Das Racist: In Memoriam. Confessions of a Former Superfan
By Sound Check
December 4, 2012
My roommate/concert-going-wingman called me sunday night waking me from a mid-afternoon nap and snapped “omg! have you heard the devastating news? Das Racist broke up! I’m SO upset”. In a half-sleep haze I said “oh no! yawn” as if it was a phone call from a job interview “saying I didn’t get the job” based on an interview I knew I bombed– I wasn’t surprised. I was strange-sad, but I went back to sleep. I was woken up again from the constant buzzing of my phone from other friends who knew me as THE Das Racist fanatic of any crew, texts ranging from “have you been on twitter?” and “Did you hear about Das Racist?”. I texted back a series of sad-face-emoticons and went back to sleep. It didn’t hit me until about 24 hours later as I read all of the RIP blog posts all over the interweb, and now I’m sad while everyone else is over it.
By: Alexandria Gamlin, AFROPUNK Content Editor & former DR superfan
I honestly don’t remember the “first time” I heard Das Racist and I don’t have an Oprah-AH-HA moment of when I decided that they were my new favorite band, but it was in 2010 and Shut Up, Dude was a new internet buzztape. I’m sure I was just bored at work and decided to download Shut Up, Dude and listen to these guys I had heard about here and there. I DO remember being like DAMMMN when “All Tan Everything” came on, and I listened to that tape for the rest of the day. And the day after, and after, and after and after. 2 weeks in, I played it while being the iPod DJ after a night of sloppy drunkeness that inevitably lead us to a White Castle. I laughed and said “OH! I got just the song, and played “Rainbow in the Dark“. Victor blurts in the opening line “I’m at the White Castle (I don’t see you here dawg) tiny-ass hamburgers, tiny-ass cheeseburgers!” and my two friends (the 3 of us are affectionately known as the Black Girl Mob) were like “Is this those Das Racist boys? Oh shit! This is hot!”. I was all like “I KNOW!” and played “Chicken and Meat”. After that, it wasn’t just me fanning out alone to something I stumbled upon, we were all unofficial Das Racist closet groupies.
From then on, anything Das Racist affiliated was PRIORITY! My first show was at Glasslands Gallery in Williamsburg. I tried to rally 6 different friends to come with me, all of which didn’t care enough to fuck with Glasslands in the summertime because of it’s notorious lack of ventilation (this is BEFORE they got an air conditioner). I managed to get my friend Cagney to go. The second we entered he goes “WOO ITS LIKE JAMAICA IN HERE” and we both began to sweat instantly. The show had started already, but it was easy to get to the front because everyone there was hot, not dancing, and seemed to be confused about who these drunk rappers were. NOT ME! Cagney and I were wailing and flailing around in the front, singing every word (well, *I* was singing every word. Cagney was just having fun laughing at me being a drunktard). I slapped hands with one of them on stage and continued to sweat my life away. After the show, I drunkenly stumbled around Glasslands and ended up face-to-face with Victor who looked as if he wanted to talk to ME! He said “heyyy, thanks for coming out” to which my inner-tween “said OMG, YOU GUYS ARE GREAT (SLUR) I JUST THINK YOU GUYS ARE GREAT (SLUR) UM I CANT TALK TO YOU OR ELSE IM GOING TO EMBARRASS MYSELF (STUMBLE AWAY). I was mad at myself for weeks.
That was my first of what would become 20+ Das Racist live shows. There was the Sit Down, Man release party at Santos that Black Girl Mob got to DUMB early so we could be in the front. That’s when I discovered I had friends who knew these guys! They were all up on stage making dicks of themselves, and I tried to avoid them. I wanted to lose myself and dance and NOT be on stage on some look-at-me shit. THIS WAS IMPORTANT. There was The CMJ show where I nearly clobbered some white girl to get to the front, and while Victor sang the ending of “Rapping to You” he reached for my hand, held it, and looked me square in the eyeballs and sang “rapping to you, my friend and only you”. Almost died. I soon learned that he does that EVERY time he sings that song. But that time, he rapped to me. They had another CMJ show the day after that; I was in attendance. There was the Southpaw show they did days before they went to China for the first time– I was so emotional at the show, because it was like they were going on tour and never coming back. SO EMOTIONAL/DRUNK! There was the 3rd Ward/DANGER Halloween performance. The thing about these Danger raves are the doors open at like…8 but everyone knows it’s not poppin til around 1am…we were there at 8pm. That was also the night I got my first Das Racist ReTweet. DIED. There was that show at the Highline Ballroom where their main man, Danny Brown was just starting to break out in NYC and he was their opener. Being from Detroit, I was GEEKED to see him in NY and shout 7mile! 7mile! all night long. This is the same night Danny was signed to Fools Gold. This is also the same night I had to peel my friend off some white girl who threw a drink in her face. I told her “What? you wanna get us kicked out BEFORE we get to see Das Racist?” Like magic, she calmed down.
