Adam Yauch, co-founder and rapper of The Beastie Boys, has passed away at the age of 47.

The publicist for the Beastie Boys' confirmed that Yauch, recognized through his stage name MCA, died after a three-year battle with cancer.

Yauch founded the Beastie Boys on his 17th birthday in 1979 with Mike D (Michael Diamond) and Ad Rock (Adam Horovitz). What originally started as a hardcore punk band transitioned into a hip-hop band. Together, the Beastie Boys released eight studio albums, including the genre-defining "Paul's Boutique." Their most recent album, "The Hot Sauce Committee Part Two" was released in May 2011.

In addition to being a member of the seminal rap group, Yauch was also a filmmaker, directing many of Beastie's videos under the name Nathanial Hornblower. Some of the video Hornblower directed include "Intergalactic" and "So What'cha Want." In 1994, Hornblower stormed the stage of the 1994 MTV Video Music Awards when Spike Jonze was denied the best directing prize for "Sabotage."

He also co-founded the film distribution and production company Oscilloscope Laboratories that distributed his feature length directorial debut "Gunnin' For that #1 Spot." Some Oscilloscope Lab films included "Meek's Cutoff," "We Need to Talk about Kevin" and the Academy Award-nominated "If A Tree Falls: A Story of the Earth Liberation Front."

Yauch was a practicing Buddhist who fought for Tibet. Yauch helped organized the Tibetan Freedom Concert, a series of rock shows aimed at raising money and awareness for Tibetan independence. Yauch founded the Milarepa Fund in 1994 initially to give royalties to Buddhist monks who appeared on the song "Shambala" and "Bodhisattva Vow" from the album "Ill Communication."

Yauch is survived by his wife Dechen and his daughter Tenzin Losel, as well as his parents Frances and Noel Yauch.