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In a letter from Yauch read by fellow Beastie Adam "Ad-Rock" Horovitz at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction, Yauch recalled their early days at his parents' home in Brooklyn, "where we used to practice on hot Brooklyn summer days after school, windows open to disturb the neighborhood."
The group became a hip-hop trio soon after Horovitz joined and coalesced after Yauch dropped out of Bard College two years into his studies. They released their chart-topping debut "Licensed to Ill" in 1986, a raucous album led by the anthem "(You Gotta) Fight for Your Right (To Party!)". It was the first hip-hop album to top the Billboard chart.
"Adam was incredibly sweet and the most sensitive artist, who I loved dearly," Russell Simmons, whose Def Jam label released "Licensed to Ill," said on his website.
In the seven studio albums that followed, the Beastie Boys expanded sonically and grew more musically ambitious.
Their follow-up, 1989's "Paul's Boutique," ended any suggestion that the group was a one-hit wonder. Extreme in its sampling and thoroughly layered, the album (produced by the Dust Brothers) was ranked the 156th greatest album ever by Rolling Stone magazine in 2003.
The Beastie Boys would later take up their own instruments — a rarity in hip-hop — on the album "Check Your Head" and subsequent releases. Yauch played bass.
On "Pass the Mic," he rapped: "If you can feel what I'm feeling then it's a musical masterpiece / If you can hear what I'm dealing with then that's cool at least / What's running through my mind comes through in my walk / True feelings are shown from the way that I talk."
For many, the Beastie Boys' lyrics — overflowing torrents of wit, humor and rhyme — were always the main draw. While other forms of hip-hop celebrated individualism, the Beastie Boys were a verbal tag team. Yauch once rapped, "on the tough guy style I'm not too keen."
Their popularity perhaps peaked with 1994's "Ill Communication," which spawned several of their most famous music videos, including "Sure Shot" and the Spike Jonze-directed "Sabotage" — a hit highlighted by Yauch's bass solo.
Yauch used the group's growing fame to attract awareness for Tibetan Buddists. He founded the Milarepa Fund to promote activism for Tibet in defense of what the nonprofit considered China's occupational government.Next Page >
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