Das Racist is the Brooklyn art rap duo made up of Victor Vazquez and Himanshu Suri, the masterminds behind “Combination Pizza Hut and Taco Bell”. With their debut mixtape, they reveal their full arsenal: Always wacky, sometimes insightful and never anything but straight hipster noise.
There’s a few layers to this album. Sadly, much of that is all bad jokes and gimmicks (“Chicken and Meat” and “Combination Taco Bell & Pizza Hat”, and “Rainbow In The Dark”), all of which turn to the band’s go-to topic: Food. But there are a couple of tracks that, despite heavy reliance on more cheesy trickery, are genuinely good. “Hugo Chavez” is like some codeine-fueled Fat Boyz dancehall burner. “Deep Ass Shit” follows an uber cliche gimmick, specifically some Cheech and Chong-level pot worshiping, but like “Shorty Said”, the gimmick is less over the heads of the listeners; with their cottonmouth delivery, mixed with small tinges of straight intelligentsia absurdity, it’s a funny trip. On the other hand, most of the bad songs are less about tracks themselves and more so as representatives of what Das Racist stand for. Or don’t.
“One Dollar Can” is pure psychedelic reggae garbage with no hook or appeal and takes the lighthearted dance song fused with social commentary bit to an asinine level. But with “Fake Patois”, they’re lambasting the culturally and racially insensitive nature of hip-hip. That direct path doesn’t suit these jokesters. What’s supposed to be Autotuned satire is just too catchy and genuine to be any legitimate satire. It’s not a bad song, but from them, it goes against the mold and highlights the dangers of painting yourself into a corner of deconstructionalist music. There’s only so far you can skew something and gleefully celebrate it before the whole ratio goes out of whack.
The core of the band’s music making is rapping about obscure topics (Dadaism or Eddie Said) to super catchy, upbeat dance tracks. And there is that kind of vibe there’s something deeper, but at the same time it’s not as deep as you might think. True, they do indulge in lots of great wordplay and ever-changing flows, but it’s all surface references, like the friend who name drops without a lot of context behind it. Yes, they’re aware of the ass backwards world that is hip-hop, our shallow, technology-obsessed society and their own relationship in regards to it all (specifically in the fourth wall-breaking line “Is it parody comedy, novelty or scholarly? Little bit of column a, a little bit of column B” from “Don Dada”). But while they’ll claim they’re angry with a lot of it, they’re also furthering the context of utter lethargy in society by pushing it to such an extreme so very often and by dealing with an audience who isn’t always going to be in on the joke or even care enough to want to be.
Underneath the vintage tees, cans of PBR and copies of Paul Laurence Dunbar, there could be an actual rap group with something legitimate to add to the world of indie hip-hop. But as far as their first crack at hip-hop legitimacy in the form of an actual release goes, besides a few bright spots, the less said, the better.