To anyone on the Internet with even the slightest music nerd inclination, abstract Brooklyn rap group Das Racist has long been a giant, glowing orb to our mosquitolike existence; it was against our nature to avoid it. And, it’s largely been a great experience — they’ve released a pair of wicked mixtapes, yukked it up like seasoned professionals and created some awesome videos. They even got into a duel with The New Yorker Cartoon Department, which is like, what? In his spare time, Himanshu Suri, who is genuinely one of the nicest, funniest, smartest dudes I’ve known since I’ve been in New York, supplied one of Stroked’s most memorable cuts. (Disclosure: he’s a friend of the site, and has contributed eloquently). You know what the frightening thing is? I feel like I’m leaving a ton out, and I just ran down something like a dozen extremely notable things. The Internet itself, in its ghastly enormity, is at the mercy of Das Racist.
Das Racist’s formal debut album Relax hit those with premium Spotify accounts yesterday, and now that opinions have started flowing, here we are.
Relax certainly still maintains the group’s hyper-referential, wisecracking appeal while in pursuit of more mature, fully-formed songs, as opposed to verse-verse-verse mixtape fodder (some of those songs definitely hold their own there). And, in that quest, Das Racist has a ton of success on songs like “Michael Jackson,” “Relax” and “Booty In The Air.” Some stuff is less successful (“Punjabi Song,” “Girl”), but even those have redeemable portions. The production is a little erratic. The batshit, liberal arts-educated lyricism is there, like always, and the songs all ooze that signature Das Racist charm that makes them so lovable, in a landscape where similar artists like Ninjasonik are so maligned.
As I’ve rooted, as a fan, for Das Racist to get huge, I’ve always worried about if their humor was just too hyper-local and insider-y to the point where people outside the boroughs would just get sick of tracking the allusions and might just close their browsers at some point. I think Relax frees Das Racist from this concern, but I’m not sure I like it more than I like the mixtapes (I, like, love the mixtapes). But, as for my desire for them to blow up, I can put that to rest as well. They already have.
Relax is out on 9/13 via Greedhead.