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In Memoriam to Adam "MCA" Yauch: The 10 Best Beastie Boys Songs

Updated on May 4, 2018
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CJ Baker is an author who wrote the novel and started the companion podcast "An Epic Soundtrack To A Mundane Existence."

Adam "MCA" Yauch, Beastie Boys Live at the Brixton Academy - 05/09/07

RIP, Adam "MCA" Yauch (August 5, 1964 – May 4, 2012) a true legend.
RIP, Adam "MCA" Yauch (August 5, 1964 – May 4, 2012) a true legend. | Source

RIP: Adam "MCA" Yauch

On May 4th, 2012 Adam "MCA" Yauch of the Beastie Boys died of cancer, at the age of 47 years old. He has been battling with cancer since 2009 and the illness prevented him from attending the 2012 Rock & Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony.

More than just being a founding member of one of the most influential bands in hip hop history, Yauch was also a political activist. He was a devout Buddhist and he was heavily involved in the Tibetan independence movement and he organized the series of Tibetan Freedom Concerts during the late 90s-early 2000s.

He also directed many of the bands iconic music videos (under the pseudonym Nathanial Hörnblowér). He also started his own independent film company, Oscilloscope Pictures.

In memoriam to Adam "MCA" Yauch, here is a list of the 10 best Beastie Boys Songs. I did leave off the obvious choice, "Fight For Your Right To Party". Even though it was their biggest hit, Yauch and the rest of the Beastie Boys matured, and the sentiments of that song no longer reflect who they are as individuals.

Feel free to list your favorite Beastie Boys songs and comments of tribute to the great Adam "MCA" Yauch.

10: Don't Play No Game That I Can't Win (with Santigold)

This infectious dub infused collaboration with Santigold is from the Beastie Boys' 2011 Hot Sauce Committee, Part 2.

The album was set for release in 2009 but was delayed because of Adam "MCA" Yauch being diagnosed with cancer. But when the album was finally released it proved that the Beastie Boys still had the skills to pay the bills.

#9: In a World Gone Mad

This was a 2003 protest song concerning the war in Iraq. The Beastie Boys offered it as a free download on several different websites. This song served as a fitting precursor to their 2004 album To the 5 Boroughs, which was the most socially conscious album that they ever released.

Even though Adam "MCA" Yauch and the rest of the Beastie Boys have been actively involved in political causes since the mid 90s, they generally didn't address their political views in their music. Prior to "In a World Gone Mad" the Beastie Boys never really did a straight-out protest song (unless you count fighting for your right to party as a form of protesting).

#8: Shadrach

"Shadrach" which refers to the Biblical account of Shadrach, Meshach & Abednego is from the 1989 album, Paul's Boutique. It contains a notable sample from Sly and the Family Stone's "Loose Booty". Even though the album was considered a commercial disappointment on its initial release (it did go on to sell more than 2 million copies) it was one of the most innovative and experimental hip hop albums of all time. It was especially considered ground-breaking for its creative use of samples.

The Beastie Boys video for Shadrach was directed by Adam "MCA" Yauch, under the pseudonym Nathanial Hörnblowér. The video itself was quite the stylistic achievement. Each frame of the video was hand painted.

Beastie Boys During The Check Your Head Tour


#7: Sure Shot

"Sure Shot" is the opening track to the Beastie Boys 1994 album, Ill Communication.

The song contains one of the most poignant verses ever to be rapped by Adam "MCA" Yauch: "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 the sisters and the wives and friends/ I want to offer my love and respect to the end."

Yauch's earnestness in his acknowledgment of past indiscretions, displayed just how much he and the other Beastie Boys matured, since the sexism displayed on their debut, 1986's album Licensee To Ill.

#6: Intergalactic

This funky interstellar jam was from the Beastie Boys' 1998 album, Hello Nasty. This may be one of the most infectious and fun songs the Beastie Boys ever recorded.

The campy, but fun music video for "Intergalactic" was directed by Adam "MCA" Yauch (once again under the pseudonym Nathanial Hörnblowér).

Just to highlight the fact that the Beastie Boys transcend genres, they won the 1999 Grammy for "Best Alternative Album" & the Grammy for "Best Rap Performance by a Duo or Group". They are the only artists to win (or be nominated) in both Rap & Alternative categories.

#5: So What'Cha Want

"So What'Cha Want" was from the Beastie Boys' 1992 album, Check Your Head. The album was not only the follow up to Paul's Boutique, but it was also a stylistic departure. Even though the album still featured samples ("When The Levee Breaks" by Led Zeppelin was one of the samples used for "So What'cha Want") the Beastie Boys returned to their punk roots by also playing their own instruments.

The video was directed by Adam "MCA" Yauch, once again under the pseudonym, Nathanial Hörnblowér.

#4: Song For The Man

"Song For The Man" was from the Beastie Boys' 1998 album Hello Nasty. This song highlights the eclecticism of Hello Nasty and the band. Musically there is not much of a hip hop or punk influence on this song. But there are some really cool jazzy things going on, and it even has a retro spaced out pop sound.

Lyrically, it shows that the Beaste Boys are deeper than they quite often get credit for. The song is an indictment of male sexist attitudes: "What makes you feel and why you gotta be?/Like you got the right to look her up and down/What makes this world so sick and evil?"

#3: Hey Ladies

I always thought it would be cool, if everyone alive could pick their own entrance music. Every time you walked in the room your entrance music would play. To me, this funky anthem off the 1989 released Paul’s Boutique would be cool entrance music. You walk into the room wearing bell bottoms, platform shoes, and holding a boom box, with this song playing. That would just be way too cool.

Also, like every other song on Paul's Boutique, it is fun to play the guess the sample game. How many samples can you pick out in this song?

An interesting fact that highlights the Beastie Boys broad appeal was the fact that this was the first song to make both the Billboard "Modern Rock Tracks" & "Hot Rap Singles" chart.

#2: Sabotage

"Sabotage" is from the Beastie Boys, 1994 album, Ill Communication. This song shows the band fully embracing their hardcore roots (with Adam "MCA" Yauch playing bass, and the other members playing guitar & drums). "Sabotage" was also one of the songs that helped shaped the "rapcore" genre.

Along with being a kick ass, rocking song, it also features one of the best videos ever, directed by Spike Jonze. The video is campy in a good way. Both the song and video are absolute classics.

#1: No Sleep Till Brooklyn

"No Sleep Till Brooklyn" is from the Beastie Boys' 1986 debut License to Ill. The song's name is a spoof on the Motörhead album, No Sleep 'til Hammersmith. The song features Kerry King of Slayer on guitar. This song was influential in the development of rap & rock fusion. This is one of the most rocking songs of all time.

Concerning the Beastie Boys debut album License to Ill, even though the band did mature beyond the frat rap of that album, you cannot deny that album's considerable influence. It was the first hip hop album that went number 1 on the billboard chart and sold over 9 million copies. License to Ill help bridge the genre gap between rock & rap.

Also, to further emphasize the maturation of Adam "MCA" Yauch and the Beastie Boys, when the band would perform this song in later years, they would modify the lyrics. For example: "M.C.A.'s in the back because he's skeezin' with a whore," has become ""M.C.A.'s in the back at the Mahjong hall". Also "Autographed pictures and classy hoes" is now changed to "Autographed pictures to nobody knows."

RIP Adam "MCA" Yauch. You will truly be missed. But your legacy will live on forever.

© 2012 CJ Baker


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