Review Summary: fuck you victor vazquez
When Das Racist used to feature other rappers on their tracks, it was something of an embarrassment: fools like Kassa Overall and Fat Tony would get utterly schooled by Victor Vasquez (a.k.a. Kool A.D.) and Himanshu Suri (a.k.a. Heems) without even knowing it, their earnest boasts ablaze like ants under the magnifying glass-like glare of the duo’s pervasive irony. Calling Hima and Vic out on their public shaming of lesser rappers would be presumptuous, but a piece of withering hashtag rap like Kassa’s “‘Cause life’s a gamble / Russian roulette” was always going to look bad next to Das Racist’s all-encompassingly smart and hilarious verses.
But that was way back in 2010, and things have changed. First and foremost among these changes is the group’s split, not only saddening but also portentous: the two are now free to probe whatever paths of aesthetic interest they like, and 19
, one of two mixtapes released on the same day by Kool A.D., proves that’s not always a good thing. With this mixtape, Victor Vazquez has fallen down the rabbit hole of dumb-rap, rendering a previously invigorating sense of humor and smarts utterly incapacitated and thanklessly vomiting up seventeen tracks that can only be described as braindead. Kool A.D., who just a few years ago would have run circles around lame guest rappers like Citizen Chance, now looks like a buffoon next to them.
Of course, anyone who’s been listening to Das Racist for the past few years knows that Kool A.D. is a smart dude and is aware of all this. Even on the still-potent Shut Up, Dude
and Sit Down, Man
mixtapes, Vic dabbled in mind-numbing frivolity, letting rhymes dissolve in the midst of a punchline or talking straight-up nonsense. It worked because he limned it with some of the smartest, most self-aware rhymes you’d ever heard, busting open the restrictive “smart”/”dumb” dichotomy and having a lot of fun with it.
But where Vic’s smartness and his “dumb”-ness used to be like a Venn diagram composed of two circles constantly overlapping into each other, contending for dominance in consistently entertaining ways, now there lounges a globular monster of pathogenic idiocy, marked by constant shout-outs to Justin Bieber and Mad Lib rhymes (“Bitch I’m [insert celebrity]” is especially popular). Which, whatever: ha ha, Kool A.D. You “win”. Shi
t like this gets me angry because I know he can do better. Kool A.D. is, on this record, still a smart person playing dumb. But the game has enveloped him, so much so that the parody has become indistinguishable from the subject it is ostensibly aiming to lampoon. Separating his maybe-genuine interest in the scumsucking tendencies of Datpiff rap from his attempts at caricature is a pursuit I have no stomach for. I do not need to tell you about any one of these specific songs because they are all the exact fuc
king same. “All Skreets” has an okay, cloudy Keyboard Kid beat that Victor babbles over. “Marine World Africa USA” has an awful guest verse by its producer. Victor babbles some more. I think Victor namedrops David Foster Wallace at some point. The album ends on a production by the man himself, and it sounds like it was recorded with a Fisher Price microphone.
Which, once again: whatever. I understand that any reaction to this type of thing past just sort of brushing it off is heresy. After all, Victor is the poster boy for irony, or post-irony, or post-post-modernism or something. But this tendency to just say “meh” to everything that has ever happened ever--to rap, to celebrities, to mixtape culture, to criticism, to your fans, to the world--has now bent itself around and bit itself a huge chunk out of Victor’s ass, and now he’s being willingly shown up by a dude named “Cuzzo Fly”. As an avid Internet user who understands the exigencies of having an ironic persona, I get the game he's playing, and I know that the only dignified response to it is no response at all. But as a fan of Das Racist and of music that aspires to be
something, I simply can’t forgive him for this shi