Adam Yauch (aka MCA) of the groundbreaking hip-hop trio the Beastie Boys has been reported dead at the age of 47. While the cause has yet to be confirmed, he had announced in 2009 that he was being treated for cancer, and hadn't performed live since that summer.
Originally, the Beastie Boys were closer to a hardcore punk band, but they quickly became one of the biggest and most important early hip-hop acts.
Their 1986 debut License To Ill not only made history as the first rap album to top the Billboard Hot 200 chart, but also broke ground as the first major album to successfully bridge the rock and hip-hop worlds. Few acts since then have been as successful at that crossover, which is a testament to just how seriously they took the art form (despite their often humourous lyrics). For example, the only way they would agree to be on NOW's cover in 1994 was if NOW writer and hardcore record collector Tim Perlich would take them record shopping in Toronto.
When they first appeared on the scene they came across as young brats, making them perfect for any kid of the 80s discovering hip-hop and looking for something to annoy their parents with. It didn't take long for them to reinvent themselves though, and soon became known as some of the most creative talents in the game, often making creative choices that would keep them off the charts while solidifying their status as serious artists.
Their 2011 album Hot Sauce Committee Part Two found them still in top form, proving that despite the grey hair they could still rock the mic with the best of them.
Yauch is survived by his wife and daughter, and will be greatly missed.