Interview Cameron Cook
Photography Dan Wilton
Sometime during ‘SUP’s extended Primavera partytime, I found myself somewhat reluctantly checking out horrorcore hip-hop sensations Odd Future at the Pitchfork stage. The group playing in the dark, their faces semi-obscured, jumping up and down and rambling incoherently between songs. I was struck with a bizarre, yet fairly obvious notion: didn’t Das Racist do this like, two years ago? And wasn’t it way more fun? Instead of creating controversy merely for the sake of it, Das Racist combine acerbic wit with deft social commentary, blurring issues of race, class, politics and other Big Issues through the type of simultaneous aggrandizing and deprecation that could only be created by someone so entrenched in Gen Y. With their two mixtapes, Shut Up, Dude and Sit Down, Man, released for free through Mediafire downloads and, at the time of publication, still unavailable on iTunes and Spotify, Das Racist never quite make their case and never quite refute it – it may be somewhat sloppy and rough at times, but it is what it is. It’s like they got really stoned, had a great idea, and never got un-stoned. They’re still very, very stoned.
Interviewing Das Racist at a festival is kind of like dragging a bag of horny cats up a hill in a rainstorm, albeit infinitely more enjoyable. In the hour we had with Himanshu “Heems” Suri, Victor “Kool A.D.” Vazquez and hype man/indispensable extra member Ashok “Dapwell” Kondabolu, girls followed their every move, illicit substances were exchanged with random punters, fans stopped to take their photo (Heems, shying away from the cameras: “That shit steals your soul. Now when people take my picture I either cover my face or I’m on my BlackBerry.”), and I received a sort of intense phone call from their tour manager, saying they had to be on stage… right then. “Oh, is it eight?” Heems said, a bit deadpan. “Yeah, we have to go play.” “I wish we could be in a band without playing all these shows,” Dap added, grinning, but kind of serious.
Das Racist’s first official album (although both Shut Up, Dude and Sit Down, Man are full-length), Relax, will be released this fall on their own label Greedhead. The album’s artwork features the band standing in front of a burning couch (presumably the couch they’re sitting on on the cover of both mixtapes), Heems is wearing a Panda Bear T-shirt, and it’s probably going to be amazing.
Himanshu: So this is the first thing I want to say. I just bought a hamburger, and that’s a Hin-don’t. That’s fine. I eat meat, I’m a Hindu, I’m practicing or whatever, but they also used to sacrifice zebras when they were praying, so what’s the big deal about having a hamburger?
Would you eat a zebra burger?
Himanshu: Probably! Would you?
Yeah, hell yeah! I’m all about eating fucked up animals.
Himanshu: I had duck once. (Yells) Whaaaaat!
Wait, dog or duck?
Himanshu: Duck, dude!
Duck is amazing! Duck-over-rice is my favorite Chinese food.
Himanshu: I know, but I wasn’t fucking with duck growing up, man! You know what I mean? I had duck once – (Exclaims jubilantly) Wooooo!
My friend Wefald once went to this carnivore food festival, and had a kangaroo burger.
Himanshu: Where, in Somalia?
Himanshu: In Australia, I mean?