Last year, Das Racist was on the verge of big things, thanks to the mainstream attention 2011’s Relax attracted. Instead of blowing up at the end of 2012 though, the Brooklyn trio just quietly imploded and went away. Fans were super-bummed at the premature split and the blame was laid squarely at the feet of Kool A.D. (a.k.a. Victor Vasquez), who admitted on Twitter last December that he had quit the group a full two months before Heems (real name Himanshu Suri) had performed a Das Racist set solo and told the crowd that the band was over.
Kool A.D. plays Webster Hall Wednesday night, opening a bill that also features El-P, Killer Mike and Despot. If you’re heading to the show this evening, do yourself a favor and get there early, even if you’re still holding a grudge. Because there are many reasons you should still care about Kool A.D.
Here are five of them.
He Performs Better When Not in Das Racist
As fun as they were, Das Racist sets were frequently chaotic affairs where Heems, A.D. and Dapwell yelled over the top of one another, stumbled around and rapped in a manner that suggested they were, for the most part, merely dicking around. Seeing Kool A.D. solo is a different animal–he has a focus alone that he tended to lack while still in D.R. He clearly gives more of a shit about his own work than he did about the group’s and you see that when he performs–it’s sharper and, technically-speaking, far more impressive.
He’s One of Us
At a performance in San Francisco’s Elbo Room earlier this year, we bore witness to the fact that, despite Das Racist’s moderate success, Kool A.D. is still hustling like the rest of us. He shamelessly and repeatedly tried to get free beer from the bar staff while on stage –before his set had even started. When those attempts failed, he threw the request for a drink out to the crowd and eventually wrangled a $4 beer. There’s something terribly endearing about that level of shamelessness.
He’s Still Ridiculous
The fact that A.D. makes more of an effort with his live rapping these days doesn’t mean he’s lost his absurd sense of humor. Any suspicions that Vasquez takes himself too seriously now can be dispelled with one viewing of the video for “Manny Pacquiao.” Five words: rapping in a chicken coop.
Support Your Local Rappers!
Das Racist had a hand in launching the special kind of left-field hip-hop that New York is spawning these days (a bunch of that credit needs to go to A.D.’s ex-bandmate, Heems, for his awesome Greedhead label). But we’re lucky to have the likes of A.D., Despot, Children of the Night and Lakutis on our doorsteps–let’s make the most of it.
See also: Live: Das Racist Writes A New Punchline
This Year’s Kool & Kass Release Was Next Level Awesome
Earlier this year, A.D. and Kassa Overall got together and collaborated on the Peaceful Solutions album. Turns out, it just happens to be one of the most underrated hip-hop releases of 2013 so far. There’s not a bad track on this thing. If this is the direction A.D. is going in, we’re following him.