Adam Yauch, a.k.a. MCA from the Beastie Boys, died two years ago of complications from salivary gland cancer, but celebrations of his life and work still continue. May 3 was MCA Day, an annual celebration of Yauch’s music, film work, and humanitarian efforts. To celebrate and promote awareness of the event, a quartet of men dressed as Buddhist monks marched to the center of New York’s Union Square and performed an elaborate breakdancing set to “Ch-Check It Out,” the first single off of the Beastie Boys’s 2004 album To The 5 Boroughs.
It’s unclear whether the dancers—listed on the video as Bobby Selby, Jaehyuk Choi, Christopher Groelle, and Stephen Cho—are actual practicing Buddhists, let alone monks. Given the video’s production for MCA Day by New York advertising firm Knarf NY, the latter, at least, seems unlikely. It’s even less clear whether Yauch, a longtime devout Buddhist and supporter of Tibetan independence, would have appreciated this use of Buddhist culture in his name, but oh shit, that guy just spun around on his head! Awesome.
All considerations of cultural appropriation aside, the clip showcases some pretty good dancing to a pretty good song in celebration of someone who was, by all accounts, a pretty good guy. And if ignoring the weird racial/cultural edges of a piece of art in order to focus on its actual, generally above average quality doesn't capture the true spirit of the Beastie Boys, then what does?