The Death of Adam MCA Yauch is a Hard One to Shake

Yesterday Hip Hop lost a pioneering figure and legend Adam ‘MCA’ Yauch of the Beastie Boys. There’s so much one can say about him ranging from his pioneering status of being a member of one of the first successful white acts in Hip Hop (they sold more than 40 million albums) to his activism around Tibet and their independence movement and more recently around Occupy Wall Street.

It was pointed out by writer Dave Zirin that Yauch who had been battling cancer for the past 3 years was part of that infamous March last fall across the Brooklyn Bridge when police were shown beating and arresting over 700 protestors.Yauch risked arrest and bodily harm that day in his participation.. He was in the middle of cancer treatments when he marched.

We can talk about Yauch coming out of Punk Rock culture and and how there’s a rich and undervalued history that shows how early Hip Hop and Punk found kinship and natural alliance as members of both genres felt alienated and disenfranchised by society and back then,  a disco laden, formulaic music industry.

We can talk about Yauch being part of a crew who under the musical production of Rick Rubin as writer Dan Charnas recently noted, helped usher Hip Hop from the Beat Box era to the sampling era. We can talk about how Run DMC introduced the world to the Beastie Boys and later the Beasties introduced the world to Public Enemy.

We can talk about Yauch branching out and becoming a skilled music video producer and film director. He founded Oscilloscope Laboratories, an independent film production and distribution company based out of New York City.

Adam did great things. He accomplished much… and those who knew him personally described him as serious, sensitive, genuine and a really cool guy. He will definitely be missed.

Yesterday we did a tribute n Hard Knock Radio 94.1 FM  with Big Payback author Dan Charnas.  Here’s what he had to say about Adam MCA Yauch

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=74WJkyUtBYs

Heavy D is one of many iconic figures to pass away from health related ailments before the age of 50

Above and beyond his music career and activism, for many in the Hip Hop Generation Adam’s death  underscores a very disturbing trend. Him dying at 47 is increasingly becoming commonplace where many of our icons, peers, family and friends are barely living to 50. In the past couple of years we’ve lost many legends including MIchael Jackson, Whitney Houston, J-Dilla, Guru, Professor X, Big Pun, Poetic, DJ Screw, Heavy D, Eyedea, MC Breed, Pimp C, Big Moe, ODB, Nate Dogg, Bernie Mac, and Special One of the Conscious Daughters just to name a few..

These names are on top of those we know and love who died violently or via accident like; Proof, Freaky Tah, Big L, Stack Bundles, Souljah Slim, Left Eye, Aaliyah, Dolla, M-Bone, Mac Dre, Left Eye and most recently football legend Junior Seau.

If we toss in names like Eazy E, Marvin Gaye, 2Pac and Biggie the names of untimely death is a long one.

Yesterday someone attempting to be stoic & cavalier upon hearing about the death of Adam, asserted,  ‘Oh well death is a part of life’..

I responded;  ‘What kind of life is this when so many who we, know, luv and admire are all dying before the age of 50.’

This is not just about people dying at the hands of violence, but so many on the list of names I noted above, are dying from health related ailments. This is unacceptable and should not be ‘just a part of life’. That’s called settling.

During our tribute show around Adam’s death  Paradise Gray of the group X-Clan came on and recounted his friendship with Adam. He also reminded our listeners how the Hip Hop Generation has grown up in a world during the Reagan era when society started dismantling  safety nets. Our generation saw the beginning of repressive forces gutting and further privatizing healthcare and other much-needed services..

Paradise said we are now starting to see the results of that societal divestment with so many people checking out before age 50.

‘Many in Hip Hop never had health insurance’, Paradise said. This is an issue he knows all too well having lost two of his groups members to untimely health related death, Sugar Shaft and Professor X.

Here’s our Interview w/ Paradise Gray:

It’s not just health insurance when your sick, but the ability to go to the doctor, get routine check ups and be educated on ways top prevent early disease. Paradise said over the next 10 years things will get worse, because many never really took care of themselves or had the opportunity or resources and as a generation hits their late 40s and then 50s illnesses will start to emerge and yield serious consequences.

