Das Racist, Sit Down, Man

Das Racist, Sit Down, Man

Alright, so I’ve got to confess that I’ve got no fucking clue what the difference is between a mixtape and a “real” release, these days, except that (maybe?) you give the former away for free. I mean, look at Das Racist’s Sit Down, Man — it’s ostensibly a “mixtape,” but if, say, the Black Keys released a full-length for free online, they’d just call it an album for the fans and be done with it.

I shouldn’t complain, though, because if it weren’t for Sit Down, Man, I doubt I’d have heard these three NY-dwelling misfits any time soon — a handful of Houston rappers excepted (and speaking of which, kudos to Fat Tony for his feature on “Luv It Mayne,” which is made more badass by him being on it), I’m far, far behind the curve on hip-hop in general (which kind of explains why it’s taken me ’til now to review this). And after actually hearing Das Racist, hell, I’m mesmerized, utterly floored. I literally can’t stop listening, even when I hit the tracks I like least.

On the one hand, Heems, Kool A.D., and Dap make me think of that whole “experimental” hip-hop scene, as epitomized (in this case, anyway) by weirdo psych-hop freaks cLOUDDEAD and beat poet/rapper Mike Ladd, whose liquid/outer-space vibe would flow perfectly with the bulk of Sit Down, Man. There’s the rubbery, future-synth bass beneath the ultra-repetitive lyrics on “All Tan Everything” or the water backdrop of “Amazing,” for two.

But then there’s the band’s streetwise, stunted-youth side, rapping gleefully about cartoons, old soap operas, and jackets they had when they were kids, playing with and twisting words into fucking balloon animals so quickly you’re left going, “wait…what?” The pop-culture referencing on Sit Down, Man is especially insane — about half the time, the lyrics seem less like fully-fleshed-out thoughts and more like a stream-of-consciousness brain-dump of the three members’ collective childhood fantasy.

And it’s a beautiful, awe-inspiring thing, believe it. The more I listen, the more this album feels like some kind of spiritual twin to Girl Talk’s All Day, with Das Racist splicing together snippets of culture together like Greg Gillis mashes up actual samples.

Take the weird-but-it-works faux-soul of “Fashion Party,” where the group namechecks the Janjaweed and The Devil Wears Prada in literally the same nonsensical breath, or, better still, “Amazing,” in which they reference Capt. Christopher Pike, Thundercats, Babe, the Bible, Captain Kangaroo, and The Flintstones, all in the span of about 30 seconds. It’s freaking incredible, so fast and packed-full that it’s almost impossible to follow — it practically demands repeated listens just to see what the hell they’re talking about.

Not that it makes much sense, mind you, but truthfully, I don’t care. I doubt they do, either, going by the aside in the middle of “Amazing”: “Just, like, pretend you know what I’m talking about, y’know?” Granted, sometimes it doesn’t fly — see “People Are Strange” or “Commercial” — but even then there are gems lurking amidst the muck, like the part on the latter where the repeated word “money” eventually starts sounding weirdly like something off of Underworld’s Beacoup Fish.

At the end of the day, quasi-hit track “hahahaha jk?” might as well be the band’s modus operandi, with the refrain, “We’re not jokin’ / just jokin’ / we are jokin’ / just jokin’ / we’re not jokin’,” holding ambiguity high like a banner. Is it all a joke? Or are these guys really-and-truly serious? And hell, does it even matter? On the strength of Sit Down, Man, I’m calling it a resounding “nah” — serious or stupid, Das Racist make my jaw drop.

[Das Racist is playing 3/22 at Fitzgerald’s, along with Fat Tony, Muhammad Ali, Simple Success, DJ iPod Ammo, & Damon Allen.]
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Review by . Review posted Tuesday, March 22nd, 2011. Filed under Features, Reviews.

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