He made it to Brooklyn: MCA (Adam Yauch) dies at 47

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Adam Yauch, known as MCA as a co-founder of the groundbreaking rap group Beastie Boys, died earlier today after battling cancer. Born August 5, 1964 in Brooklyn, New York, he was 47. Yauch had been diagnosed in 2009 with a tumor in his salivary gland, and was notably absent last month when the group became the third rap group to be admitted to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

The group began as a hardcore punk band while Yauch, Adam Horovitz and Michael Diamond were in high school in 1979. When they evolved the sound into rap, they were often hailed for playing live instruments in a genre dominated by samples and pre-recorded beats. That said, their second album, Paul’s Boutique, set the bar for the art of sampling and many music fans and critics still regard it as one of the form’s finest examples. You can hear the brief instrumental track “59 Christie Street” from that album here.

Yauch seemed to ‘grow up’ more noticeably than the other members of the Beastie Boys. A practicing Buddhist, he was instrumental in organizing concerts to raise awareness of the repression of the Tibetan people. The series of concerts spanned from 1996 to 2001, and featured all-star lineups of bands (including the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Rage Against the Machine, De La Soul, Beck, Foo Fighters, U2, Radiohead, Dave Matthews Band, R.E.M. and Pearl Jam), plus speakers and traditional Buddhist acts. Yauch also directed many of the group’s videos under the pseudonym Nathaniel Hornblower, and later founded his own film company called Oscilloscope Laboratories, which released a number of documentaries including “Exit Through the Gift Shop.”

When the band formed, the Beastie Boys were known just as much for their party attitudes as they were for their ability to elicit the respect of black rap fans and musicians. Above is the video for “No Sleep Till Brooklyn” — a hit from their first album Licensed to Ill (1984-1987) — complete with the boys poking fun at hair-band ridiculousness and scantily-clad women. Sweet dreams, Adam.

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9 Responses to He made it to Brooklyn: MCA (Adam Yauch) dies at 47

  1. Melissa says:

    I was wondering how Atropos being conjunct Eris might affect Mercury’s transit. Obviously, something is ending, but what?
    Could Adam Yauch’s death mean something larger? When I saw his chart I noticed how Venus was on the Aries Point in Cancer, so close to the North Node, which splits her from a nearby Mars. It made me think of the Thema Mundi chart. When I looked, I noticed that his Moon was within 2 degrees of the Asc. and Moon in the Thema Mundi. His Sun is within 2 degrees of the Thema Mundi Sun. His Scorpio Neptune is conj. Mars to the degree. Mike D. would often mention in songs about being a Scorpio. Finally, QB1 is close to his descendant, did that signal the transition for him? Then looking at the Dalai Lama’s chart, like the Thema Mundi, he has a Cancer ascendant. He has a lot of water, like Adam, with a grand trine including the Sun, Saturn, and Jupiter.
    I do not know what this means, I just thought there may be a pattern. Adam’s death has reached to so many different people around the world that again it seems to be something, but what? A boy from Brooklyn bringing these ancient, present voices from the peaks in Tibet.
    Also, risk factors associated with this type of cancer according to the Mayo clinic: “Workplace exposure to certain substances. People who work with certain substances may have an increased risk of salivary gland cancer. Jobs associated with salivary gland cancer include those involved in rubber manufacturing, asbestos mining and plumbing.”
    Thank you Amanda for the chart and post. Thank you be for your posts, you shed a light in my mind. Thank you Eric, for being who you are.

  2. makaraketu says:

    Maybe the toxins aren’t just external, Eric, although I know that that effort is needed. I read something last night on Yauch where he acknowledged he had done harm in the world with his earlier actions. Encountering the dharma would make you be honest w/yourself like that.

  3. stormilarue stormilarue says:

    i’m a huge hip hop fan, and have most all the beastie boys cuts, even license to ill on vinyl bought fresh back in the day. have also seen them live and i agree, amazing they were. saw this post right before heading out to a hip hop show to see groups from mexico, chile and some special friends from puerto rico perform. with joy we danced under the full moon rising, focusing on the gratitude for how this music unites us and keeps us whole. much love to the man MCA and peace in your transitions (so appropriate during Wesak as well). ♥☮♫


  4. Len Wallick Len Wallick says:

    Good eye, a very cogent observation. Adam was a cross-quarter baby, conceived during Samhain season. Given the name of the group, it looks like he was in-touch with his earthly transit on a very deep level with a wry sense of humor. About a month before he was born (July 9, 1964) there was a solar eclipse at 17+ Cancer, trine his natal retrograde Chiron to the degree. The preceding lunar eclipse (6-24-1964, just after the Cancer solstice at 3+ Cancer) was conjunct his natal Mars, trine his natal retrograde Saturn to the degree and closely trine his natal Neptune. Yes indeed, water trine city. His natal Mercury precisely splitting the applying Uranus-Pluto conjunction further reenforces the depth of his awareness. Adam was one of the kids Bowie had in mind when he wrote “Changes”.

