Before you read the rest of this review, catch up on some history and listen to a track from the band’s first mixtape, Shut Up Dude. It’s called “Combination Pizza Hut and Taco Bell” and it’s about… being at a combination Taco Bell and Pizza Hut. It’s repetitive and inane, but fun and catchy, too. Some people, including the band themselves, believe it’s a critique of American commercialization. Most people think it’s the dumbest song ever written.
Sit Down, Man does not have any songs that resemble “Combination Pizza Hut and Taco Bell.” Das Racist is here and they actually might be as smart as they say they are. They can really rap and they’ve got the formula to save hip hop. Das Racist is Victor Vazquez and Himanshu Suri, two guys who dress like hipsters and don’t care much about personal hygiene. They’re too busy drinking Four Lokos and getting high, skipping over the rehashed gangster posturing that has come to define what rap sounds like.
“We’re not joking / Just joking, we are joking / Just joking, we’re not joking — ,” the hook on the track “hahahaha jk?” explains the outlook that the group has on their music. This is postmodern rap: Das Racist is past caring if it’s a joke or not.
That being said, this group is no joke. Its lyrics had more moments that made me crack an involuntary smile, when I caught the whole metaphor or punch line, than any recent hip hop I’ve heard.
Das Racist brings their raps back to a time when there weren’t commercial restraints on the genre. Unsigned to any label and accountable to no one, they can be weird with their hip hop, something that has gone missing from the genre. Even as the new alt-rappers like Drake, Kid Cudi or B.o.B have gained success rapping about emotional or lighthearted subject matter, they’re trapped by their adherence to the pop sound of the moment. Das Racist may have a four-minute-long free jazz freestyle rap, but it sounds cool and the beat’s hot.
Their lyrical game is crazy: “Really though / Frat dudes is like Juggalos / Underrated in the game like Mark Ruffalo.” Mark Ruffalo is a B-list actor, if you didn’t know (he was in “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind”). That doesn’t really matter. What does matter is the fact that this dude is rapping about frat dudes and Juggalos. If that’s not fun to listen to, I don’t know what is.
If you’re one of those people who don’t care or can’t tell what rappers are rapping about, don’t worry. The flow is alright. It’s a little monotone and Victor Vazquez sounds a little like Eminem, but it holds down the beats, which tend to be light and sparse, focusing more on the high hat than a booming subwoofer track; it sounds better on my iPod than in my car.
Also, there’s a track where they tell people such as Glenn Beck and Robert Gates to “sit down, man.” It’s great.
Hip hop has noticed Das Racist and it wants to be a part of what it’s doing. Jay-Z makes an appearance on the opening track “All Tan Everything.” El-P, of Def Jux fame, is on the title track. I can’t remember the last time I’ve seen these guys both give verses to the same mixtape. I can’t remember the last time The New Yorker was excited about hip hop. I’m happy that I’m having a good time listening to hip hop again. Check ‘em out. You might just like Das Racist, too.
The mixtape is available for free download at www.maddecent.com.