It’s tempting to try to explain away Das Racist, a Brooklyn rap duo that is composed of Wesleyan grads Himanshu Suri and Victor Vazquez; they’re responsible for the viral magic that is “Combination Pizza Hut and Taco Bell.” Their unalloyed enthusiasm for lyrical non sequiturs and literary wordplay has invited comparisons to “Eddie” Said, outer borough shit-shooting, and Sonia Sotomayor. Das Racist (who the New York Times recently referred to in a review as a “a pair of stoner jokesters”) made most of these comparisons themselves. That’s kind of the whole point.
Actually, “unalloyed enthusiasm” is a ridiculous expression. Das Racist is more of a colloid: a dense and occasionally opaque mixture of dispersed particles that doesn’t quite settle. Suri is an alumnus of Stuyvesant High School, so one assumes he might drop hard science when he’s not making rhymes. This is a good thing. Sometimes it’s great.
Suri explained their origin story to Method Life back in April, “Rap got really boring and it was 2000, so it wasn’t the 90’s any more. It was just people in a post-9/11 environment that were trying to have a relatively good time. So the idea was to still make subtle political commentary but take the whole annoying ‘YO, THIS IS ME RAPPING ABOUT MY SOUL’ out of it and undermine it with some dance music…Dancing is fun, but the moment where you have a real laugh while your dancing, that’s the most fun.”
Which brings us to what the MP3s cannot convey: the blissed-out weird banter of a Das Racist live show. The goofy back-and-forth between Suri and Vazquez may be a gimmick, but it feels completely organic in the moment, even profound. More often, it is really stupid, and completely delightful. At a June 1 benefit at Greenpoint’s Coco 66, they randomly broke into the Family Matters theme song.
Or as Vazquez recently told the Village Voice when asked about their live act, “All art is performative, and all performance is art. Existence is performance art. Everything is funny, and all jokes are serious. If a tree falls in the forest, does it make a sound? I would argue that our live show is also like House Party 2.”
Das Racist, “Chicken And Meat”