Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Das Racist

  • Shut Up, Dude [Mishka download, 2010] A-
  • Sit Down, Man [Mad Decent download, 2010] A-
  • Relax [Greedhead, 2011] A

Consumer Guide Reviews:

Shut Up, Dude [Mishka download, 2010]
Just like albums you pay for, both 2010 mixtapes from the Queens-W'burg-Wesleyan duo of color are seriously front-loaded, tailing off to scattered cherry bombs after half a dozen Roman candles. But on this debut (already hard to find, so get on it), the default electro loops sometimes reduce their unfailingly clever rhymes to merely clever free associations. Lines like "Hugo Chavez"'s "W.E.B. DuBois/We be de boyz" are worth hearing in any context, and partly as a result, "Hugo Chavez" is above the median anyway. But it's not the wicked "Fake Patois," which is even funnier as well as deeper than the super-catchy and more frequently cited cellphone-culture song masquerading as a fast-food song, "Combination Pizza Hit and Taco Bell." Goin' up like NASDAQ, they don't even know if they're BMI or ASCAP. Guys this intelligent had better learn, and they will. A-

Sit Down, Man [Mad Decent download, 2010]
More music, and also more name guests, with Jay-Z's casual title hook on "All Tan Everything" sunk a lot deeper than Jim Morrison's stolen title hook on "People Are Strange." Whether they end up more Jeezy than Jimbo is for them not to tell us and us to find out, which isn't to imply they wouldn't prefer Jeezy, or that the likes of "Hahahaha JK?" and "Julia" do anything less than suggest they have it in them. If they don't make that leap, their strictly verbal gifts areenough to take them someplace all their own anyway. But you have to wonder whether they'll ever deign and/or get it together to write actual songs. Are they really indie-rockers in disguise? Until they stop giving their records away, that'll be my read. A-

Relax [Greedhead, 2011]
Setting aside their dreams of biz advances and street glory, they form their own label to showcase a bunch of mostly alt-rock beats--meaning Chairlift and Yeasayer as opposed to MGMT--that reflect their actually existing cultural orientation and almost add up to a sound. Then they construct an album-not-mixtape around the theme of money, including the capital they accrued as they pursued their dreams. "Come to our shows and they're clapping again/Thank you my friends" isn't sarcastic, which doesn't mean it's devoid of irony or should be. "There's a brand new dance/Give us all your money/Everybody love everybody" is sarcastic. "Michael Jackson/A million dollars" is meta. "I ain't backing out till I own a bank to brag about" is protest. "I'm at the White Castle"/"I don't see you here dog" is follow-up. "Your booty is a lifeline" is a religious interlude. A

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