We lost Adam to cancer, but in recent times we’ve some like artist/activist DJ Kuttin’ Kandi and pioneering photographer Ernie Paniccioli who have been saddled with massive medical bills after getting sick. Last year we were all out collecting money Ernie who was diagnosed with cancer as well as for the Father of Hip Hop Kool Herc who suffered from severe kidney stones and had no health insurance.   Kandi who was recently had her heart stop and had to get emergency surgery is raising money for her care HERE

In the wake of Adam’s passing, the Hip Hop Generation has much to reflect upon. The Black Panthers who were a couple of generations ahead of us, had the good common sense to open up free health clinics for the community. This act may have saved countless lives. We within Hip Hop need to step our game up in a big way and take the vast amounts of money and resources we have access to and follow suit. We should do this for ourselves and do this for those in our ranks who are ailing. We should do this in memory of Adam who we saw emerge as a keen activist, generous and thoughtful man….

RIP Adam MCA Yauch

Comments

  1. I really appreciate what you are saying here. If people can connect the dots (like you’re doing) and show how we all lose when we deny people basic treatment like health care then we really will be effecting change. I would love to hear more people talk about how culture and basic human rights are inseparable.

  2. Don’t Forget KPFA’s own Andrea Lewis, Gina Hotta, and Sheryl Flowers.

  3. Scott K Pickering says:
  4. how you gonna put MIchael Jackson, Whitney Houston, and DJ Screw in that list? yeah they were under 50, but they all died from issues that were (at a minimum) exacerbated by substance abuse, which is a completely different issue altogether. Hard to compare their deaths to Yauch succombing to cancer or Dilla succombing to lupus.

  5. Reblogged this on The Urban Link.

  6. Tto…substance/drug abuse is just as much a disease as cancer or lupus

  7. Anonymous says:

    Paradise Gray is right. In the developed countries 1 out of 3 persons has to face cancer in his or her lifetime. But it’s not that people like Adam Yauch didn’t have the money or resources. Once you’re caught in the net of cancer bureaucracy it as likely to kill you as the cancer would do by itself. Don’t forget it’s a multi billion $ industry! People never come first if money’s involved!

    I’d like to share some videos about cannabis extract as a possible cure for cancer (don’t smoke it!):


    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G_7gy7Dyta0&feature=related.

    Fight for your right!

    If you can’t believe it, here’s a peer reviewed study about the effect of cannabinoids on tumor cells:
    http://www.bbm1.ucm.es/cannabis/archivos/publicaciones/Exp_Cell_Res06_312_2121_2131.pdf

    Show it to your Doc.
    The gov. knows it since the mid 70s!

    google
    manuel guzman university of madrid
    Robert Melamede PhD University of Colorado
    cancer cannabis

    RIP MCA

  8. I really appreciate you pointing this out when all to often we turn a cheek and just say “so is life.” I think the only thing missing is the ever so absent discussion on mental health being a factor in some of these young losses. It’s as if we’re afraid to tell our peers to seek help or to better their diets, habits, etc…peace DaveyD

  9. Mzz Fiveoneoh…sorry, but i don’t subscribe to that notion of equivalency.

    the mental obsession that progressively leads to a lack of mental control and the sensation of physical compulsion in the person who drinks his or her self to death or dies from the cumulative effects of abusing drugs is not in my book on a par with someone afflicted with cancer, lupus, etc.

    not to say that alcoholism and substance abuse aren’t serious issues that plague our communities and need to be treated with urgency and care, but when we lament “many of our icons, peers, family and friends are barely living to 50″ I have to pause and think that we wouldn’t even have to be mourning deaths of people like DJ Screw, Michael Jackson, and Whitney Houston, or those of people like Jimi Hendrix for example, if not for the reckless lifestyle they pursued of their own conscious or subconscious choosing.

    the death of DJ Screw, for one, is a pretty bold faced example of an absurd “death before 50″ that is ridiculous as a supposed equivalent to a cancer death. His autopsy revealed the primary cause of death was a codeine overdose in combination with additional mixed drug intoxication. may he rest in peace, but c’mon son. i don’t think he was drinking that much syrup because he had a cold or a bad cough; he made a conscious lifestyle choice to consume that stuff to get high. Yauch FOUGHT cancer, Dilla FOUGHT lupus. DJ Screw flirted with death; he sought it out consciously and went too far.

    to me, disease or not, an early death from alcoholism, drug overdose, or as a result of any explicit substance abuse is more equivalent to dying from a self-inflicted gunshot wound than it is to losing a battle with cancer.

