Beastie Boys rapper Adam “MCA” Yauch has passed away this morning after a long battle with cancer. He was 47 years old.

The tragic news was announced by longtime friend Russell Simmons, who was the first manager of the trio and whose Def Jam label launched their 1984 breakthrough album, Licensed to Ill. Driven by the breakthrough MTV hit single, Fight For Your Right to Party, Licensed to Ill became the first hip-hop album to top the Billboard charts.

Born in Brooklyn in 1964, Yauch formed Beastie Boys in 1979 with friends Michael "Mike D" Diamond, and Adam "Ad-Rock" Horovitz. The trio are one of the most influential hip-hop groups of all time, winning multiple Grammys and who were recently inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame two weeks ago in Cleveland. Yaunch's illness prevented him from attending the induction.

In 2009, MCA announced he was being treated for a cancerous tumor in his salivary gland and as a result, delayed the release of their most recent album, Hot Sauce Committee, Pt. 2. The Beastie Boys had not performed live since the summer of 2009.

In addition to his career with the Beastie Boys, Yauch was also a filmmaker, directing many of the group's videos under the name "Nathanial Hornblower". MCA was also heavily involved in the movement to free Tibet and co-organized the Tibetan Freedom Concerts of the late Nineties. In 2002, he launched the film production company Oscilloscope Laboratories.

On Saturday, May 5, HBO will air the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame ceremony honouring the group.

Yauch is survived by his wife Dechen Wangdu and their daughter Tenzin Losel.

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