Adam Yauch Gave Distinct Sound To Genre-Bending Band

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A famous trio has lost a founding member. Musician Adam "MCA" Yauch died Friday of cancer. Host Scott Simon has this remembrance of one of the founding members of The Beastie Boys, a band that helped make hip-hop mainstream.


A famous trio has lost a member. Whether you knew him as Adam Yauch, Nathanial Hornblower or MCA, he brought a distinct sound to a genre-bending band.


BEASTIE BOYS: (Singing) ...if what you get is what you see, c'mon...

SIMON: MCA was a founding member of the Beastie Boys, a band that helped make hip-hop mainstream. Now, before they rapped, the Beastie Boys were just punks.


SIMON: Then came "Cooky Puss," a song on an album whose title you won't hear on this program - with lyrics that we shouldn't play, either.


BEASTIE BOYS: Yo, I said I'm calling you late...

SIMON: But it sure got noticed. Rick Rubin is a producer who helped launch the Beastie Boys. And last year, he told WEEKEND EDITION he remembers the song as...

RICK RUBIN: A spoof on hip-hop. I don't think they were actually rapping on it. It was more just the phony phone call and the hip-hop beat. But it had a hip-hop sensibility about it.

SIMON: And the band began to change course. Here's MCA on "Charlie Rose" in 2007.


ADAM 'MCA' YAUCH: I kind of remember a friend of mine saying, like, you guys should make a rap record. You know, because we were already making punk records. We were a punk band. And I kind of thought, that's crazy.


SIMON: But it stuck, and it sold. The Beastie Boys had the first hip-hop album to go to the top of the charts. Besides rapping, MCA brought another distinct sound to the Beasties - the bass guitar.


SIMON: Adam "MCA" Yauch died yesterday of cancer. He was 47. Earlier this year, the Beastie Boys were inducted to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and the ceremony will be replayed on HBO tonight.


SIMON: This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Scott Simon.

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