropist and activist. Slightly older than fellow Beasties Mike D and Ad-Rock, MCA was the elder statesman of the group.
After listening to Beastie Boys all weekend and reading retrospectives about them and MCA, we've decided to continue the celebration of all the unique, eclectic work Yauch did in his 47 years. We're still getting used to talking about him in the past tense, but here are 15 surprising things you may not have known about MCA.
1. When Beastie Boys were on tour opening for Madonna in 1985, MCA made out with the Material Girl in a dressing room.
Credit: Frank Micelotta/Getty Images
Think about that: in the same year Yauch became old enough to legally drink (not that it mattered), he was getting fresh with Madonna in her f***ing PRIME. Frank Sinatra wrote a song about years like that.
2. MCA pulled a Kanye 15 years before Kanye did.
Before Kanye West interrupted Taylor Swift's VMA acceptance speech, Yauch pulled the same move--in a much more bizarre way -- with R.E.M. in 1994. The band was accepting the Best Director award, when Yauch stormed the podium as his lederhosen-wearing director alter ego Nathanial Hornblower, saying that Spike Jonze should've won for "Sabotage." He also claimed credit for the idea for "Star Wars" in the process.
3. Eazy-E sampled MCA on "Boyz-N-The-Hood"
Yep, a white Jewish kid from Brooklyn could be heard saying "beer drinking, breath stinking, sniffin' glue" on the epic West Coast gangsta track.
4. In the group's early days, MCA was the de facto tour driver.
Judging by this Spin story, it was a lot more fun than you'd think.
5. On a related note, he did the driving stunts in the "Sabotage" video.
6. MCA came from the Lemmy school of bass-playing.
Credit: Daniel Boczarski/Getty Images
7. Yauch was a tireless advocate for Tibet.
He co-founded the Milarepa Fund, which raises money for Tibet and staged a series of Tibetan Freedom Concerts. He was also married to a Tibetan-American.
8. He was in the indie movie biz.
Yauch started Oscilloscope Laboratories, which released indie films including "The Messenger" (nominated for two Oscars), Banksy’s "Exit Through The Gift Shop" and the LCD Soundsystem concert film "Shut Up And Play The Hits."
9. Sometimes, he sang.
The gruff rapper had a surprisingly vulnerable, soothing singing voice. Check out "I Don't Know" from Hello Nasty for proof.
10. He again unleashed Nathanial Hornblower after a negative New York Times review.
In 2004, Yauch (as Hornblower) directed the video for "Ch-Check It Out," which was panned by the New York Times. So
Yauch Hornblower sent a letter to the editor, which the Times published. Among other things, the letter extolled the virtues of the video and demanded the reviewer repay him with a goat.
11. MCA really liked samurai films and Wes Anderson.
Credit: Andrew H. Walker/Getty Images
Three classic samurai films and two by Anderson fill out his 10 favorite Criterion Collection releases.
12. He was the driving force behind the Beasties' reformed, anti-womanizing ways.
And it all started with his simple verse from 1994's "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."
13. The first Beastie Boys concert was on Yauch's 17th birthday.
Back then, they were a jokey hardcore band, but had already gained the attention of some small-time labels.
14. Post-Licensed To Ill, MCA started a side band called Brooklyn.
15. His parents rapped at his wedding.
And it all comes full-circle.