    • so – do some peoole deserve more honor after death than others? in the beginnings of the HIV epidemic, the first question was always “how did s/he get it? was it a blood transfusion (innocent victim)? or was it sex or needles (not deserving of the same sympathy or care)? this sounds like a version of the same thing. watching my mother dying of cancer, seeing some of the places people are suffering and dying in who may have been smokers, addicts, or simply without the education tonot able to work mid-management jobs like she did – they may have contributed to their own suffering or simply been poorer but i wouldn’t wish their circumstance on dogs (and i love dogs). none of us should be dying so young. we all deserve better health care, better food, a healthier planet. in a way, the substance abuse losses are even greater, because there will always be the question of “what would they have been able to give if they had been able to come out from behind the burden of their addiction?” at least MCA gave it his best shot, with love!

  10. Anonymous says:

    “…if not for the reckless lifestyle they pursued of their own conscious or subconscious choosing.”

    “.. he made a conscious lifestyle choice to consume that stuff to get high”

    Our decisions are never conscious alone, they are also always subconscious.
    Here’s another perspective on why people become addicts or abuse drugs.:

    It’s a less conscious decision than one might think. It’s about pain and self medication.

  11. Tto.. The Beastie Boys I know partied hard early on in their careers.. Fight for your right to party and their early songs may have influenced those who were younger to follow suit…I know when I came up the Beastie Boys were played at all the frat parties and synomous with drinking and getting high.. I seen those guys in concert back in the early days partying as did Paradise.. They used to party together …

    Yes Adam changed and got is life together..As did many others including Paradise, but there’s no telling what toll it took… On top of all that anyone with substance abuse problem deserves help..This is an industry that markets and promotes songs celebrating getting high off codine.. That’s criminal when so many above and beyond DJ Screw or Big Moe die from it… Its a shame that u would object to the names of the dearly departed being lumped together.. I know MCA wouldn’t do that.. he understood we’re human, with our strengths and weaknesses.. Perhaps you were showing your weakness of not being compassionate.. No one deserves to die so young..

  12. gimme a break yall. i don’t think that anyone’s death is less tragic than another, nor that due to the circumstances of their passing they should be somehow less remembered. Or that their lives somehow matter less as a result of the nature of their passing. at the same time, in reading my original post again, i see where i didn’t properly communicate what i meant. It is not that I think people like Michael Jackson, Whitney Houston, and DJ Screw don’t deserve to be included here or in our hearts and memories AT ALL; my point was that i don’t think they should have been named alongside Dilla and Yauch in the same sentence because it creates what I feel is a false equivalency.

    @upabovemyhead…sis, apparently my comment WAS a little up above your head. read what i wrote: “not to say that alcoholism and substance abuse aren’t serious issues that plague our communities and need to be treated with urgency and CARE.” you go on to write that with substance abuse deaths, “there will always be the question of “what would they have been able to give if they had been able to come out from behind the burden of their addiction?” this seems to reveal a rather selfish point of view; what they could offer you or the world ARTISTS, rather than what they could have lived, shared, and offered to themselves, their families, and their loved ones as PEOPLE. Death doesn’t become tragic because we’ll never get to hear another great album, see another movie, read another book, or view another painting from X, Y, or Z artist. a comment like yours trivializes why we mourn and honor the dead to begin with. Death is life deprived, and it is tragic unto itself.

