Many of the nation’s top music critics led a very public wake for Das Racist last December after the fast-talking hip-hop trio announced they were breaking up. (I deliberately say trio because let’s be honest, at the end, Dapwell was pretty much carrying the group). After Victor Vasquez tweeted news of the split in early December, there was a sobfest of sorts on the Internet.
Excepting a few articles here and there, like a piece by Grantland’s Amos Barshad, and former Sepia Mutiny columnist and Lehigh University professor Amardeep Singh, who had some suggestions for the group, especially Heems, the Internet as a whole seemed to take the news quite badly.
“[T]he Internet responded with a disappointed sigh. DR was a perfect group for this era — highly intelligent jokes about life and love and music layered over highly stupid ones in a way that felt so casual (yeah, you could say sloppy) it concealed the anger, education, purpose and personality behind them all…[It] was a tragedy.”
“Yesterday, we made loud wailing noises, followed by a series of frantic sobs, when we heard that Das Racist was breaking up. Why so sad? Well, put simply, there’s never been anything quite like Das Racist before. And it’s doubtful that anyone coming after will have quite the same delicious combination of lunacy and intelligence that made this trio of weirdos — MCs Heems (HimanshuSuri) and Kool A.D. (Victor Vazquez), plus hypemanDapwell (Ashok Kondabolu) — so special.”
But the SF Weekly article was nothing compared to the tears shed by Dan Jackson from CMJ, who authored the article “5 Things We’re Going to Miss About Das Racist.”
Well, I’m here to set the record straight. And yes, I’m familiar with the band. I first interviewed them for Sepia Mutiny four years ago and have been faithfully seeing their shows and buying their music ever since. (As Amardeep wrote in his blog post, “I wanted to love them.”) Without any further ado, here are three things I won’t miss about Das Racist. This particular post is based on the most recent show I attended, but is not at all atypical of the majority of my experiences.
1. Waiting for Hours Late at Night to See the Show. The last ever Das Racist show I saw was at Union Transfer in Philadelphia on Monday, October 8. I don’t think it was any exaggeration to say that the difference between the time Das Racist actually went on stage and the time Das Racist was supposed to go on stage was several hours later than the audience expected. The show ended close to midnight, far later than the work/school crowd expected and there were more than a few grumbles from fans. Instead, we were all treated to hour after hour of rappers (the majority incoherent) from Greedhead, the label founded by the trio.
2. Spending $20 on a Half-Hour Set. Maybe we should’ve seen the signs by then, but it was still disappointing when Das Racist spend all of 30 minutes (if that) playing for fans that had been waiting to see them for hours. When the group finally finished stumbling around onstage, encoreless (with a large portion of the act excerpted by untimely air horn blasts and gunshot sounds from Lakutis), the crowd actually booed. Booed.
3. Watching Drunken “Performances.” Somewhere along the way, someone started describing Das Racist sets as “sloppy.” Most likely it was New York Times critic Jon Caramanica, who reviewed a show back in 2009. Whoever it first was, the label stuck and you’ll see it used in almost every description of the band. They’re usually described as “sloppy” or “jolly” or both in a manner that implies a certain level or adorableness. Watching grown men botch a performance due to the influence of alcohol and/or drugs, as was evident in the last performance I saw at Union Transfer, was neither jolly nor adorable. It was just sad.
So there we have it, just a few of the things I won’t miss about DR. What won’t you miss about the group?