December 3, 2012

The important thing to remember is that Das Racist isn’t really going away, at least for now. The group’s three members—Heems, Kool A.D. & Dapwell—are all talented, prolific dudes who’ve released solo mixtapes, started business ventures, and generally seemed like the type not prone to fading away just because their most obvious avenue of brand building just got shut off.

But there’s something instructive about the group’s existence and what they accomplished in their short time that’s actually worth thinking about in a music culture inundated with think pieces, in which much ado is often made about nothing. Despite their joke rap origins and permanently blase personality affectations, Das Racist was as serious as Charlie Rose when it came to synthesizing a naturally sensitive and hilarious approach toward modern culture that encompassed celebrity and race and personal politics, capable of spitting dada nonsense and getting reflective without seeming disingenuous. They disavowed the notion of rap authenticity while acting true to themselves, even if that meant they’d never scratch the cover of a Spin or a Rolling Stone. I used to live with an aspiring rapper who claimed to be casual acquaintances with the group, and he told me that they would’ve loved to crack into the mainstream scene, get invited to the Source Awards, have their songs remixed by Diddy and such. Listen closely and you could sense that tender affinity for the medium, regardless of whatever faux braggadocio it was dressed in. That they were apparently unwilling to compromise their approach in order to achieve such measures of success, even as it might have contained them to simply being kings of the art rap scene, afforded them a level of credibility that other rappers have tried and failed to buy.

It’s a bummer that they won’t be collaborating in the near future, but their unwavering standard toward doing themselves might be the most resonant after effect from their career, regardless of how well “Rainbow in the Dark” will hold up over the next 20 years. (I’m guessing well.) Be funny or flippant or half-covered in shadows and signifiers if that’s what you want, but the passion will come through if you give a shit. Das Racist might not have accomplished everything they wanted, but they got this far is more than impressive.

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