So, um...yeah. What, you weren't expecting to read about the Brooklyn trio (well, duo plus a hypeman) Das Racist on the blog this week? Some of you had to have seen this coming after they popped up on that Mr. Muthafuckin' eXquire write-up a few months ago. Well, HHID isn't all of a sudden catering to hipsters (not more so than usual, anyway); I decided to tackle their debut mixtape, Shut Up, Dude, for two specific reasons.
(1) Doing so will eventually allow me to get to one of the best songs I discovered during that hiatus I had earlier this year. No hints, but yeah, I just pretty much admitted that I would be working through this group's catalog, so I imagine most of you two are tuning out right about now.
(2) Seriously, Das Racist, whose name was inspired by a sketch on the old MTV2 show Wonder Showzen, has received crazy buzz in our chosen genre. Sure, a lot of that buzz was generated by Pitchfork and Rolling Stone, neither of which are true barometers of our culture, but the duo plus a hypeman made up of Kool A.D., Himanshu, and Dapwell have also made appearances on some of your favorite hip hop blogs. You know, the ones that post free mp3s that you're supposed to pretend don't exist? Don't worry, I won't tell anyone.
Shut Up, Dude is a free mixtape released in conjunction with the Greedhead label and the clothing line Mishka. It features Kool A.D. (Victor Vazquez) and Heems (Himanshu Suri) rhyming over many different types of beats, and by "rhyming" I mean "stream-of-consciousness shit-talking that wouldn't seem out of place on a VH1 'I Love The 2000's'-type of program". They refuse to adhere to the standards of our chosen genre, but they're not exactly making fun of hip hop: they just choose to look at things through a different prism.
At least, that's what I've been told in an effort to not rile me up.
1. WHO'S THAT? BROOOWN!
Immediately establishes that Das Racist is a style-over-substance affair on all fronts. Built on a vocal sample from A Tribe Called Quest's classic “Scenario”, producers Sabzi and Young Paperboy craft a bass-heavy concoction that pounds away at your subconscious with a rubber chicken. Kool A.D. Delivers the first verse but doesn't leave a mark, while partner-in-rhyme Heems receives two attempts to appeal to the listener with his stoner-Jadakiss flow. Heems, at least, manages to sneak in several references to “Scenario” for those of you paying attention, which, if I'm being honest with myself, won't be the majority of the two readers. I found this to be not awful but also not necessary, for what it's worth.
2. YOU OUGHTA KNOW
Conversely, A.D. Comes off as the marginally-better rhyme slayer on “You Oughta Know”, the Alanis Morrissette cover that you didn't know you needed, but if you're still listening to Shut Up, Dude after the first track, then you're not here for the lyrical wizardry: you'll be more than content with the random references Heems drops regarding the likes of John Forte and Big Punisher (R.I.P.) before he goes insane and his vocals undergo a de-evolution. The beat is actually kind of catchy and wouldn't sound out of place on radio airwaves, but that's all part of the gag, right?
3. COMBINATION PIZZA HUT AND TACO BELL
One of Das Racist's better-known tracks, and one that will severely try your patience if you aren't already on board. Kool A.D. And Heems play this shit like an interlude that the engineer never stopped recording, and it's annoying as shit, but that's the point: if you don't want to burn down all of the combination Pizza Hut and Taco Bell locations around you, then Das Racist has failed. Feel free to leave all of the combination KFC and Taco Bell sites alone, though. Liking this track (if one could ever truly “like” a somg as retarded as this shit) may be dependent on your fondness for what the mainstream refers to as “alternative” comedy.
4. RAINBOW IN THE DARK
J-La's beat on here is fucking goooooood, and Kool A.D. And Heems both step up their flows (if not their actual bars) to meet the new standard, with interesting results. Perhaps because it's the first track on Shut Up, Dude where our hosts simply rap, “Rainbow In The Dark” (whose only real relation to the Ronnie James Dio track of the same name is a quick name-drop) automatically becomes the first song on this project that you two may not immediately skip past. Neither man outshines the other, which is also a nice touch, considering Das Racist is a group and all. Nice!
5. FAKE PATOIS
Over the course of four minutes plus, Das Racist run a joke into the ground that wasn't especially funny in the first place, a gag you can guess at by reading the song title. Some of the actual track is amusing, and the Auto-Tune was an unexpected touch, but “Fake Patois” quickly challenges “Combination Pizza Hut and Taco Bell” for the title of Most Obnoxious Song. If you sit through the first thirty seconds, you'll get the overall idea, so it's probably for the best that we move on...now.
