Not so long ago, we brought you a guide to all things Odd Future, hoping to explain the somewhat baffling hip hop collective. Well, in the wake of some exciting news that all three members of Das Racist are releasing solo mixtapes, we decided it’s time to give them the same treatment. Stop rolling your eyes and keep reading. The group you’ve been brushing off as a hipster joke is actually incredibly talented and startlingly prolific. It’s possible they’re also completely crazy, but they own it. So here we go: Everything you need to know about Das Racist.
Himanshu Suri aka Heems (M.C.)
Victor Vazquez aka Kool A.D. (M.C.)
Ashok Kondabolu aka Dap (hype man)
The trio is constantly repping Queens, N.Y., where Heems and Dap grew up, but the group is currently based in Brooklyn. Kool A.D. is from the Bay Area and met Heems at Weslyan University.
In 2008, the world heard “Combination Pizza Hut and Taco Bell” and mostly reacted with some variation on “WTF, that was awesome.” The lyrics to the three-minute track all go something like this: “Okay, wait… I’m at the Pizza Hut! (No, you ain’t!) / I’m at the Taco Bell! (No, I’m over here!) / I’m at the combination Pizza Hut and Taco Bell! Where you at?” It’s so stupid it’s brilliant.
Kool A.D. offered this explanation of the song to The Village Voice: “The line actually comes from an older song of mine called “I Zimbra” (it’s on myspace.com/ladieslovekoolad), and at one of our first shows, we were doing that song and then just started repeating that line over and over, and people seemed to like it, because people seem to like dumb shit. I know I like dumb shit.”
They earned friendly attention from the press, including a mention from the New York Times, and rode the hype into their first album in July 2010.
Are They Joking?
“We’re not joking / Just joking, we are joking / Just joking, we’re not joking.”
That’s the chorus to “Hahahaha Jk,” off one of Das Racist’s two 2010 mixtapes, Sit Down, Man. Along with the mixtape that came before, Shut Up, Dude, it’s proof that the guys are serious, and have serious skills. Notoriously picky reviewers Pitchfork gave the mixtapes a 7.8 and 8.7 out of 10, and named Sit Down, Man “Best New Music.” Rolling Stone, SPIN, and dozens of others agreed — these dudes can actually rap. Their lyrics are dense and carefully crafted — not too mention educated and cultured — and the flow combines ego with a healthy dose of “don’t give a fuck.”
All Tan Everything
You don’t need to see these guys or know their names to know they’re not white. Race is deeply embedded in almost everything they do, every song they write (including the track “All Tan Everything”). They’ve talked about being looked at like terrorists in their own city after 9/11, and the problems with being brown when everyone else in hip hop is black or white. Listen to their lyrics, and you can’t miss it.
“Shut Up, Man”: They say I act white, but sound black / But act black, but sound white / But what’s my sound bite supposed to sound like?
“Sit Down, Man”: White people, play this for your black friends / Black people, smack them.”
“Puerto Rican Cousins”: We are family / At least that’s what we look like we might be.
But Sometimes, They Are Joking
Here’s a small sampling of Das Racist shenanigans.
They made an 8 bit video game to accompany the song “Who’s That? Brooown!” It involves dodging Indian girls who want to marry you, beating back “yuppie gentrifiers” to get on the 7 train, and skiing with Robert Redford.
Kool A.D. got into a cartooning contest with the New Yorker’s Farley Katz. The Village Voice said Kool A.D. won, and we wholeheartedly agree.
The video for “Michael Jackson” is one of the more insane things you’ll see.
Das Racist keeps very busy. Below we’ve got everything they’ve done as a trio, but there’s an insane amount of music out there from Kool A.D. and Heems. Dap is apparently getting into the solo game now, too, so keep an eye out.
Below, we’ve stuck with just the DR stuff, but you can dig up the rest at The Illuminati Zone.
Also, you can listen to Sit Down, Man and Shut Up, Dude for free on their website. No excuses!
Das Racist mixtapes/albums:
Shut Up, Dude
Sit Down, Man
Das Racist mixes:
Check Yo’ Ponytail Mixtape
Needle Exchange 009
Mix Manifesto – Issue Eight
Opening Ceremony Mix