Das Racist – Relax (2011)

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In the age of hip-hop almost entirely being about thug life and bitches, Das Racist (DR) are a welcome difference. The three piece hip-hop group from New York made up of two MC’s, Himanshu “Heems” Suri, Victor “Kool A.D” Vazquez and hype man Ashok “Dapwell” Kondabolu. Prior to this first studio album being produced, DR released two mixtapes entitled Shut up, Dude and Sit Down, Man which helped them get the opportunity to release this album.

DR can sometimes be dismissed as a cheap joke  but they seem to tread the line between humour and seriousness brilliantly. Throughout the album, DR cover topics which are very common place in mainstream hip-hop; one such example being ‘Booty in the Air’ having plenty of auto-tune and a Vybz Cartel style verse, yet the song itself stands up and sounds great, without coming off as cheap.

What intrigues me with this album is the way DR can go from spinning intricate thought provoking lines “What good is this Cashmere / If they’re still dying in Kashmir” one minute, to rapping about Nestlé Chocolate mix the next, almost contradicting themselves in the space of a couple of minutes.

DR don’t shy away from their roots, incorporating an Indian sound into their music, such as “Punjabi Song” featuring American bhangra musician Bikram Singh. This is really refreshing to hear hip-hop being made in this way; with Heems and Kool A.D.’s rapping over a bhangra instrumental. It also features some quite high profile collaborations, including Danny Brown, Despot, and Diplo, but one of the most intriguing is that of EL-P, the legendary underground hip-hop producer and rapper, the song itself being a body moving hip-hop song.

Some other highlights of this album include the song ‘Power’ featuring Danny Brown and Despot, with a sound comprising a pixie like wail and with Danny Brown providing a brilliant verse, the track rivals Kanye West’s song of the same name. My favourite song on the album being ‘Rainbow in the Dark’ references Harold and Kumar, has a great beat and is generally just a fun track. Even if some songs escape you it’s worth it for the songs that you do “get” as there is some great music on here. A fantastic and totally different album to pretty much anything anyone else has released.

7/10

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