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Adam Yauch

(1964 - 2012)

Adam Yauch was an American Jewish-Buddhist rapper, songwriter, film director and humanitarian most well known as “MCA” from the Beastie Boys rock band.

Yauch (born August 5, 1964; died May 4, 2012) was born in Brooklyn, New York. Although his mother was Jewish and father had been raised Catholic, Yauch was brought up without a religious affiliation.

In high school, Yauch taught himself to play the bass guitar and soon after formed The Beastie Boys band with John Berry, Kate Schellenbach, and Michael Diamond. Created as a hardcore punk band, the Beastie Boys evolved over the years to focus more on hip-hop and rap and became hugely successfu. By 2010 the band had sold 40 million records worldwide.

In 2002, Yauch started a recording studio in New York City called Oscilloscope Laboratories in addition to an independent film distribution company called Oscilloscope Pictures. In 2006 he directed the Beastie Boys concert film, Awesome; I F$&%#in’ Shot That! and directed the 2008 Gunnin’ For That #1 Spot about a group of high school basketball prospects in Harlem. His company also distributed Wendy and Lucy (2008) and The Messenger (2009).

In April 2012, the hip-hop trio from the Beastie Boys was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Yauch became active in the Free Tibet Movement after a backpacking trip to Nepal, and founded the Milarepa Fund – named after Tibet’s most famous and beloved saint – one of three organizations that helped establish Students for a Free Tibet, which today is one of the leading organizations in the movement. In accordance with his belief that change in Tibet can only come through public awareness and grassroots pressure, he organized a series of large concerts from 1996 to 2001 in North America, Europe, and Asia by reaching out to some of the greatest musicians of our era. In doing so, Yauch helped bring the Tibetan cause from a fringe issue into a defining political movement in the public consciousness.

Yauch died on May 4, 2012 after a three-year battle with throat cancer. He is survived by his wife Dechen Wangdu and their daughter Tenzin Losel.

Sources: Eitan Kensky, “Adam Yauch and the Adolescent Sublime,” Forward, May 6, 2012 Wikipedia: Adam Yauch; Beastie Boys, Tenzin Dorjee, “Remembering Adam Yauch,” Huffington Post, May 4, 2012.