Adam Yauch
By: Tom Nealon | Categories: Cuspers, HiLo Heroes, Hip Hop, Music

ADAM YAUCH (aka M.C.A., born 1964) serves as the centering, stabilizing influence at the center of the tsunami of the sophomoric that is The Beastie Boys. Sort of. When Licensed to Ill came out, we were enthralled. It was the only thing that my entire high school ever had in common — blacks, whites, Jews and Gentiles, boys and girls, the Doc Marten kids in their Clash shirts and the docksider set in their pink polos with the collars turned up against the gentle winds of privilege. Everyone was together, however briefly, in their unadorned love of this flawed, childish, single-mindedly perfect album. (And it didn’t hurt that they were following up “Cookiepuss” — a local icon. Carvel played such an inexplicably large role in regional culture that our high school’s most popular band’s signature tune was a hardcore version of the Carvel theme song.) Generally though, we’ve all not grown up together; and this is what is most comforting about The Beastie Boys: like ours, their edits, additions, and subtractions (Yauch has embraced Buddhism, directing, and even a beard) have been largely decorative, superficial. With certain exceptions. Although they once sang “M.C.A.’s in the back because he’s skeezin’ with a whore,” now when the Beasties play “No Sleep till Brooklyn” live it’s “M.C.A.’s in the back at the Mahjong hall.”


HIP HOP ON HILOBROW: HERC YOUR ENTHUSIASM series (25 posts about old-school hip hop) | DJ Kool Herc as HiLo Hero | Gil Scott-Heron as HiLo Hero | Slick Rick as HiLo Hero | Darryl “D.M.C.” McDaniels as HiLo Hero | Afrika Bambaataa as HiLo Hero | Biz Markie as HiLo Hero | Eric B as HiLo Hero (forthcoming in November) | U-God as HiLo Hero | Slug as HiLo Hero | Adam Yauch as HiLo Hero | Ghostface Killah as HiLo Hero | DJ Run as HiLo Hero | Flavor Flav as HiLo Hero | Scott La Rock as HiLo Hero | GZA as HiLo Hero | Schoolly D as HiLo Hero | Aesop Rock as HiLo Hero | Notorious B.I.G. as HiLo Hero | Melle Mel as HiLo Hero | Rick Rubin as HiLo Hero | Rakim as HiLo Hero | Ol’ Dirty Bastard as HiLo Hero | Madlib as HiLo Hero | Talib Kweli as HiLo Hero | Danger Mouse as HiLo Hero | Kool Moe Dee as HiLo Hero | Chuck D as HiLo Hero | Dizzee Rascal as HiLo Hero | RZA as HiLo Hero | Cee-Lo Green as HiLo Hero | Best Ever Clean Hip Hop

On his or her birthday, HiLobrow irregularly pays tribute to one of our high-, low-, no-, or hilobrow heroes. Also born this date: Neil Armstrong and Wendell Berry.

READ MORE about men and women born on the cusp between the Original Generation X (1954-63) and the Reconstructionist Generation (1964-73).



Tom Nealon runs the online rare bookshop Pazzo Books specializing in early printed books, cookery and literature. In his spare time he works on barbecue techniques in the test pit in his backyard. He can be found at and @pazzobooks on twitter.