Little can be said that would properly summate the importance of the Beastie Boys. Albums like Paul’s Boutique and Hello Nasty mean several things to several (hundred thousand) people. The Brooklyn trio possessed a signature sound that remains immediately recognizable, much of that is thanks to the beats laid down by DJ Mike D, but equally important has always been the mic skills of MCA and Ad-Rock.
More than just an MC, MCA laid down incredibly catchy and recognizable basslines, most notably on Sabotage and Gratitude. As the first major white rap group, Beastie Boys had to earn respect of both critics and fellow rappers, and they did so on account of good music and being extremely affable people. Later in life Yauch became a major supporter of Tibet and Buddhism as a whole, which he got into in depth in this interview with the website Shambhala Sun.
A product of the MTV era, Beastie Boys never shied from great music videos, with ‘Sabotage’ and ‘Intergalactic’ being two iconic music videos. With that in mind, Yauch was also co-founder of Oscilloscope Productions. Oscilloscope has distributed films such as We Need to Talk About Kevin and Meek’s Cutoff, as well as Shut Up and Play the Hits, a documentary on LCD Soundsystem, currently playing at Hot Docs in Toronto.
Yauch lost a three year battle with cancer on May 4, 2012, he was just 48 years old.
Here is a playlist of Beastie Boys’ music videos and live performances, closed out with the sombre and strikingly optimistic announcement of Yauch’s cancer: