Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Best of 2010: #2 Das Racist - Sit Down, Man

While the phrase “hashtag rap” made the rounds on some blogs in discussing Drake’s punchline delivery style, Das Racist were hash tagging within hash tags and essentially dumping entire Wikipedia pages on listeners all year. Yes, the “Combination Pizza Hut and Taco Bell” guys.

Sit Down, Man is the better of two mixtapes DR released this year, that could come to define a new strain of underground rap or could just turn into a once in decade landmark hip-hop release in the vein (and possibly on the artistic level of) Paul’s Boutique. Big words, for sure. And while the wide array of beats from a veritable who’s who of new and established producers does not quite match the sample overload of the Dust Brothers, Das Racist are easily matching the Beasties’ classic for ideas per minute.

Das Racist are nothing if not hyper aware of their perception as Rap outsiders and they play to it. “White Kids play this for your black friends/Black friends smack them.” Das Racist know they're legit, but they don’t expect anyone to understand that. So it goes, they let their rapping do the talking. (Which your dad might say: “is kind of what rap is, no?”) The barrage of references alone can make your head spin. These guys rap like people who get lost in Google land as often as your favorite office drones.

Musically too Das Racist are pushing the conversation forward. To see beats by indie-rock leaning up and comers like Keepaway and Chairlift, to established taste makers Diplo and El-P, and even a beat from Drake associate Boi-1da all on one release further shows the scope of influence being incorporated into the Das Racist world view. It’s honestly the most cutting edge hip-hop shit of the year, goofy as it all may be.

In some ways, Das Racist have spent the past 12 months rehabilitating their image. It’s the kind of rehabilitation that on paper seems impossible. Running from a novelty “hit,” what some might see as a racial handy cap, reportedly disastrous live shows (including one in which they were supposed to perform Paul’s Boutique, but instead yelled over an iPod). They soldiered forward, making intellectual arguments with New Yorker writers, having “cartoon offs” with an editorial illustrator, refining a live show that is now winning raves. All this work has made them a unique and exciting cultural force. But all they really needed to “rehab” their image was this mixtape. Then again what do I know, I’m white and I have a blog.

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