Das Racist 


Das Racist is not joke rap. There was some question after the breakout "Combination Pizza Hut and Taco Bell," but Relax puts it confidently to rest. Certainly Himanshu "Heems" Singh and Victor "Kool AD" Vazquez are still screwing around, as tracks like "Brand New Dance" suggest. That jam is sluggish enough to stretch the chorus "it's a brand new dance / give us all your money / everybody / love everybody" over four bars. It's the kind of smart idiocy that made Das Racist internet famous, but it's songs like "Girl" and "Michael Jackson" that make them legitimate.

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What that means is a legitimate question. Chuck D called hip hop "the black man's CNN." Twenty years later, it's more like the Home Shopping Network: repetitive, apolitical, obsessed with more and bigger jewelry. Punjabi, and Latin graduates of Wesleyan College, Singh and Vazquez don't fit the template. Yet when Heems raps about his mother "holding me while bagging groceries at the Pathmark," it sounds realer than Nas's Tec on the dresser. That famous line gets a nod later on Relax, which is just self-conscious enough to tell the truth. Hip hop is materialistic and fake, except when you do it right. Then it's great.

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