For a good time, call Das Racist. Their new mixtape, Sit Down, Man
, is hands down the most entertaining listen of the year. But to dismiss them as mere entertainment would be a serious injustice.
After breaking through with last years hilariously mind-numbing "Combination Pizza Hut and Taco Bell," in which our heroes Himanshu Suri and Victor Vasquezz wander around the aforementioned location ostensibly high and on their cell phones looking for each other, it would've been easy to think Das Racist was a novelty act, sort of a hip-hop Harold and Kumar. But they followed with the fine collection, Shut Up, Dude
and more great tunes like "Chicken and Meat."
As they say in "Rapping 2 u," "They called us joke rap...we don't even need rap/Get a real job only rap weekly/I don't need rap I told you rap need me." Whether they're needed or not, it's certainly fun having them around, just for the name-check quotient alone. There are shout-outs here to Grace Kelly, ("Grace like Kelly, tastes like jelly") Brendan Fraser, ("Caviar in my tummy, Brendan Fraser in The Mummy") as well as Doogie Howser, Leslie Nielson and Pat Sajak. In short, some of the whitest people of all time.
It's the tension between black, white and brown, that Das Racist use to their greatest advantage. Jay Z's "All Black Everything" line is turned into "All Tan Everything." On "Puerto Rican Cousins," they transform Sister Sledge's girl power anthem to suit their multi-culti needs. "We are family/At least that's what we look like we might be."
On "hahahaha jk?," Das Racist proclaim, "We not racist, we love white people/Ford trucks, apple pies, bald eagles.." That song's refrain, "We're not joking/Just joking we are joking/Just joking we're not joking," perfectly lays out the Das Racist point of view. Though their tunes have a comic veneer, there's real anger underneath. But Vasquezz and Suri would never stoop to convey that in a pedestrian manner. They're not preachy or pretentious and they have a real affection for their targets. It's kind of like Paul Mooney's Negrodamus sketch on the Dave Chappelle show where he says "White people love Wayne Brady because he makes Bryant Gumbel look like Malcolm X." It's a very funny observation, but the specifics of what make it true are quite serious.
This twenty tune mixtape has almost as many producers as songs, and at 80-plus minutes this can lead to a bit of overload. Das Racist are versatile in the extreme. Styles range from the chilled jazz grooves of "Town Business," produced by Kassa Overall, to the Glo-fi synths of the Teengirl Fantasy-helmed "Commercial," and the Public Enemy-influenced, ominous cut-up distortions of "Rooftop," from Dame Grease. There are a few tunes that don't work here, like Devo Springsteen's "People Are Strange," which heavily samples The Doors song of the same name. It sounds like a great idea, but it just doesn't work and the rhymes are a little thin.
People make the comparison to Beastie Boys, but Das Racist are much more reminiscent of De La Soul and their hip-hop classic, 1989's 3 Feet High and Rising
. Shut Up, Dude
, feels like a similar party, full of funny, smart people. It's a clubhouse, complete with a door password and a secret handshake. Bonus points for a triple word score. Who doesn't want to be a part of that?
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MP3: "hahahaha jk?"
Das Racist on Myspace