What would Devo do if they formed today, would they still obsess about being the devolution of New Wave (obviously they would never pigeon-hole themselves, but eggs is eggs)? Or would they take stock of the current musical landscape and take a swipe at another, arguably, stagnating genre? Well it wouldn’t matter anyway, because whilst some middle-aged men tour the world in silly hats, we have Das Racist taking their own unique devolutional and deconstructional approach to Hip Hop. Their highly intelligent observations, references and statements are masked by a careful sloppiness that is part affectionate and warm parody; Gangsta Rap ‘it’s fun to do bad things like rhyme about hand guns’ and Backpacker Hip Hop ‘metaphysical spiritual lyrical murder. the ill 96 manifestable third eye abstract backpacked vegans, skateboards et cetera’ are both in firing line, and part expertly produced beats. The New York Times wrote ‘Das Racist’s lack of piety has become an aesthetic of its own, with songs that are as much commentary on hip-hop as rigorous practice of it’.
Interwoven into their lyrics are references to seemingly unrelated things; Hugo Chavez and Pizza Hut? Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak and KRS-One? But their flow is often absurdly logical and best described as pop culture crosswords. With productions culled from Casio keyboards and seemingly dumb fun flows it’s easy to dismiss the group as a novelty, one interviewer recently posed the question ‘Is this a joke that everyone thinks is a graduate thesis, or vice versa?’, but to do so is to ignore what’s going on beneath the surface. Whilst producing some of the best contemporary hip hop out there they’re also taking the legs out from underneath the genre itself. It’s this electricity between these two aims that powers their brilliance.
The New Yorker again say it best ‘The band members want you to think about the ways that skin color can affect consciousness, they also don’t mind if you go ahead and party’