A mild, unofficial Ghostface Killah parody that takes place over Pretty Toney's “Nutmeg” (from Supreme Clientele) and runs for much longer that either participant deserves, although Kool A.D. And Heems get much more mileage out of the blatant non-sequiturs and silly-as-fuck word choices than they should. Trapped within the confines of an actual hip hop beat, our hosts are forced to fight their respective ways out, laying down bars that sound almost as though they were intended as reference tracks for a much better rapper. Not bad, but hardly an actual song, even though I will say that both men come across as surprisingly decent behind the mic.
7. SHORTY SAID (GORDON VOIDWELL REMIX)
Although it's chock-full of pop culture allusions, some of which are kind of funny (and one of which, “Fuck Carlos Mencia”, is just a statement that everyone should agree with), this track was fucking impossible to give a damn about, as this remix (I'm not familiar with any original version, if there even is one, as that seems like the type of practical joke Das Racist would try to pull), since the beat, presumably by Gordon Voidwell, was awful awful awful. Fuck this song.
8. CHICKEN AND MEAT
The J-La beat on here is actually pretty fucking hype, so much so that the lyrics won't even matter, which, obviously, is par for the course by now. Kool A.D. (deliberately?) flubs a few too many lines, making him sound like an amateur alongside Heems's grizzled veteran who only has three days left until retirement, but I'd be lying if I didn't admit that some of Victor's lines-slash-catchphrases weren't, well, catchy. One of the bars toward the end also reignited my desire to know the answer to a question that's been bugging me for about a year now: why would anybody want to have moves like Mick Jagger? Has anyone ever actually watched the man dance?
9. I DON'T OWE NOBODY SHIT
I don't know whether to be impressed or angry that these guys managed to stretch two sentences into a full-length song. I do know that this track is completely goddamn useless, though.
10. EK SHANEESH
Meh. The line, “I am a pickup truck...I am America” is a bit too on the nose, too.
11. HUGO CHAVEZ
Aside from the sections where the sound effects grow increasingly louder in one speaker at a time, which drove me fucking crazy, the J-La beat on “Hugo Chavez” wasn't bad, and the stream-of-consciousness references from our hosts were alright, especially the line, “Catch me in a van with some Pakis getting' lupid”, a shout-out to my favorite line from Digital Underground's “The Humpty Dance”. Still, even with that, I probably won't ever sit down with “Hugo Chavez” ever again, though.
12. I DON'T WANT TO DEAL WITH THOSE MONSTERS
Nah, too easy.
13. DON DADA
Yes, Kool A.D. Delivers the first verse on “Don Dada”, and it's both amusing and forgettable, but Heems quickly takes over with a Cappadonna “Winter Warz”-esque performance that, almost as though even he knew the listener was going to feel worn down by this point, helpfully explains what angle Das Racist is coming from and just how seriously they take this rap shit. (The answer is “not very”, although that would just be the group subverting expectations again.) The beat worked for its moment, too, which was nice. Good way to win the audience back, guys.
14. ONE DOLLAR CAN
The problem with performing with the sole intent of amusing yourself ans your friends is that you risk alienating everyone else who may catch said performance. I have this problem, too: for instance, I'm writing about Das Racist when most of you two probably won't understand why. I'm not trying to imply that I'm immune to the lure of inside jokes and the like.
15. COOCHIE DIP CITY
From the Nicolas Cage movie of the same name.
16. DEEP ASS SHIT (YOU'LL GET IT WHEN YOU'RE HIGH)
Das Racist deliver a stoner rap song for the listener, who is probably already high if they've gotten this far into Shut Up, Dude. Swiping Madvillain's dope-as-fuck "America's Most Blunted" beat to fantastic effect, Heems proves himself to be the better actual rapper, while Victor's off-beat inclinations actually fit the theme better than you would expect. Maybe these guys should try to convince Madlib to give them an original composition. It couldn't hurt. The interlude at the end runs for about one minute too goddamn long, though.
17. SHUT UP, DUDE
Okay, I will. I was almost done anyway.
SHOULD YOU TRACK IT DOWN? It depends. I have a feeling that my words have had a detrimental effect on you, the reader, and your chances of ever wanting to track down a copy of Shut Up, Dude. However, this really is one of those projects that you should form your own opinion on. Kool A.D. and Heems aren't fucking around in the vein of the Party Fun Action Committee: these aren't song parodies, they're more like parodies of what rap songs are supposed to sound like in the first place. And although the rhyming is absolutely nothing worth submitting to the Hall of Fame, some of it is contagious and ridiculous enough to quote randomly for no reason. I can see how Shut Up, Dude won Das Racist a rabid fanbase; however, it's also quite the polarizing effort, so approach it at your own risk. For the record, I liked quite a few tracks on here, mostly for the entertainment value and the goofy-ass lyrics, but there's also some truly awful shit on here, too. If you've heard it, I'd really like to know what you two think about it.