Das Racist Rock the Stage at NYC’s Bowery Ballroom [Exclusive Coverage]
New York, N.Y. -- Where am I? I look to my right and see a Brooklyn hipster with skinny jeans and a backwards snapback. But behind me is a group of bedazzled, fake-nailed Jersey Shore white chicks. Then I feel a bump on my shoulder as a sixty-year-old woman is furiously dancing to the DJ playing Rick Ross, like a lion trying to break from her cage. What kind of show is this?
Standing in the distinct crowd of the Bowery Ballroom in NYC, September 12th, I had no idea what I had gotten myself into. What do I expect when Das Racist finally hits the stage? The first warm up act was Despot, a short, drunk Irish redhead rapper from Queens with an attitude and swagger twice his size. And then came Mr. Esquire, a Brooklyn-raised old skool gangster with grillz and dozens of chains around his neck; one for each member of his crew he brought on stage. So what could possibly be next?
Here is what I did know about Das Racist. They consisted of three members; Queens-born Himanshu Suri (aka Heems), San Francisco-born Victor Vazquez (aka Kool A.D.), and hype man Ashok Kondabolu, known as Dap, who joined them for live performances and music videos. They were unconventional to say the least. I considered Das Racist as almost more of a comedy group with obscene references and multi-colored word choice. I had listened to their mix tapes Shut Up, Dude and Sit Down, Man, which sound more like albums, and I loved their refusal to be tied down to any style or genre But that’s about it. I was in for a surprise.
They walked on stage, almost like tech workers for the sound equipment, casual, calm and strictly business. But as the beat dropped for their first track “Who's That? Brooown!” all three members jumped in the air and slammed down with some of the loudest and boldest rhymes I’ve ever heard. As their boots hit the stage a wave of energy hit the Ballroom and the crowd went into a frenzy. Beer bottles were thrown through the air, a mosh pit ripped through the crowd and hands flew up towards the stage.
Even with a new album dropping the next day, titled Relax, posted in the number 4 spot on iTunes, Das Racist stuck to their guns and played mainly old tracks like “Ek Shaneesh”, “Rainbow in the Dark” and “You Oughta Know” for everyone to get down to. After a while, the crowd was separated into two distinct parts, the loyal Das Racist fans moshing and screaming at the front of the stage; and the others, with eyes wide open just watching and soaking in the sights. But by far the highlight of the night was at the end. Out of no where, for their track, “Michael Jackson,” three African tribal dancers hit the stage wearing straw skirts, body paint and animal furs, jumping through the air and flailing their arms and legs, transforming a traditional tribal ritual into the newest Das Racist movement. This was the icing on the cake to one of the most bizarre but coolest shows I have seen.
I learned a lot that evening. First, I did not know people could party so hard on a Monday night. Second, I learned that Das Racist is creating a new blueprint for rap. They are funny without trying to impress; talented without having anything to prove, relevant without taking any particular scene seriously and they define the idea of an urban melting pot. Their influences come from anywhere and everywhere, as long as it’s different and a sound new to your ear. And third, they are Das Racist, no one else and no one will be like them, ever. Just pick up their new album now to see for yourself.