Das actually politically correct

The enigmatic indie-rap trio will be bringing their jokes, rhymes and beats to the Cave in Northfield.

The Brooklyn-based trio’s signature brand of “joke rap” raised plenty of eyebrows.

Photo courtesy Caroline Mort

The Brooklyn-based trio’s signature brand of “joke rap” raised plenty of eyebrows.

Raghav Mehta

If Black Star were ever forced into a studio booth with nothing but Bollywood movies, a fully loaded gravity bong and enough Noam Chomsky to inspire a revolution, the result would probably sound something like Das RacistâÄôs last two mixtapes.

Of course, this analogy alone doesnâÄôt do the music justice.

When the Brooklyn-based trio released their now-infamous single, âÄúCombination Pizza Hut and Taco Bell,âÄù most of the indie elite were quick to sweep them under the rug of trivial nonsense. But amidst all the unabashed absurdity loaded into their music, itâÄôs evident that Das Racist has something intelligent to say.

ItâÄôs just unclear what exactly that is.

Originally founded by MCs Victor Vazquez and Himanshu Suri,Das RacistâÄôs humble beginnings can be traced back to ConnecticutâÄôs Wesleyan University âÄî a peculiar place for a rowdy rap group to form. After enlisting longtime friend Ashok Kondabolu as their designated hype man, the three-man outfit started drawing the attention of hip-hop heads and the East Coast intelligentsia with the release of their 2008 mixtape âÄúShut Up, Dude.âÄù

âÄúI liked [SuriâÄôs] raps because they were funny, and they didnâÄôt sound like most raps,âÄù Vazquez muttered over the phone.

And VazquezâÄôs description couldnâÄôt be more on-point.

Riddled with facetious non-sequiturs and cultural references that touch on everything from Bollywood superstar Amitabh Bachan to Nancy Reagan, Das RacistâÄôs latest release âÄúSit Down, ManâÄù delivers a bizarrely poignant brand of social commentary camouflaged by head-scratching gibberish.

For instance in âÄúEk Shaneesh,âÄù Suri raps: âÄúWatchinâÄô Tony Bourdain/ plus I copped his book/ plus I copped his look âĦ that means T-shirt and jeans.âÄù ItâÄôs moments like these that illustrate how the group tends to provoke more laughs than contemplation.

And unlike most socially conscious hip hop, Das RacistâÄôs political message (when there is one) is couched more heavily in detached absurdity than seething anger.

âÄúWe have convictions obviously, whether we say so or not. I donâÄôt know if we even totally express them to each other, but we at least express them via jokes,âÄù Vazquez said.

The group isnâÄôt striving to change the world with the almighty pen. And that might be a good thing considering much of their more serious subject matter is bound to go over listenersâÄô heads.

Vazquez recalls a botched crowd interaction at a Haiti benefit show the group performed at last year.

Hoping to prompt a call-and-response moment with the audience, Suri commanded the crowd to yell the name of the 18th-century Haitian Revolution leader Toussaint Loverture, but the audience, most likely unfamiliar with the reference, stood there in silence.

ItâÄôs obvious that Das RacistâÄôs lyrical shtick is far too zany for 106-and-Park fame âÄî which is a shame since the groupâÄôs sound borrows more from commercial rap than the underground.

Nonetheless, itâÄôs wonderfully bewildering music that refuses to take itself seriously. And in a genre where ego and swagger is the standard, thereâÄôs something remarkably refreshing about that.