First your parents and now this: postmodern genius morons and Combat! blog favorites Das Racist have broken up. It was a move that shocked everyone who did not listen to anything Himanshu Suri or Victor Vasquez have said or done in the past year. Both Vasquez—better known as Kool AD—and Heems released solo mixtapes this year, and each emcee was conspicuously absent from the other’s. Then on Friday, Heems was the only one to appear onstage at a Das Racist show in Munich, where he told the audience, “I’m gonna do some Das Racist songs, but Das Racist is breaking up and we’re not a band anymore.” On Twitter, Kool AD indignantly replied that he “quit Das Racist 2 months ago and was asked by our manager not to announce it yet.”
Here’s Heems’s tweet from Sunday in response to that:
Dag—you may have a substance abuse problem. It’s possible that the cult success of these recent college graduates’ half-joking rap group led to some poor decision-making. Here I cite Kool AD’s couplet from his uneven 51, “my bad I slept through the session yesterday / but you gotta admit, though, that’s hella Bay.” Much like the Beastie Boys in the late eighties, Das Racist made up for their comparative educational and socio-economic advantages—anti-cred in the contemporary rap world—by posing as drug-addled fools. Also like the Beastie Boys in the early eighties, they weren’t really faking it.
The difference, of course, is that Das Racist never lived up to its full potential. Maybe that was the point, anyway; it was certainly an underlying motif in their brown-at-Wesleyan theme. To watch an interview with the band was to experience the giddy thrill of intelligence acting stupid, which begins at irony and progresses to simple profligacy. At some point, you’re not acting anymore.
But Das Racist never reached that point. Whether they were lazily repeating lines or faking a mistake to set up a startling rhyme, they poised their music on the line between smart and stupid to transcend both. At a moment when rap seemed like it would never emerge from the idiotic mythology of gangsta materialism, they were real. Perhaps the ugliest indictment of contemporary hip hop is the way in which “real” has come to mean commitment to the genre’s obviously false conceits. Sloppy, inventive and self-deprecating, Das Racist was real in a way that Rick Ross was not.
“Keeping it real” also tends to mean “having no long-term plan,” and in that way Das Racist was pretty real, too. It was hard to think that they could hold things together for long, and the unifying feature of yesterday’s demise-of-the-band articles was grim unsurprise. Like the Wright Brothers’ first airplane, Das Racist was too beautiful to stay aloft for long. Also it was very poorly made, and the pilots were drunk 25 year-olds. But O, the ambition, and O the exhilaration when it took off.
As usual in these situations, the real victim is the hype man. The only member of Das Racist who didn’t release a solo mixtape this year was Dapwell. He is also author of perhaps the saddest take on the end of Das Racist, which he offered to Spin:
I was bummed when we actually broke up, when it was done, mostly because it was a way to make money really easily. Now, I probably won’t be able to make money that easily ever again. But we had a plan to break up around May. We had just signed this record deal and we were going to put out one proper album and then go on a farewell tour, release a proper breaking up statement that could have been really funny, maybe a weird, stupid video. Now, all of that has gone to shit.
Gone to shit it has. But it started beautifully.