February 2, 2011
@ The Independent
Better than: Dancing to Tina Turner alone in your room.
The members of Brooklyn hip-hop outfit Das Racist are masters of mixing the ignorant with the intelligent without being too pretentious or ironic either way. They're just dudes who have some thoughts on race, love hip-hop, and love getting drunk. And that's cool, because I'm also into all of that shit. Last night at the Independent, Das Racist offered up all three of those things in spades, and then some.
Vin Sol got things started with a DJ set, but I was too involved with my High Life 40 at home to be there for that, so I missed it. But shortly after 9, the Oakland trio HOTTUB took to the stage. Based on what I saw, they're three girls who like banging on drums, don't like wearing pants, and like rapping energetically over electro-y beats. None of the music was very good, but they brought plenty of vagina-grabbing, third-wave feminist swag to the stage, and the crowd seemed to be warming up to their antics, which I can live with.
in the back of the crowd, and at that moment I was like, OH HEY NOW I GET IT, and I decided I would see them again when it wasn't 9:45 on a Wednesday.
Towards the end of their set, I decided I wasn't drunk enough for it all, so I made my way to the bar for a gin and tonic. And at some point between tipping my bartender and shuffling back to my spot, 30 people had suddenly appeared up on stage dancing, and HOTTUB was rapping about big-ass titties and shaking bellies and grabbing more vaginas and walking through the audience banging drums while someone was trying to crowd surf
The sold out crowd was really there to catch Das Racist's antics. But before that could happen, the DJ or soundguy or whoever made everyone suffer through a half-hour playlist of mediocre dubstep tunes, and I decided I wasn't drunk enough for that, so I went and got myself another gin and tonic. While waiting in line for a drink, the dubstep died down and some voices started rambling over the speakers. Eventually, Himanshu, Kool A.D. and Dapwell -- aka Das Racist -- stumbled on stage, saying something about how they love San Francisco, but they hate us all, and then launched into "Who's That? Brooown!"
Shut Up, Dude
and Sit Down, Man
, where they spat rhymes, drank their drinks, and delivered a healthy dose of the silliness they're known for. But as they entertained the crowd with songs like "Shorty Said" and "Hugo Chavez," they started littering their set with parodies of hip-hop show cliches.
Himanshu was walking around on stage shouting "WE SUCK!" and sounding off airhorns from his laptop (which serves as this group's DJ), while Kool A.D. asked for more alcohol. Dapwell, meanwhile, launched into a bit about "real hip-hop" (surely anyone who went to a hip-hop show between '97 and '07 heard an MC pull that routine once), before declaring that there were five elements of hip-hop, four of which were Kate Bush. Naturally, they then put on a Kate Bush song and started riffing over it.
From there, they started to run through cuts featured on their two mixtape/album releases
After about a half-hour on stage, they said they wanted to do a fake encore, because that happens at all the shows. So they ran off stage while telling us over the soundsystem to cheer louder for them. When the crowd was loud enough, they ran back on stage and performed "Rainbow In The Dark," which is still their best song.
By now, I had decided I was drunk enough for all this, but since cool shit happened every time I went to the bar, why not repeat the process? And sure enough, as one song started to end, and I acquired another G&T, Das Racist started singing their own acapella rendition of Usher's "Make Me Wanna," which was probably the best thing I heard all night. And because they like making self-aware jokes, they sang it again 10 minutes later.
No combination fast food for you: One of the beautiful things about the self-aware nature of Das Racist is that they must know most people think of them as "that group that does "Combination Pizza Hut and Taco Bell." And surely a lot of the people there expected them to play that. Well they didn't. And I like that.
But here's the kicker: the fake encore was the REAL encore (cue dramatic music). After they finished the song, they put on Tina Turner's "Simply The Best," ran around the stage high-fiving the crowd, then shook out. And that was the show. Was 35 minutes a bit short? Sure, especially since it was only 11 when it ended. But, I mean, at least it was entertaining.