Review Summary: “White people – play this for your black friends. Black people – smack them.”
Well, this is weird. It’s 3 AM on a Monday morning, and I’m the only one awake in this house. I’m eating some Taco Bell leftovers that I paid the drive-thru cashier for with a fistful of torn, crumpled up 1’s, lint, nickels, dimes, and pennies. I have two tabs open on Safari: The New Yorker’s website, and Adult Swim’s quintessential stoner game Give Up, Robot. It’s a great game, really, albeit a frustrating one. Fifty levels – sixty-one, if you include those on the ‘hard game’– of retro chiptune, brightly flashing, pixilated neon squares, and an overall psychedelic visual atmosphere seemingly created to at lease cause dizziness or, at worst, induce epileptic seizures. But, we can’t forget Robot: The resilient, little mechanical adventurer that grapples his way through it all, no matter how much the unseen, antagonizing computer taunts and discourages him. But, I digress. Despite the fact that I’m not baked out of my mind, you know who I feel like right now? the guys from Das Racist.
On first listen, they may appear to be just another novelty rap outfit. It’d be hard to blame anybody for having that viewpoint when they have song titles such as “hahahaha jk”. I mean, that’s what I thought at first when I heard their critically acclaimed Shut Up, Dude
back in April. But much like an English teacher would tell a student who doesn’t understand the underlying message in a piece of reading, I give you this advice about Das Racist: look harder
. Trust me – it’s worth it.
The fun loving, pothead personas that Himanshu, Victor, and Ashok craft for themselves belie just how A) technically adroit and B) strikingly intelligent they are. Highly referentially-based, the raps of Das Racist are an eclectic blend of extended rhyme schemes, the internals thereof, punchlines, idiosyncratic stoner-isms, and comical one-liners. Check out not only the internal rhymes here, but also, the rhyme density and syllabic consistency of this stanza from “Fashion Party”,
“I’m at the fashion party, I’m wearin’ fashion clothes/I’m putting fashionable powders up inside my nose/Lookin’ at these fashion fiends, tryin’ to make them fashion ends/Tryin’ to touch that fashion paper, like they was fashion pens.
Moreover, Sit Down, Man
has a lot of social commentary in it. For example, “Rooftop” contains quick, subtle mentions the conformist, fundamentalist tendencies of religion and the complexity and contradictions found in politics. Nonetheless, Das Racist is much better when they’re delivering seemingly effortless comedy. “Luv It Mayne” sees Das Racist members sardonically posturing as typical hardcore rappers. Both “All Tan Everything” and “Puerto Rican Cousins” find the collective implementing their ethnicities as ammunition for jokes ("I got more rhymes than Puerto Ricans got cousins
However, their lyrical competency isn’t undermined by an aural deficiency. In fact, the production on the entire thing is great. The group’s aesthetic creativity shines through on “Town Business”, where the producer amazingly flips a sample for Lil Wayne’s “A Milli” – and a legit one at that, none of that steal-a-beat-for-a-freestyle bullsh*t – a song with an instrumental notorious for being repetitive and basic…and turns it into chill, reverberating lounge tune. Besides relaxed soundscapes, Das Racist seems to have a proclivity for dance music and electronica as well. Cuts such as these are equally successful. “Commercial” is an atmospheric track, complete with soaring synths and an electronic pipe organ melody, and “Fashion Party” is a tranquil, yet upbeat dance beat with pop and sensuous R&B undertones.
The balance Sit Down, Man
achieves- that of which is between mechanical proficiency and auditory pleasure – is best symbolized by two appearances on the album: the one by mainstream mega producer Boi-1da, and the other by championed Def Jux wordsmith El-P, two artists that are so far stylistically separated that they might as well be from different genres. Das Racist is more or less a trio comprised of hipsters-cum-rappers with an avid passion for making hip-hop. Oddly enough, that works. Is Sit Down, Man
so good that we may as well prematurely crown it the best release amongst the high quality pool that is 2010? Nah. But, Sit Down, Man
is a blend of borderline pretentious intelligence and party-on fun. I guess it’s rather fitting that their album title is simultaneously casual and grammatically correct, huh?