    @Anonymous…conscious or subconscious, these are still “choices” and “decisions” as you yourself acknowledge. that was basically my point.

    and @davey, you’re certainly right about the lifestyle that the Beasties led in their younger years. and you’re absolutely correct in that decisions we make very often do take a toll and contribute to subsequent health issues. no argument there, and yes to the extent that we are all the cumulative baggage of our past choices and decisions, that is an area where some of these distinctions can blur.

    however, i tend to think that it is you, not i, who demonstrates weakness in confusing my point here as some lack of compassion. there’s no shame that i would object to the names of the dearly departed being lumped together; i object solely to the manner in which your own paragraph itself hastily and rather ignorantly equates the circumstances of a drug overdose death to those of people who were killed by a disease. you yourself categorized those who died from violent deaths in a separate paragraph of its own. i would assert that deaths resulting directly from substance abuse should likewise have been categorized apart as well. in the end, no disrespect, but perhaps the major flaw that immediately struck me when i read this is that the namedropping portion of your piece is poorly written. i didn’t explain the full context of my point of view in my original comment, but at root that is all i take issue with. that being said, i do realize that my own initial reply itself was also flawed and poorly written in that what i left OUT opened up a misunderstanding here on this comment section. for my part, i apologize for that and hope that at this point i may have better clarified where i was coming from.

    we’re certainly in agreement that no one deserves to die so young, and it is always a tragedy at any age. nothing i have written above should be construed as asserting anything to the contrary.

    pz

    • tto, honey, you are SO not a mindreader. my only thought was to what was lost to their world on a 360 degree level. what they might have given me, as a fan, didn’t even cross my mind.with me personally, your attempts at insight overshot the mark – you might learn something from that about assumptions. i’m not bothering to read the rest of your reply – as i’ve said, i’m caring for a sick loved one right now. we all deserve compassion, whether we smoked tobacco, or crack, or simply trustingly drank diet sodas and exposed ourselves to fumes in nail salons. and our deaths at young ages are a modern day version of smallpox blankets, if you ask me. but maybe thats another subject.

  13. upabovemyhead, sugar, i wasn’t attempting to read your mind or assume anything about you. i was responding to what you explicitly published, but if you say that wasn’t what you meant then i take you at your word. still, it is ironic that you are quick to tell me that i might learn something here about assumptions when the whole premise of your initial reply calling me out came in the manner of an assumption as well:

    “so – do some peoole deserve more honor after death than others? in the beginnings of the HIV epidemic, the first question was always “how did s/he get it? was it a blood transfusion (innocent victim)? or was it sex or needles (not deserving of the same sympathy or care)? this sounds like a version of the same thing.”

    your whole point in responding to me directly was because you assumed i lack compassion for people and suspected that i somehow judge people to be more or less deserving of “honor after death” according to the ultimate cause of their death.

    you’ve also just admitted that you’re choosing to selectively read what i have written here on this subject. if you had truly read the whole of the message that you initially responded to me about, then there wouldn’t have been any reason for you to compare my viewpoint as somehow being a “version of the same thing” as people who in the beginnings of the HIV epidemic may have felt that AIDS related deaths caused by behaviors such as sex needle sharing rather than innocent victimization were “not deserving of the same sympathy or care.”

    c’mon yo, before you even made that presumption i had already written specifically to that point, clarifying that even though i may indeed be pointing out a distinction about deaths caused by reckless behavior it was “not to say that alcoholism and substance abuse aren’t serious issues that plague our communities and need to be treated with urgency and CARE.” if you had bothered to internalize that statement with an honest mind, then why would you have ever gone there with me in the first place? likewise, if you’re not willing to read the rest of what i wrote in my previous response then it’s evident that you’re not really interested in understanding what i was talking about anyway. a conversation of that type doesn’t really have any integrity so i’m done with it at this point as well.

    other than that, i wish the best to you and your mother.

    • TTo – my initial post here wasn’t even addressed to you. I was just pointing out that we all deserve compassion, and that many of us are dying too young, whether artists or not, and those losses are immeasurable, really. wuth diabetes our kids are looking at even shorter lifespans. you addressed me personally, saying that i was selfish, and i felt a need to correct that misunderstanding. i’m too tired to read – or write – any more, COMPASSION. that was my only point.

  14. Chris McCoy says:

    Davey D, I appreciate you putting in a word about DJ Kuttin Kandi, who is a leader in the hip hop community and an educator/activist at UC San Diego. I had not heard about her situation until I read about it on your blog. Thank you for keeping us well informed!

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