Adam Yauch: A Mensch in the World to Come
In his will, late Beastie Boy “MCA” prohibits use of his songs in commercials
Posthumous stories about celebrities are rarely more than just vapid bits of dish or journalistic acts of bathos, but at the risk of binary sin, I stumbled across a story about Adam Yauch—better known as MCA from the the Beastie Boys—that I thought worthy of mention.
According to DNAInfo, Yauch’s will bans the use of his music and images in advertisements, which frequently happens in the case of deceased artists and musicians.
The pioneering rapper, whose real name is Adam Yauch, instructed in his will that his image, music and any art he created could not be used for advertising, saving himself from the fate of other deceased musicians whose faces and songs have become corporate shills.
Yauch’s will, filed Tuesday in Manhattan Surrogate Court, says the Brooklyn native’s entire fortune of $6.4 million should be placed in a trust for his wife, Dechen Yauch, and their 13-year-old daughter. It also says Dechen has the right to sell and manage his artistic property.
One of Yauch’s better-known (but perhaps less appreciated) qualities was his fealty to his principles. As David Samuels wrote for Tablet back in May in one of the only honest tributes in an ocean of false self-reference:
What I want said here is that Adam Yauch was a rare mensch in a world populated by natural-born assholes and egomaniacs and by people who are high or scared or both. I don’t mean to suggest that he wasn’t one of Brooklyn’s finest white rappers and a city kid to the core. But rap music will survive his death. What has been lost is a model of how to live as a humble yet active and entirely responsible citizen of the world and also, at the same time, as a rock star, which is something that few human beings have the emotional capacity—including the knowledge of their own uniqueness and also the tolerance for their own limitations, and the limitations of others—to manage.
Considering the gobs of cash that companies can throw around to co-opt an artist’s sound or work to help brand their stuff, this story in a lot of ways confirms how consistent and intact Yauch’s soul is.
Daily rate: $2
Monthly rate: $18
Yearly rate: $180
WAIT, WHY DO I HAVE TO PAY TO COMMENT?
Tablet is committed to bringing you the best, smartest, most enlightening and entertaining reporting and writing on Jewish life, all free of charge. We take pride in our community of readers, and are thrilled that you choose to engage with us in a way that is both thoughtful and thought-provoking. But the Internet, for all of its wonders, poses challenges to civilized and constructive discussion, allowing vocal—and, often, anonymous—minorities to drag it down with invective (and worse). Starting today, then, we are asking people who'd like to post comments on the site to pay a nominal fee—less a paywall than a gesture of your own commitment to the cause of great conversation. All proceeds go to helping us bring you the ambitious journalism that brought you here in the first place.
I NEED TO BE HEARD! BUT I DONT WANT TO PAY.
Readers can still interact with us free of charge via Facebook, Twitter, and our other social media channels, or write to us at email@example.com. Each week, we’ll select the best letters and publish them in a new letters to the editor feature on the Scroll.
We hope this new largely symbolic measure will help us create a more pleasant and cultivated environment for all of our readers, and, as always, we thank you deeply for your support.