Das Racist exists in a climate where emerging rap crews are picked up and sucked dry overnight, but that kind of success doesn’t interest these guys. Still unsigned, they’ve been on their grind for three years now and they’ve got a range of floors to sleep on all over the country to prove it. Unless they’ve been kicked out of a venue, they’re loved wherever they go, and Seattle is no exception.
After spending a year defending their 2008 throwaway single “Combination Pizza Hut and Taco Bell” against the no-fun critical establishment, Das Racist caught their stride. The Brooklyn duo officially recruited a hype man and released two free mix tapes through Mishka by 2010. Their debut, Shut Up, Dude, gives Billy Joel the chipmunk treatment and screws Charlie Brown down to a crawl. By their late-year follow-up Sit Down, Man, they’d captured the attention of heavy weights in the indie-electro and hip-hop underground. Beats by Diplo, Teengirl Fantasy, and fellow Wesleyan alums Chairlift ground the tracks, which boast guest verses from Lakutis and Def Jux founder El-P, among others. Despite the higher profile collaborations, there’s still real looseness to the tape; it was recorded in just three weeks and released two weeks after completion.
On the recordings it’s the covertly political lyrics and offhanded delivery that stick. Almost anything is grist for their mill. The pair waxes ironic on the highest and lowest brow. Pop-culture obsessed and divisive by default, they present an open challenge: be informed or sit down. You aren’t up on Frankfurt School discourse, Dipset mix tapes, or Guru Dutt’s cinema? Get on it, or you won’t get the jokes. But let’s clear the air here, because there’s apparently been some confusion on the issue—Das Racist is the real thing. I’m not saying they don’t relish the power of a dumb joke, or that they hesitate before swerving verses off towards some non-verbal Dada gibberish. They just don’t spend as much time in some tired liberal arts sandbox as their critics do.
Victor Vazquez, Himanshu Suri, Ashok Kondabolu