Das Racist mixes cultural commentary, impressive beats

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Review

If Odd Future has a competitor for the title of most controversial, angry rap group, it would be Brooklyn-based alternative rap trio Das Racist. Inflammatory to an extreme, in a clever way, Das Racist doesn’t care because they know they’re smarter than you ­— or at the very least, they think they are. In that sense, the group creates an exclusive vibe that only a select few think they are intelligent and brash enough to understand. The only problem is that in Das Racists’ world, no one is smart enough except the rappers themselves. Fusing sociopolitical commentary with absurd, abstract nonsense, they’re always telling a joke, and it’s always on you.

Their first studio album, Relax, serves as a much more cohesive introduction into the abstract, enigmatic minds of Das Racist than the trio’s two previous mixtapes, Sit Down, Man and Shut Up, Dude. With lines like “Urban Dictionary is for demons with college degrees,” and “I stay where young Icarus went to daycare,” Relax features more pop culture and academic references than a Howard Zinn New York Times crossword puzzle.

In terms of instrumentals, Relax is extremely compelling. The album’s first single, “Michael Jackson” and additionally “Booty In The Air” illustrate this perfectly with deeply layered beats that sound like wonderful ear candy.

Das Racist makes fantastic use of Relax’s beats by placing ridiculous verses on top of them. Outside of being good lyricists, all three members of Das Racist have impeccable flows, and are capable of quick rapping in a unique, articulate manner perfect for weaving metaphors throughout intelligent, yet almost nonsensical narratives. When they’re not rapping, they utilize indie rap talents, El-P and Despot, among others to complement them.

At the base of it, Relax is good. Really good. The variety of styles and technical ability of Das Racist is unmatched. Their sound is extremely unique, something hard to do in the oversaturated world of hip-hop. Relax might finally get them the notoriety they deserve. Just as likely, it might not. Das Racist probably doesn’t really care either way.

Listen to Das Racist's latest album on Spotify.

Printed on September 22, 2011 as: Artists release unique beats, engaging lyrics