For real folks, how couldn't we be fans of the guys of Das Racist? They have only gotten better over the years, they're not only all about throwing down and being outrageous, and they work with some of our favorite artists from across the genre-sphere. They have also paved a way for themselves more or less on their own with a pair of successful and free albums…err, mixtapes.
With all of that in mind, we would be pretty hard-pressed to not have a strong interest in their proper debut, Relax, which drops Sept. 13. If nothing else, we're excited to find out just how they can transition from the land of free projects to putting out a tangible product. That move has been (critically) deadly to some artists who have thrived in the land of mixtapes -- Wale, B.o.B, etc… -- but we're confident Das Racist can handle it. And here are five reasons we think so.
They're a hell of a lot of fun
Simply put, Das Racist brings the fun back to hip-hop, a genre that more often than not is made for mean-mugging and shit-talking than, you know, having a good time. Plenty of rappers might make their own "feel-good" anthems and place one or two on an album or mixtape, but for the most part, it's about being tough and staying that way. And while Das Racist might spit some braggadocio-laced bars throughout their tapes, they're not stuck on doing just that.
I mean, they did land a minor hit with a fucking song called "Combination Pizza Hut and Taco Bell," which would later land on their debut project, Shut Up, Dude. The tape also featured such oddball, grin-inducing tracks as "Fake Patois" and "One Dollar Can," the latter being a ridiculous send-up of Bob Marley's "One Drop." And Das Racist's lead single from Relax, "Michael Jackson"? Shit's insane. The caffeine-fueled hook of "MICHAEL JACKSON…A MILLION DOLLARS…YOU FEEL ME?…HOLLER" is equally ridiculous and catchy. It's also probably a shitload of fun to shout along to while Das Racist tears through the track in concert.
But they're not just a hell of a lot of fun
The whole funny thing makes Das Racist's music much deeper than most people might realize. It allows them to tackle harder issues associated with racism without sounding whiny or preachy, which, if you think about it, is no easy feat. Just think about it: how many rappers have we all pigeonholed for being "socially conscious" when they approach topics like race and poverty with an overtly serious tone? Exactly.
Das Racist's Heems and Kool A.D., on the other hand, accomplish looking at race without being abrasive. They use humor and swagger as their vehicle, particularly on "Puerto Rican Cousins." Along with being superbly entertaining, the track takes aim at the concept of white folks thinking that Heems and Kool look like, well, Puerto Rican cousins. (Just so you know, Heems is Indian-American while Kool is of Afro-Cuban/Italian descent.) Sure, they might not want to be heralded as game-changers on the front of societal criticisms, but they're certainly capable of doing so while also injecting plenty of humor into their message. You know, kind of like less nerdy versions of MF DOOM and Deltron 3030.
They're better rappers than people give them credit for
My aforementioned point about Das Racist being goofballs leads me to this point. A lot of tongue-in-cheek, sometimes-hilarious MCs haven't exactly been taken seriously as artists. Personally, I know more than enough people who listen to the Beastie Boys only because they're "fun." And they then don't cite the fact that the Beasties are indeed talented rappers who just so happen to really enjoy having a good time on the microphone.
Aside from the aforementioned note that they speak on larger issues at hand, these guys' flows are so fluid and one-with-the-beat that some folks might deem them lazy. But to that, I say: have you heard "Swate" or Sit Down, Man's "Rooftop"? Both are absolutely massive and feature Heems and Kool A.D. straight spittin'. Aside from that, their knack for humor gives way to more than just a few quotables per track. "White people love me like they love Suburus"; "Call me Dwight Schrute the way that I eat beats"; "See me like it's fuckin' up your eyes, blepharoplasty/Wikipedia that, if you didn't know"; "You ain't funny, you Robin Williams, you got me all mad/If you doubt I spit fire you probably a drag/Mrs. Doubtfire, you probably all sad"; and so on.
They're part of a bigger hip-hop movement in NYC
While some mainstream New York City rap acts are stuck on trying to keep up with the South, there are numerous rappers dwelling within the various layers of the underground who are pushing the boundaries of the genre. You have your Action Bronsons and your Maffew Ragazinos making a case for tried-and-true, Wu-Tang-esque boom-bap. Then you have a sizzurp-drinking dude like ASAP Rocky who sounds as far removed from New York as it gets.
And then, you have forward-thinkers like El-P, Despot, and Das Racist, all three of whom don't mind working together either. You might remember that El Producto spit one of 2010's best verses when he went into straight beast mode on "Sit Down, Man" off the tape of the same name. While El's been steadily proving his chops as both a producer and an MC over the years, it seems to us that his work with Das Racist and other new(ish) acts has pushed him to excel. It pushes them to succeed, too, and, with any luck, New York City hip-hop can have its mini-rebirth.
They're consistent and proving their worth
As any music fan or writer knows full well, consistency is a difficult thing to attain for an artist or group. And yes, Das Racist has only put out three projects to date, but far more acts have come out of nowhere, dropped a killer mixtape, and BAM, they're gone. Not these guys. Hell, if anything, they have gotten better with every subsequent release. Since debuting with the freewheeling antics of "Combination Pizza Hut and Taco Bell," they have found their collective voice as rappers and songwriters. They still like to do the off-the-walls approach to crafting tracks every so often, but that hasn't slowed down their growth.
While both Shut Up, Dude and Sit Down, Man displayed an impressive increase in skills and, in a way, maturity, Relax does that and then some. The beats are wildly innovative and come from the likes of El-P, Diplo, and Yeasayer's Anand Wilder. The raps are equal parts weeded bullshitting, razor-sharp wit, and tough-guy battle raps. And, perhaps most importantly, the album doesn't over stay its welcome. At a mere 14 tracks and 50 minutes running time, Relax is easy to digest, hella fun to listen to, and has replay value for days. Just imagine what they'll do next.