When I was a kid, I loved hip-hop. In the late 70s and early 80s, the music was heady, fresh, and irresistible. I couldn’t get enough of Run DMC, Fat Boys, Kurtis Blow, Whodini, and LL Cool J. But it was trio of white boys from Brooklyn that helped my beloved hip-hop to reach the mainstream.
The Beastie Boys started out as a hardcore punk band in 1979, but later evolved into a rap group fronted by Michael Diamond (Mike D), Adam Horovitz (Ad-Rock), and Adam Yauch (MCA). They landed their big break after working with a young Rick Rubin, who would sign them to his newly-formed Def Jam Recordings in 1984.
I remember the first time I heard one of their songs. It was “Hold It Now, Hit It,” and I was fascinated by Yauch’s rap flow and raspy voice. He instantly became my favorite Beastie Boy and one of my favorite rappers of all time.
I followed Yauch and the rest of the group from their groundbreaking album, “Licensed to Ill” to their last release “Hot Sauce Committee Part Two.” It was interesting to watch them transform from drunk, party guys to upstanding musicians, humanitarians, and activists.
When I first heard that Yauch was diagnosed with cancer in 2009, I was heartbroken, but hopeful that he would beat the disease. Sadly, Yauch lost the battle on May 4, 2012 at the age of 47.
I’m glad that Yauch was alive to see The Beastie Boys’ induction the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame last month. Although he had to sit out the ceremony, the accolade was accepted by Mike D and Ad-Rock.
I just wish he were on that stage to Pass the Mic one last time.