dam "MCA" Yauch, one of the founding members of the pioneering rap group Beastie Boys, died Friday at age 47, succumbing to a long battle with cancer. Along with his bandmates, Yauch was "responsible for rap's first big move from the New York streets to the manicured lawns of American suburbs," says Christopher R. Weingarten at SPIN. His death at such a young age hits especially hard, says Kyle Buchanan at New York, as Yauch "managed to pack that short lifetime with so many indelible accomplishments": Grammy Awards, a Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction, and more. Among Yauch and the Boys' most celebrated contributions are their innovative, ground-breaking music videos, several of which Yauch directed himself under the pseudonym Nathaniel Hornblower. As fans and the music industry mourn Yauch's death, here's a look back at some of the Beastie Boys' most iconic music videos:
1. "(You Gotta) Fight For Your Right (To Party)" (1987)
Much of the Beastie Boys' early success can be pegged to Yauch's "swarthy, punk-centric raps," says Weingarten. His iconic delivery had a "Schooly-schooled swagger" that sounded revolutionary over the group's rock riffs, helping launch the monstrous success of their 1986 debut Licensed to Ill, which moved over 9 million copies and made the Beastie Boys the first rap group to top the Billboard charts. The "rowdy, randy music video" for their banner single, "(You Gotta) Fight For Your Right (To Party)" became an instant MTV classic.
2. "Sabotage" (1994)
"Sabotage" may be "the most acclaimed music video the boys ever did," says Josh Grossberg at E! Online. Directed by frequent collaborator and soon-to-be acclaimed film director Spike Jonze (Adaptation, Where the Wild Things Are), the video both paid homage to and spoofed kitschy '70s crime series like Hawaii Five-O and Starsky and Hutch. Last year, TIME placed the clip on its list of the 30 all-time best music videos, hailing its "mischievous humor and anarchic energy."
3. "Intergalactic" (1998)
Yauch/Hornblower was behind the lens for "Intergalactic," a parody of Japanese sci-fi films complete with glaringly cheesy effects and a giant, lumbering robot. The song gave the Boys their first Top 40 hit of the decade and the video featured what would become the group's signature: Fisheye camerawork interspliced with "footage of them getting down on various city streets and subway stations," says Grossberg.
4. "Make Some Noise" (2011)
2011's "Make Some Noise" served as a sequel of sorts to "Fight For Your Right," featuring an endless line of celebrity cameos from the likes of Seth Rogen, Elijah Wood, and Kirsten Dunst. Yauch directed the video, as well as the 30-minute short-film version of it. Though the Boys first hit the scene with "snotty, party hardy attitudes," says Gil Kaufman at MTV, Yauch emerged as "the most centered and serious member of the group." He became an activist on behalf of the Tibetan people, a practicing Buddhist, and founded the film company Oscilloscope Laboratories, which distributed indie features including We Need to Talk About Kevin and the Banksy documentary Exit Through the Gift Shop.
5. "Don't Play No Game That I Can't Win" (2011)
Last summer, the Beastie Boys reunited with Spike Jonze for the "epic" 11-minute clip for "Don't Play No Game That I Can't Win," a single off their album Hot Sauce Committee, Pt. II, which was delayed numerous times because of Yauch's cancer treatments. The typically cheeky video spoofs the dialogue and violence of spy films. The twist: The assassination-themed plot is played out by action figures, and no attempt is made to hide the wires and hands guiding the toys. It's "basically the most deranged Saturday morning kids show we've ever seen," says Becky Bain at Idolator. "We love it."
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- 31 TV shows to watch in 2014
- Attack of the invasive species
- Why atheism doesn't have the upper hand over religion
- He said he was leaving. She ignored him.
- 14 wonderful words with no English equivalent
- What would a U.S.-Russia war look like?
- How Captain America won over China
- Which states get screwed worst by the Electoral College?
- These stunning travel photos remind us that we're all just amateurs with iPhones
- If a nuclear bomb exploded in downtown Washington, what should you do?
Subscribe to the Week