Das Racist on Odd Future, Rick Ross, and being super geniuses; show Saturday at The Granada

Das Racist on Odd Future, Rick Ross and being super geniuses.



Das Racist is at the Granada on Saturday. If you don't know the NYC rap punks from Adam, educate yourself here. We recently checked in with member Ashok "Dap" Kondabolu from the lobby of his Chicago hotel.

The Pitch: So you’re having trouble getting into your hotel?

Yeah, we’re lingering in the lobby. Should only be a couple of minutes.

Are you at a Motel 6 or the Ritz-Carlton?

[Laughs.] We’re in something between a Motel 6 and, like, a fancy joint.

[Call is dropped.] Hello?

Oh no, the phone died? I was babbling. What was the last thing I said? Oh yeah, so the chorus for "Michael Jackson" and "Combination Pizza Hut and Taco Bell" both came from Victor’s song. They pulled out that one part and said it over and over again. Then a larger message got attributed to the song, which happens all the time. Why is a song any less legitimate or beautiful or interesting if it’s not some stupid blatant bullshit message song that some corny fucking idiot with a guitar made? I’m not going to pretend it was made with that intention.

Why do you think it took off so quickly?

I don’t know. It’s a dumb song, very repetitive, and I think this country is pretty dumb. I think a lot of people latched on to the simplicity of the song. They thought it was silly, and it’s a fun thing to yell when you’re drinking crappy beer in the middle of America somewhere.

It’s such an obvious thing to kind of wonder about because it's such a weird concept anyway. I mean, why do you have to combine a Pizza Hut and Taco Bell in the first place?

[Laughs.] Yeah, I don’t think the depressing aspect of that got lost on everybody. It’s a miserable, miserable thing.

Humor clearly plays a pivotal role in your music. Do you think some of that has been lost in mainstream hip-hop?

It’s weird because a lot of the personalities are insanely huge. I mean, not insanely, but they are jovial dudes. Rick Ross is really a funny dude. I don’t think a lot of people want that or at least that’s not how things have been for a period of time. And people just listen to what’s on the radio, essentially. In the early '90s and shit, there were a lot more opportunities to be funny.

Speaking of, have you seen the Beats, Rhymes and Life documentary about A Tribe Called Quest?

Nah, not yet. People ask us that all the time. I should probably watch it.

Yeah, it’s time to watch that. They kind of cover some of that. They were considered weird, eccentric people, but they did their own thing and it worked. People liked it. You guys have a little of that going on.

True. I think a lot of it is tied into the fact that the majority of people, at least those with the purchasing power, that are white Americans or whatever, they wanted a certain depiction of African-American life and a certain type of African-American art that falls into old roles of machismo and depicting urban poverty. When they see these alternative depictions, I don’t think they’re interested because it’s not the image they want to buy into. That’s why we’ll see white kids at our shows kind of like, you know, fronting and insinuating that we’re cornballs and white. And I’m like, ‘You’re white, you’re actually white! I could beat the shit out of you, and I know, like, drug dealers, too, and shit.' [Laughs.]

Are you guys super geniuses?

[Laughs.] Uh, you’re pretty funny. I think we’re pretty well-read. I don’t know. I sat around a lot, and these dudes went to college. I sat around for five years reading and doing weird shit in New York because I didn’t go to school. There was a lot of time when I did that instead of working.

If Das Racist could say one thing about society, what would it be?

Take it easy.

Your music has been described as “sawing the legs off hip-hop.” Can you elaborate on that?

Someone had written that about us. I think we generally don’t like making large statements about hip-hop and our role in hip-hop, plus that’s insane and no one knows who we are anyway.

Yeah, right.

I think whoever wrote that was saying we were just big goofs in the beginning and we were trying to make some kind of commentary about hip-hop in our music, and they thought it was refreshing. But I don’t like this whole idea that we’re coming in, looking around and mocking things. It’s just not accurate and not true at all. We’re just rap fans that like rap and we happen to be funny ass dudes and shit. In the age of the Internet, things happen exponentially fast, I suppose, so it takes much less time for a reaction to happen. To get a comedic response takes three or four days.

You just answered one of my questions kind of inadvertently about how big of a role the Internet plays in making an artist successful.

Oh yeah, it’s everything. It’s insane. I mean, Odd Future wouldn’t exist without the Internet. Those dudes blew up in less than a year. We’ve met Tyler once, and those kids are going insane.

How was it to collaborate with El-P, who has kind of a dark overtone to his material?

It’s funny, we have a mutual friend, Alex Despot. He was on Def Jux for a while. Eventually, he thought our shit was great. We started hanging out and we’re all from New York, and I had been listening to El-P’s shit for a long time. We went over to his house and we had similar senses of humor.

So El-P’s a funny guy?

He’s a mad funny guy, oh yeah. ‘Dark ‘ is kind of corny or it sounds kind of pretentious. Whenever I think of the word ‘dark,’ I think of someone British, I don’t know why.

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