Things seen projected behind Das Racist as they returned home for the last show on their tour at Brooklyn’s sold-out Music Hall of Williamsburg: Alf, purple Bart Simpsons, Majestic Dragon, Eighties leotarded aerobics, Kanye West’s “I’mma let you finish” speech, a woman riding a cat, Baphomet, the Windows 3.1 logo, the Trix bunny multiplied and transfigured into an upside down cross, spinning flaming dollar signs, a morphing baby face projected over dogs fighting on the beach, the ninth circle of hell and Kindergarten Cop-era Arnold Schwarzenegger.
Without even beginning to talk about the actual band on stage – their voices, demeanors, beats, clothes, whatever – we’ve already been clued in to a chunk of the reasoning behind their artistic existence: the Millennial mélange, post-alternative nihilism, the awesomeness. Heems, Kool A.D. and Dap are like the ultimate Tumblr come to life, with the people who curated it standing elevated in front of you, yelling and dancing and drinking. Das Racist act as a prism of young modern mental strife and life – “sick of arguing with white dudes on the Internet,” as they rap in “You Oughta Know,” is a sentiment many of us can probably get behind in some way. They are all-knowing, uncaring, worldly and provincial (“Queens!”), fast and smart and dumb, all at the same time.
Things kicked off, naturally, with a parody. In his recordings and live sets, Rick Ross uses the Air Horn Sample (thanks, Hot 97) and the Maybach Music Sample a cartoonish amount of times, and Das Racist and hometown DJ White Privilege weren’t about to let that ridiculous piece of hype go. It’s exactly what you want them to do, until they do it, and it becomes the most annoying sound in the world.
A critic at a Das Racist show is probably the least-welcome person there, not least for the fact that whatever they’re creating is aimed at the media-saturated, not the media saturators. They’re having fun, and they want you to, too – especially this night, where they weren’t only celebrating their homecoming, but the (“13th”) birthday of Kool A.D.
At the beginning of their set, the crew seemed road-weary and Heems was winking buzzed, easing nonchalantly into the spectacle with “Brand New Dance” from September’s full-length Relax. From there, rapper friends (most of them brought up with the three screaming, “White rapper! White rapper!”) came and went, Dap stayed endearing in is jumpsuit, Heems wandered about sometimes feeling it and usually playing with his shirt (after their first song of the encore, “What do you want us to do? We’re pretty much just hanging out”), and Kool A.D. was consistent, like watching Animal come to life with a new career’s worth of razor-sharp lyrics.
There’s the Das Racist you see on stage, and the Das Racist you hear in your headphones on the train – they’re the same three smart dudes, the same lyrics, the same heavy New York pride. But you can’t bring too much theory to the stage, and it’s important what you replace it with. Air Horns, projections (produced by Justin Hantz), the sound system at the Music Hall, and giggling camaraderie are as good as any.
“Brand New Dance”
“Who’s That? Brooown!”
“Rapping 2 U”
“You Oughta Know”
“Rainbow in the Dark”
“Shut Up, Man”