Das Racist – Relax

Rap is one of those things I have a tough time really buying in to.  It may be the current state of the rap community, or it might just not be something I can really grasp a whole lot.  It always seems like a bunch of guys telling people how much money they have, how many girls they get, or what an amazing person they are. There are a few different type of rap styles that I tend to gravitate towards however.  One of them is the fast rapping style.  I remember when I heard my first Bone-Thugs-in-Harmony song.  I was blown away by the speed they rap at.  I’m still blown away by Busta Rhymes, Twista, and many other really fast rappers out there.  The other type of rap I really enjoy is the comedic rap.  I have always tended to enjoy Ludacris for this reason.  Although in recent years he has gotten more serious, I really liked his earlier funny stuff.  Das Racist definitely fall more under that comedic rap category; however, they are extremely skilled and original at the same time.

Das Racist definitely doesn’t look like your typical rap group.  The group is composed of composed of  lead MC’s Himanshu Suri (aka Heems), and Victor Vazquez (aka Kool A.D.) and hype man Ashok Kondabolu (aka Dap).  Having two members of Indian descent and one of a Cuban background is a little different from your typical rap group.  Perhaps even more surprising than when the great-white-hope Eminem came out. But these guys show that they can definitely rap with the best for them.

Their sound is definitely slightly different from anything really being put out there right now. The song that put them on the map, “Combination Pizza Hut and Taco Bell”, had some people really wondering what they were even listening to. They do use the occasional hook to rap over, but they are not always your traditional sounds you would expect someone to use.  Perhaps my favorite song, off their album “Shut Up, Man”, called “You Oughta Know”, features the Billy Joel song “Movin Out”. (See sound clip at the bottom).  Their clever use of the song is amazing, but also just helps to show that they don’t take themselves too seriously.  The entire chorus is mostly spent mocking the original.  And, while their lyrics don’t appear to make much sense, their repetition of different sounds and words really creates a fun flow.

Relax not only fine-tunes, but also, picks up where their previous two mix-tapes left off.  The first single off the album, “Michael Jackson”, is definitely one of those songs that will get stuck in your head, but you’ll have no idea why.  The chorus, “Michael Jackson/a million dollars/ you feel me/holla”, makes very little sense, if any sense at all, to me.  However, the catchy factor is certainly there.  Once again, it is hard to understand what they are talking about in nearly any of the verses; however, they show the skill that they have for creating great rhymes.  They really use a lot of repetition of sounds and syllables to makes everything really hard hitting and catchy.  Their humor really comes out of this song as well.  I laugh nearly every time when the first verse ends with the adamant line, “I’m f*cking great at rapping!”.  Make sure you check out the video at the bottom.

Relax really is a good name for this album as many of the songs do feature the artists as seeming rather relaxed on the songs.  The title song that starts off the album has the first vocalist sounding rather subdued and laid back.  He definitely has some very clear and fluid rhymes here.  “Happy Rappy”  is another song that features the vocalists seeming rather comfortable in their genre.  They sit back and just flow for most of the song.  One of the more interesting aspects of the song is how they essentially start the whole song rhyming over the sounds of a baby making happy sounds.  Don’t give up on this song at the start though.  Even though they begin the song by counting from 1-20, they do eventually make it into real rapping. One other song that seems to almost feature a bored sound is “Brand New Dance”.  They actually start the entire song by sighing, and right in the first verse, it almost seems like they gave up writing lyrics and decided to make some noises.

One other thing Das Racist does great is rap over crazy interesting sounds.  One of my favorite things they do is rap over traditional Indian music.  “Punjabi Song” features not only the Indian beat, but also some fun singing as well.  These guys fit their rhymes right in there real nicely.  This is something they did on their last album a few times, and I’m really happy they kept up on this one.  “The Trick” features a lot of computerized blips and bleeps that a lot of other artists probably wouldn’t think to rap over.  A few other songs like “Celebration” and “Girl” seem to be almost rapped over 80’s pop songs.

If you’re not into rap, but you really like well constructed original music, check these guys out.  I am very selective about the rap I pick up, and these guys are definitely worth giving a chance.  Keep an open-mind and try not to take these guys too seriously.  They definitely don’t.

Teacher Grade: A



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