  5. Amanda Painter Amanda Painter says:

    in case anyone is interested, here is adam’s approximate natal chart, time set for noon since i cannot find any birth time for him:


    i have not had time to really try and investigate it, but the one thing that popped out at me was the transiting sun in taurus squared his natal sun yesterday…

  6. Len Wallick Len Wallick says:

    Amanda and Eric,
    Thank you for this tribute. Adam and The Boys did not fill a niche, they created one. Once created it became an organic part of the background. That’s an awesome achievement in art.

  7. Melissa says:

    For me, The Beastie Boy’s albums were the soundtrack for the early 90’s. Especially Ill Communication. My all time favorite Beastie song and lyrics:
    Bodhisattva Vow Lyrics
    As I Develop The Awakening Mind I Praise The Buddha As They Shine
    I Bow Before You As I Travel My Path To Join Your Ranks,
    I Make My Full Time Task
    For The Sake Of All Beings I Seek
    The Enlighted Mind That I Know I’ll Reap
    Respect To Shantideva And All The Others
    Who Brought Down The Darma For Sisters And Brothers
    I Give Thanks For This World As A Place To Learn
    And For This Human Body That I Know I’ve Earned
    And My Deepest Thanks To All Sentient Beings
    For Without Them There Would Be No Place To Learn What I’m Seeing
    There’s Nothing Here That’s Not Been Said Before
    But I Put It Down Now So I’ll Be Sure
    To Solidify My Own Views And I’ll Be Glad If It Helps
    Anyone Else Out Too

    If Others Disrespect Me Or Give Me Flack
    I’ll Stop And Think Before I React
    Knowing That They’re Going Through Insecure Stages
    I’ll Take The Opportunity To Exercise Patience
    I’ll See It As A Chance To Help The Other Person
    Nip It In The Bud Before It Can Worsen
    A Change For Me To Be Strong And Sure
    As I Think On The Buddhas Who Have Come Before
    As I Praise And Respect The Good They’ve Done
    Knowing Only Love Can Conquer In Every Situation
    We Need Other People In Order To Create
    The Circumstances For The Learning That We’re Here To Generate
    Situations That Bring Up Our Deepest Fears
    So We Can Work To Release Them Until They’re Cleared
    Therefore, It Only Makes Sense
    To Thank Our Enemies Despite Their Intent

    The Bodhisattva Path Is One Of Power And Strength
    A Strength From Within To Go The Length
    Seeing Others Are As Important As Myself
    I Strive For A Happiness Of Mental Wealth
    With The Interconnectedness That We Share As One
    Every Action That We Take Affects Everyone
    So In Deciding For What A Situation Calls
    There Is A Path For The Good For All
    I Try To Make My Every Action For That Highest Good
    With The Altruistic Wish To Achive Buddhahood
    So I Pledge Here Before Everyone Who’s Listening
    To Try To Make My Every Action For The Good Of All Beings
    For The Rest Of My Lifetimes And Even Beyond
    I Vow To Do My Best To Do No Harm
    And In Times Of Doubt I Can Think On The Dharma
    And The Enlightened Ones Who’ve Graduated Samsara

    Thank you…

  8. Katie Vee says:

    Thanks, Eric! One of my favourites. I’m not a big rap fan either, but I have always loved the Beastie Boys. They make such creative, humorous, and fun music videos. One of their last: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w-QIiVS_7Hs (Warning: Some scenes feature action figure violence. But ultimately no action figures ware harmed during the filming of this video. I hope. :) )

  9. Eric Francis Eric Francis says:

    I don’t like rap, but the Beastie Boys were one of the very hottest shows I have ever seen. The one I saw was the benefit for Mumia Abu Jamal in the late 1990s, at Brendan Byrne Arena at the Meadowlands (headlined by Rage Against the Machine, but the Beastie Boys stole the show). I had some excellent press seats, spent part of the day with one of Mumia’s best friends, I came to the show with good friends…one of whom lit up some really good herb just as the lights went down — and for the next two hours I was utterly astonished at their mastery over their material and in particular the way they would move the whole energy in the room with the most subtle gestures. We have to move this discussion of toxins and cancer to the front of the agenda.

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