If Das Racist were alive in the year 1220, and were from Mongolia, they would have been Genghis Khan's favorite hiphop court entertainers. The great emperor Khan, conqueror of Eurasia, indiscriminant slaughterer of entire civilian populations, would have enjoyed the threesome's off-kilter comedy and Brooklyn-based alterna-flows. On Tuesdays and Thursdays, MC's Heems, Kool A.D., and hype man Dap would have been brought before Khan to perform as he sipped fine oolong and got manicured.
How much conquering could one man do? Khan's political advisors bored him to death, so he would have sought relief in Das Racist's half-assed, smart-assed, sluff-rap wit cracking. Combination Pizza Hut/Taco Bells had yet to hit Mongolia, and it would have brought Khan joy to know such pimply constructs of urban sprawl could be addressed musically. With Das Racist's 2011 release, Relax, Khan would have realized that's exactly what he needed to do—stop conquering, and spend more time on his silk pillows with his wives. And pelts.
Paid for by Committee to Reelect Judge North, P.O. Box 27113, Seattle, WA 98165
For Relax, Das Racist received production work from Diplo, Rostam Batmanglij of Vampire Weekend, and Yeasayer's Anand Wilder. For Khan, and his new pillow-wife time, the song "Booty in the Air" would prove anthemic: "She got her booty in the air like her booty was a cloud/And when her booty clap, you know the booty clap loud." One Tuesday, at the height of Khan's affection for Das Racist, Heems would accidentally joke about the emperor's thin mustache in a rap, and be instantly beheaded. No one was allowed to make fun of the great Khan. Thus, Kool A.D. would be dumped into a sewage pit, and Dap, with his eyes gouged out, would groom Khan's hypoallergenic poodles for the rest of his life. Dap spoke from a van in Austin, Texas, on the way to their sound check, eyes intact.
After your Bumbershoot set here, some people were upset with your performance. They said Das Racist was lazy, and half-assed. What do you have to say to that?
It takes a lot of work to tour. I'm not sure what people are comparing us to. I gotta be honest: Sometimes the shows aren't so great. Sometimes, people in the band don't want to do that much work during a show, and it definitely does come off as being lazy and half-hearted. But lots of shows are great. Some are good, some are bad; it's just the nature of the business. As for that show in particular, I personally, as Dap, will apologize. But I'm not going to apologize on behalf of the band, or defend anything we do to anyone else. If they don't like it, they can go listen to something else. I'm singing and dancing. I'm not complaining. This is an easy job compared to someone who has to chop large piles of wood into bits.
What motivates Das Racist?
Making money. And travel, which is becoming much less of an interest to us. Making money, and avoiding having to wake up early to have another job.
Is Seattle a racist place?
I don't know, how am I supposed to answer that? The people I've met in Seattle are a weird, rarified group of people. They're literally community activists, and antiracist people. What makes a place racist? Is it people walking around without shirts on, shaved heads, and swastika tattoos on their forehead? Not really, right? New York is probably more racist than other places, even though on the street you wouldn't think so because it's a melting pot. Seattle is less racist than most cities in the US, I think.
Where is the most racist place y'all have ever been?
Frankfurt, Germany. The people there are ugly, pink, pig-faced animals. It's a shame many of them weren't destroyed in World War II.
What does it mean to be a credible rapper?
When I was growing up, if a rapper was good or credible, they had good songs, and could rap well. There was more a general consensus of what rap was good then, and what rap was bad, for better or for worse. Now, I feel it's more open in a lot of ways for people to be weird and not necessarily rap traditionally well to be considered credible rappers and make money rapping. It's a real case-by-case basis. On who is, and what is credible rapping, I don't think it's an important question anymore. You can do a video, or have one catchy song, and get someone to give you money based on your potential marketability. But for me, what makes a credible rapper? Being good at rapping.
What do you think about the McDonald's Hamburglar?
The Hamburglar is creepy. It's weird that he'd steal such low-priced food products. Where he could just rob a rich person and then buy thousands of hamburgers. Why steal hamburgers? He should just steal a fucking car. I think he's a creepy fuck. Grimace is the man. Grimace doesn't need to rob anyone. If he asked me for my food, I'd give him anything he wanted.
Who is your favorite rapper?
Raekwon, MF Doom are good. There's a million awesome rappers. I can't answer that.
Talk about your ties to Glenn Beck. One of y'all took a linguistic anthropology class from him at Wesleyan.
Glenn Beck sucks. Linguistic anthropology, sure. He's an alcoholic, a cokehead, and he repented. And he's a demon on television.
If Das Racist were on that old show Fantasy Island, with Ricardo Montalban and Tattoo, what would your fantasy be?
There'd be a lot of pretty women around. Lots of high-quality food products. High-quality narcotics. Marijuana that you could pluck freshly from a tree and would dry within minutes into a smokable form. There would be large, furry, incredibly friendly animals. Any time you picked up a musical instrument, you'd be a maestro. It would be very green, with waterfalls all over the place, and large and fragrant flowers.
What was Korea like for Das Racist?
We played in Busan, [South] Korea. We all got drunk and split up one night getting in cars to go a couple blocks back to the hotel. Then we realized the car I was in was not going toward the hotel. They have all these "love hotels" where people go to have sex. They look alike, and we didn't really remember the name. Our manager forgot to take a business card from the hotel. There are neon signs everywhere, we couldn't tell the difference. We ended up spending nine hours and hundreds of dollars on taxis driving around Korea. We got back at 10:00 am. It was ridiculous.
On Relax, you all have multiple producers. How did that come about?
We started talking to Diplo on the internet. He sent beats to us, probably his throwaway beats. Rostam we know from New York. He made a beat specifically for us. Anand is another person we know through musical friends. I was supposed to move into an apartment with one of his bandmates years ago, but it never worked out—a little fun fact there. He gave us a bunch of beats and actually came into the studio.
How do Das Racist write songs?
The same as any other group. Heems usually writes everything. Vic [Kool A. D.] has piles of stuff, and works on ideas, usually on tour, until they become songs. In the beginning they would listen to the beat over and over again, like any rapper does, and sort of consult each other. Now sometimes they work together, sometimes they flesh out ideas separately. There's no goofy process, really. Everyone smokes weed and shit. There's not too much beer drinking anymore.
Who are you listening to on this tour?
I don't listen to a whole lot when we're on tour, actually. I like Danny Brown. I just heard the new A$AP Rocky mixtape.
Who do you want to work with next?
[Someone in the van says, "Dipset."] Yeah, Dipset. I want to work with people on a non-music basis. We've been working on a comedy show. I'd rather get people to play themselves on a TV show rather than make stupid songs that we don't want to listen to after a week. That being said, I'd like to work with Alicia Keys. There could be a skit where she punches Cam'ron in the jaw, and they have a big rap beef.
What do Das Racist think of the Occupy movement?
Occupy Wall Street is awesome. It's inclusive enough to include a lot of peoples' grievances and concerns without closing itself off to people of color. I'm not completely in the loop because we have been on tour. We've seen a few of the Occupys in some downtowns we've been in along away. When we get back to New York, I'm going to check it out. I read today that some people from Tahrir Square in Egypt came to Oakland to support the occupation there because they shot all that tear gas and fractured the skull of a war veteran. I'd say we are wholeheartedly in support of the movement. We're middle-class kids of color. So it's in our best interest to be in favor of causes that help us.
Your next album is all Hamburglar. Screw Taco Bell.
Yeah. We'll have the big corporate push. It'll be available with all Happy Meals. They're printing up three-and-a-half million copies.
This article has been updated since its original publication.