Discovering good hip hop these days is like finding a clean needle in a haystack of used syringes. That may be a strong analogy, but it’s an accurate one, as a lot of recent examples of the genre are toxic and dangerous in their blingin’ ballin’ blangin’ Bentley treatment of subjects like money, race, women and even fellow rappers.
Suffice to say there is a lot of rubbish clogging up the urban airwaves, but every once in a while something truly intelligent, unique and in the case of Brooklyn based hip hop act, Das Racist, cleverly humorous, rises to the surface and shines like a guiding light in an otherwise unimpressive mush of generic MCs and DJs.
Das Racist is a refreshing new presence in the hip hop world. Made up of MCs Himanshu Suri (aka Heems), Victor Vazquez (aka Kool A.D.) and hype man Ashok Kondabolu (aka Dap), the group has set a new standard in terms of fresh beats, intelligent lyrics and an uncanny ability to humorously point out the shortcomings of most stereotypically superficial rappers, not to mention “the game” itself.
Their sound is laid back, yet energetic, and their lyrics sarcastic and silly, yet serious and intelligent. This dynamic is not only incredibly difficult to accomplish, but almost impossible to achieve while maintaining the replayability most comedic artists fail miserably at (see Weird Al Yankovic or 2 Live Crew).
Not so with Das Racist, as they have proven with three incredibly well made albums. Their latest album, Relax, is their first to be released commercially. Their first two albums, Shut Up, Dude, and Sit Down, Man, were considered mix tapes, and released for free online, to be found at www.dasracist.net.
These first two albums gained the group instant attention from across the music industry, not just the hip hop world, and had many critics hailing them as some of the best new artists in the genre. They were noticed so quickly, and received so positively because of their seemingly contradictory style, which is both subtle and in-your-face.
Their first release, Shut Up, Dude, was described as “a fascinating album that attempts to write an impossibly new blueprint for rap: funny without trying to impress; proficient without having anything to prove; relevant without taking any particular scene seriously; imbued with a soulful sense of place—urban, disaffected, ethnic—but more interested in how that serves as fodder for jokes than in any big grab for meaning,” by Chris Molnar in by an online album review on popular music website www.cokemachineglow.com.
But in that same nonchalant style that makes them so accessible, there is a definite message — one that doesn’t have time for celebrity ego, racism, sexism, socioeconomic divides, and all the other garbage that comes with existing in mainstream North American society today.
So if you’re looking for something to dance to, without sacrificing your intelligence or subjecting yourself to brain numbing lines about “biatches and bling”, make your way to the lighter, yet ironically more serious, side of the hip hop universe, and have a listen to the literate and poignant rhymes of Das Racist.