Last night, Das Racist celebrated the release of their second mixtape, Sit Down, Man, with a Mad Decent and Mishka-backed spectacle at Santos. The bill featured contributors to the mixtape – Keepaway and Chairlift – as well as Mad Decent stamped Maluca and Tecla. Noting that there was an open bar (and, apparently, a line around the block) at 8pm, we decided to show up fashionably late.
By the time we arrived at 11pm, Santos was packed with a now very tipsy audience, antsy for Das Racist to finally take the stage. “I feel like Das Racist is bringing back something that hasn’t been around in hip-hop for a long time,” said Mishka’s Greg Rivera, out of VIP and leaning against the bar. “It’s important because, you know, a lot of these bands [the ones playing] are indie and classified into small genres, but Das Racist is just real actual hip-hop.” (They were an hour late to take the stage, if you didn’t believe him.)
Lyrically, the group is brilliantly hilarious bordering on vaguely nonsensical. It’s a theme that carries through to their live shows – at one point last night, hypeman Dap screamed the chorus of “Smells Like Teen Spirit,” before getting carried into the moshing group of fans who had somehow invaded the stage. Keepaway’s guitarist and keyboardist joined in, Das Racist MC Himanshu Suri yelled “Let’s sing another rap song,” and they all rallied together for Keepaway-produced “Amazing.” Shortly afterward, Heems took off his sweater to reveal a Metallica t-shirt, soliciting a scream of glee from the wobbly girl next to us: “Look at his fucking t-shirt! Ahhhhhh, my god!” Suddenly we notice that Suri’s partner, Kool A.D., has acquired a sparkly pink sari blouse, which he’s now wearing over his Mickey Mouse tanktop. To be honest, it’s all pretty endearing.
If anything, the stage madness adds to the group’s appeal here. They get away with the chaos because, for a hip-hop group that fondly (if ambivalently) accepts their “joke rap” tagline, they can actually rap. For real. Live, most of their subtle social commentary is easily lost in the din, but “Who’s That? Brooown!”–built around a sample from A Tribe Called Quest’s “Scenario”–still resonates just as hard, both with those that appreciate the nod to Tribe and the rest of crowd, who are merely busy freaking out with the three wild-eyed brown guys jumping around on stage.
At some point, the mics get passed around; fans wrench them away (Dap was the easiest to prey on), and we watch one photographer sling his camera over his shoulder in order to beatbox next to a guy we saw throw up by the ticket booth earlier. That kind of thing is cool by Das Racist though–they’re human, and so are we.