This was around the time I started writing for AFROPUNK. I had already made everyone at AFROPUNK HQ annoyed/aware that I was alone in the world as the single-biggest DR fan EVER TO EXIST! So they did me a solid and let ME do an email interview with them. I was 10 seconds away from throwing up every other 10 seconds. In my eyes, the Das Racist were SO smart–surely smarter than I was. Every interview I’d ever read (I’d read them all) they were always slightly dickish, sarcastic and had some slap-in-the-face answer to any question they thought was wack. But sheesh, I’m no slouch! I read! I graduated from a private white university too! I get jokes! I wanted them to think I was smart and cool, and I wanted to share with AFROPUNK just how dope my favorite band was. I toiled in my kitchen for HOURS, crying, pacing around, listening to their songs over and over, until I felt like I had something of worth. They weren’t mean to me and answered my questions (phew!) and when the interview was published it, I thanked the boys, sent them the link. I got a one word response from Dap which was a correction to a typo I had made in the first few sentences. TEARS FOR HOURS. (read that fateful interview HERE)
January 2011, I moved to Detroit and Danny Brown was having a show. No way I was missing it. My friend was working in Columbus, OH and after I tweeted my excitement about Danny Brown and DR in Detroit she yelped via twitter and asked me to come get her in Ohio for the show. NO DOUBT! ROAD TRIP! That trip turned into us getting stuck in monumental blizzard in central Ohio, in January missing the entire show. devastated.
The next Detroit show was different. I was living in Detroit having took a year-long New York sabbatical, but was still working with AFROPUNK and were gearing up for the 2011 festival. I was working for a Detroit culture mag with my friends and I pushed for us to get an interview. The show was at The Crowfoot..a tiny grimey little spot. Dopehead, Danny Brown, Das Racist–So Awesome! They were gearing up for their last song of their set and asked the audience “what song should we play”. Being that I was drunk and in the front I blurted SPEAKING IN TOUNGES way too loud for some dudes listening for an answer 10 feet away. They played it… it’s my favorite.
We found their manager and she led us to the bottom of the club where the boys were chilling with Danny Brown, Dopehead and a random assortment of Bruiser Brigade dudes. We had a camera, and looked semi official, but I was the only one really invested, actually CARED about Das Racist and was actually nervous about an interview (given my previous interview/history). I should have been over it, but this is ME we’re talking about. I had a prepared list of questions, and I did my best to not look crazed/too drunk. They playfully and awesomely answered and joked along. 3 questions in, Heems ubrutly got up and walked out the room. I was a little sad, but I nonchalantly slipped the rest of my questions into my back pocket and was happy for the footage we got. But the next thing I knew, Heems came back into the room and apologized. He simply said “I don’t really get to see these guys that often, so i just wanted to see them out. Where are the rest of your questions? I saw you had more…. *_* years of fandom, worth it in that moment.
They kept talking to us, and I didn’t know why… but I didn’t ask. I was paranoid we were looking too “fan-y” (forgetting I was the only one who was a “fan”) but I just stood in awe and joined in the conversation. At one point Heems said he wanted to interview US. So we let him.
As we exited the now extremely empty club Heems invited us to keep on chillin! My crew and I said, sure that sounded cool (translation: *die*). As we walked through the parking lot Heems asked me “Hey Alex, do you want to ride with us and listen to the new album?”. “Album” being RELAX that was slated to come out a month later. The “album” I had pre-ordered weeks previous. I said “yea, sure” (translation: *resurrection* *die again*). I sat in the middle of the backseat smushed in between Victor and Dap and we chatted about the midwest, their Lollapoloza performance the next day, Detroit, and some other drunk muttering. Heems announced he was going to play his favorite song which was a poppy little dream of a hit called “Girl”. I said, Hmm, man…I don’t know about this one.. it’s a little poppy…
That’s the song they licensed to Kmart for 30k and has certainly (DUH) grown on me. *facepalm*
We chilled for a while and Victor offered me a bite of his frozen stoffer’s lasagne, which I accepted like a little drunk and hungry beast. Dap made my friend Kate a cup of tea, and we listened to the album and talked about the AFROPUNK festival that was coming up in a few weeks. We left, I said see you guys back in NY, we drove home and i died again. I went to work the next day and retold the story like it could have been a dream I had. I probably HAVE had a dream like that before. Like, “Yo, i had this dream..i was with Das Racist in some car listening to the album and then Victor gave me some of his lasagne…what does it meeeeaaaan?!”
We all know a bitch named Hurricane Irene ruined that festival and it never happened. Alas.
I see the DR boys all around town now. Hell, their boys Lakutis and DVS Blast are now part of Black Girl Mob’s cheeseburger coalition #BURGERGANG. I’m up in The Flat all the got damn time now, just like every got damn body in Williamsburg, so the DR mystique has worn off, and now I’m just a regular jaded brooklyn afro girl who has a lot of rapper friends. But that’s the way love goes, and that’s the way growing up goes.
Maybe that’s why I wasn’t so shook at the news of the breakup. I guess me and DR broke up a long time ago, just all of this blog talk got me reminiscent about the good old days.
It’s like if you break up with your boyfriend/girlfriend and 3 years go by, you’re probably still going to cry when you hear he or she is getting married. That kind of thing.
RIP Das Racist. You had me and Black Girl Mob speaking in DR lyrics like fucking code. Had everybody thinking we were weirdos with that shit, but we didn’t care. Always saying everything was “complex”. I bought the T-Shirt, The Vinyl and have traveled to sing songs I’ve sang 300 times. We had fun, so thanks for the fun. I’ll never forget that time my dad said “woooo, this is ROUGH!” when I played him “Rooftop”. That was hilarious.