“When we first met MCA and the Beastie Boys back in the early ‘80s it was almost like we were in a movie. These guys were outrageous, spontaneous, funny, loud, confident…they were so real. We thought MCA, Ad-Rock, and Mike D were some of the coolest cats on the face of the earth. It was just their energy. The Beasties didn’t care. They would dress up in the sweat suits [laughs]. They had the whole rebellious thing of, ‘We are who we are.’ It was the same feeling that hip-hop had. MCA and them wanted to be unique. It was like that for all of us, including Run-D.M.C. We wanted to standout; we wanted to have fun. And although the Beasties were punk rock, they were still able to be hip-hop. They weren’t white rappers trying to be black. They weren’t rapping about Cadillac’s and 40 ounces. They didn’t where the fat gold chains and the Godfather hats like Run-D.M.C. and Jam Master Jay did. We thought we were crazy, but MCA and those guys were crazy with their sneakers, their leather jackets, their Budweiser beer and all the stuff they did. Real recognizes real.
The Beastie Boys were giving the same feeling of hip-hop, but with a different expression. And MCA was an important part of that. His voice was incredible. It was deep, rugged, it was powerful and it demanded authority. MCA’s voice was like the flipside to Chuck D’s voice! When you listened to a Beastie Boys record, he made you say, ‘Who is this guy?’ Because Ad-Rock and Mike D had great voices, too. But they had a crazy twang and higher pitch to their sound. MCA’s voice was the father figure of the group. When you listen to the Beasties, MCA’s voice basically told everybody, ‘Y’all can think we are a joke all you want, but we are real with what we do.’
I remember touring with MCA and the Beasties on Run-D.M.C.’s Raising Hell Tour and the one we co-headlined with them, The Together Forever tour. There is one story about MCA that I always mention. I remember we were touring in Europe and the stage had gotten really wet because they were throwing beer around all over the place. So we are on the side watching the Beastie Boys’ show thinking, ‘Yo, somebody is going to bust their ass tonight.’ Sure enough, MCA slipped and flew about 20 feet in the air [laughs]. He came down real hard. We all thought he was severely hurt. We were like, ‘Yo, call the ambulance!’ But this motherfucka just gets up and keeps rapping! We were shocked. That’s the type of performer MCA was.
What is MCA’s legacy? It’s the legacy of the Beastie Boys. MCA is from a legendary group that helped change music. You can’t talk about Eminem without talking about the Beasties first. The Beastie Boys made it possible for not just Eminem to have the courage to do hip-hop, he also made it possible for Vanilla Ice, 3rd Bass, and for any white guy to pick up the mic and be accepted. They are true pioneers. And not just white rappers…black rappers should bow down to them. Because the Beastie Boys accomplished so much for the entire hip-hop culture. These rappers nowadays can’t even approach what they did. They will never do what the Beastie Boys did. They changed the world. Run-D.M.C. will always be connected with them. We traveled the world together. We laughed together, we slept in the same rooms together, we cried together, we got drunk together…we changed history together.
It’s a sad day for music, a sad day for MCA’s family and friends, and a sad day for hip-hop. But it’s all good because at least we got some Beastie Boys records we can go listen to tomorrow.—As told to Keith Murphy (@murphdogg29)