Das Racist is fucking great at rapping
Published: October 6, 2011
with Danny Brown, Despot
7 p.m. Friday, Oct. 7
Das Racist occupies two realms at once. On the Internet, the hip-hop trio is forever loitering outside of a fictional fast-food mashup nestled somewhere along the raggedy expanse of Jamaica Avenue in Queens, NYC. Heems, Kool A.D. and Dap have 2008’s “Combination Pizza Hut and Taco Bell” to thank for being rooted to this cyber spot. That song, which does little more than repeat the title as a mantra, became a viral phenomenon; it was interpreted as either an astute satire on corporate culture or a fine piece of rapped musical idiocy – hip-hop as comedy vehicle.
Today, however, Das Racist inhabits its other place in the tangible world. Ahead of the release of Relax, the group’s first proper studio album after last year’s Shut Up, Dude and Sit Down, Man mixtapes, they’re doing what any other rap act that exists below the major-label level does: cramming in days of press and preparing to hit the road for a mammoth 30-plus-date tour. With Das Racist, the process is more often than not blurred. So the location for today is a Queens-area pizza parlor. Dap insists the group doesn’t particularly like pizza, paired with fast food of Mexican descent or not.
The hypeman to Heems’ and Kool A.D.’s main lyricist roles, Dap says Das Racist has spent the morning in Singas Famous Pizza, a mini-franchise of Indian-owned pizza joints that are prolific in Queens. “The pizza is meant to be great,” Dap says, “but, you know, I don’t like cheese. It’s too oily.” His words could be taken straight from a Das Racist song. “It can taste good, but you know you’re not gonna be great later.”
Dap’s culinary commentary is representative of Das Racist’s presentation to the world in capsule form: Offer up something smart and then distance yourself from the reaction, but also sort of play into it. Leave them guessing, or at least writing about it. According to Dap, possibly extending the riddle, the biggest misconception about the group is “the parody or satire thing” – the idea that every Das Racist lyric or song has to be a jokey-yet-subversive take on some social or political situation in the world. This, he says, comes from “the white dude rock critic’s idea of what we should be doing and the music we should be making and the way our image is supposed to look.”
Fair enough. Das Racist fits the template for the kind of hip-hop group that, traditionally, his clichéd rock crit gravitates toward: nonthreatening (De La Soul were hippies!) with a social conscience (Arrested Development had a song about a homeless man!) and lyrics that hint at a studious background (MC Paul Barman wrote rhymes as palindromes!). “Combination Pizza Hut and Taco Bell,” despite its childish refrain, hit the trifecta.
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