December 22, 2009
“Catch me in the crib gettin light to Jeff Mangum / It’s fun to do bad things like rhyme about handguns”
While this might be nothing more than an ironic joke by a hyperliterate hipster MC, it’s also possible that this lyric is a statement of fact, a declaration of the duo’s contradictory disregard/celebration of both hip-hop and indie culture. And if you’re watching the newly released video for the song (which mostly takes place in what looks like a Queens area thrift store) you are probably confused. Is this is a joke video, an ironic video, or an ironically serious video? Are these two actually commenting on anything? Why do they rap about fast food so much?
And speaking of fast food, if you heard anything about Das Racist (Himanshu Suri and Victor Vazquez) before it was probably because of their song “Combination Pizza Hut and Taco Bell,” an Internet sensation that went viral last spring and consisted of the two MC’s repeating variations of the line “We’re at the Pizza Hut / We’re at the Taco Bell / We’re at the combination Pizza Hut and Taco Bell”, over a frantic and repetitious dance beat. Some people called it clever, some called it criminally stupid, some even called it transcendent. Personally, I’m still not sure how to feel about the song. Most likely it is a combination of all the things said about it: a brilliant/inane/infectious/annoying dance song/social commentary that has nothing to do with dance music and comments on absolutely nothing.
And that’s probably a good starting point for understanding what Das Racist is trying to do. Their video, in its self-aware garishness and gritty humility, is deconstructing both the good and bad parts of hip-hop and giving us something brand new and confusing: something that has nothing to do with Jeff Mangum or rhyming about handguns, but is completely comfortable with the innate contradiction of liking both of those things. At one point in the song, after a line about playing Donkey Kong Country at Don King’s cousin’s house (?), Vasquez tells us “You don’t even know what it’s about”. And that’s true – I don’t know what this is about. But it sure is something.
Video after the jump.
More on Das Racist | “Rainbow in the Dark”
November 22, 2009
THIS WEEK IN SHOWS
Unfortunately, for those of us who’re orphaned in the city this Thanksgiving, it’s a slow week for shows. But it’s New York, so of course a few people are keeping the party going no matter what. And I’m thankful for that. Here’s what else I’m thankful for:
TUES, NOV. 24
Old dudes who’ve still got it: I usually figure it’s not worth it to see an artist who achieved their career prime a couple of decades ago. Not so with people like Ray Davies, lead singer and songwriter from The Kinks. I’d even book it on over to Jersey for him! Maybe that’s because, while I’m often drawn to bands for a certain raw energy – which has the real potential to wane – Davies’ real power has always been his genius songwriting, which has carried into the present. I guess I’m ultimately more thankful for The Kinks, though – who needs a real Thanksgiving meal when you have “Maximum Consumption” and “Hot Potatoes”?
Ray Davies, Nicole Atkins
8:00, $75, $55 & $35, ALL AGES
Bands with personality: In a city so saturated with new music, personality, or even just a certain level of oddness, goes a long way in setting yourself apart from the crowd. I don’t know enough about Automa to say definitively that they have crazy stage presence or some excellent collective sense of humor. (Actually, from the looks of their Myspace bio, they take themselves quite seriously.) But when lead singer Suki hinted that if JezebelMusic.com went to their Public Assembly show we could score some killer Lisa Frank stickers, I knew that if nothing else, these guys were memorable.
Cinema, Cinema EP Release with Automa, Already Gravity, Psycho Wipeout, The Kissing Club
8:00, $7, 21+
More on This Week In Shows
JezebelMusic.com @ Cameo Gallery
July 7, 2009 | Das Racist, Spanish Prisoners, Soft Black
Sunday night’s show at Cameo Gallery, featuring Soft Black and Das Racist, placed me in Williamsburg during the first true weekend of summer. Brooklynites were swarming on Bedford Avenue, thick with the smell of charcoal and beer. I was reluctant to leave the sunlight for the cement austere of Cameo’s space, but I had primarily come to see if Das Racist was all they are – or aren’t – hyped up to be. Yes, that Das Racist: the geniuses and jackasses behind the noxiously infectious “Combination Pizza Hut and Taco Bell.” (Admittedly, I also came for the happy hour $5 PBR/Bourbon shot combo).
The night kicked off with Soft Black, a Brooklyn-based trio whose opening two numbers reminded me of what an unearthed mix-tape of early Kings of Leon might sound like – a wavering trip of self-discovery that can’t decide if the vocals or the music are driving. From then on, the boys completely off-roaded, one moment channeling the rolling guitars of early America, the next moment throwing the words “I’m an animal” violently into the microphone. Like most bands in their infancy, Soft Black is in the throes of a musical identity crisis, but at least they play with enough energy to make you believe they could find their way eventually.
More on Das Racist, Spanish Prisoners, Soft Black @ Cameo Gallery | 7.12.09