Friday, May 4, 2012

R.I.P. MCA: thoughts from Kanye and Tony Clifton to Bon Jovi and Vertov

Posted By on Fri, May 4, 2012 at 7:10 PM

While Adam Yauch (AKA MCA) will be remembered first and foremost as the as the gravelly one whose rumbling flow lent gravitas to the helium-voiced tandem of Ad Rock and Mike D, and next for his activism raising awareness about the state of Tibet, we should not overlook MCA's legacy as a filmmaker, producer, and entrepreneur.

At first, MCA's directing credits appeared under the Tony Cliftonesque monicker to alter ego Nathanial Hörnblowér. Here is an early interview with him in character:

Years before Kanye did it, MCA (as Nathanial Hörnblowér) stormed the MTV Music Video Awards stage in protest:

What started as a joke, evolved into a legitimate voice for MCA. As Nathanial Hörnblowér...

.. MCA directed some of the Beastie Boys most memorable videos, including "Shake Your Rump", "Looking Down the Barrel of a Gun", "Body Movin'", "So What'cha Want", "Shadrach", "Three MC's & One DJ", "Pass the Mic", "Holy Snappers", "The Robot vs. the Octopus Monster Saga" and "Alive".)

He also oversaw what is, in my humble opinion, the greatest concert film ever: Awesome, I Fuckin' Shot That put 50 Hi8 cameras in the hands of the fans for a hometown show at MSG. (Bon Jovi did it first with Sam Kinnison handing out cameras for the "Bad Medicine" video, but did they get a shot of Ben Stiller rapping?).

The miracle is not the footage itself, but rather in the way MCA assembled it.

Rather than coming across as a stunt, the resulting film is an absolute masterpiece: a staggering, frenetic, varied, magical visual smörgåsbord, an epic display of montage that would make Dziga Vertov's head spin.

This sequence features an amazing live performance—itself an ingenious medley mash-up that showcases the Boys' virtuoso vocal dexterity, mic control, and ability to engage the audience, backed by the mesmerizing skillz of Mixmaster Mike on the turntables.

The resulting film matches them beat for beat.

No other concert film comes as close to capturing the anything-can-happen essence of a live performance.

Lastly, Yauch should be celebrated for his role as a distributor. He formed the company Oscilloscope, which released such films as We Need to Talk About Kevin, Meek's Cutoff, and the Oscar nominated doc If a Tree Falls, to name a few.

His death is a true loss for the world and music, and film.

Bonus: Thanks Onion, for the levity: "Following Death Of Adam Yauch, Grieving China Frees Tibet."

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