Official word of Das Racist's demise was scheduled to break soon, Victor "Kool A.D." Vazquez tells Rolling Stone, but an abrupt announcement from Himanshu "Heems" Suri at this weekend's On3 Festival in Germany upended the Brooklyn hip-hop trio's planned statement.
During what was billed as a Das Racist performance, Suri – the only member who made the flight to Munich – confirmed the split between songs. Today, Vazquez told Rolling Stone that he decided to quit Das Racist more than two months ago, on September 20th – the first of several scheduled U.S. dates, in Lexington, Kentucky – but agreed to play them and withhold the news at his management's request.
"I was like, 'I'll do the rest of the tour – anything that's on the schedule right now, I'll do. And then I'm done. I'm not recording the album,'" he said in a phone call, referring to the single-record deal inked with Sony in July. "When I made that decision two months ago, I was certain in that decision. And I think maybe the whole team around us thought I was going to change my mind."
In retrospect, the secret seemed bound to slip: European and Asian dates were canceled. Solo mixtapes and albums from Suri and Vazquez kept coming, with little said on a follow-up to Das Racist's only album, 2011's Relax, itself a side project for both artists. Suri had spent more time recruiting fresh faces for his label, Greedhead Music, while Vazquez had increasingly collaborated with musicians outside the group.
"We're more or less friends. I think he would agree that we just don't want to be in a professional capacity. It just doesn't make sense to have our money and our public image and our career tied up in each other, 'cause we're trying to do slightly different things," he said.
"The plan was that this was going to be our last album anyway," Vazquez added. "Once we had that sort of definitive endpoint, it was kind of like, 'Why are we even doing this? We know we want to break up.' Like, why are we even going through the motions of another album that's going to be a whole 'nother year of having to hang out with each other?"
Four days before he quit the group in September, Vazquez acknowledged in an unpublished interview with Rolling Stone that they would re-enter the studio in the spring to record a second album. "We signed a deal, so you know, we're going to have to do it eventually, but we've been kind of putting that off," he said at the time. Today, the record's fate appears at an impasse. "We're going to work on some new stuff and [put] some of our stronger solo material on there, too," Heems told Rolling Stone in November.
Vazquez said today that the group had recorded parts for four or five songs, and completed only one or two. In an email, group member Ashok "Dapwell" Kondabolu wrote, "I don't think that project will be released anytime soon. The idea of moving past the group crystallized a few months ago." Sony has not responded to a request for comment.
Since his departure, Vazquez says he has been working on some 50 tracks for three other projects, and has even rekindled his high school punk band, for which he plays drums.
"We did our thing, we had a good time, and I think it was time for it to end," he said of his four years with Das Racist.