Part of the sizzle that made Das Racist last year’s favorite new hip-hop act was their undeniable ability at being true wordsmiths. Sure, there was heaps and heaps of frenetic vigor on their two respective ’10 mixtapes, Shut Up, Dude and Sit Down, Man, but beneath the attraction of two playful MCs and a production line that scattered from electronic to grimy dubstep to b-boy delectable chants galore, Das Racist prevailed on their magnificent skill as emcees. Never the kind to slack quality for quantity, the Brooklyn-based group filled every single corner with prolific gems that enabled their mixtapes the longevity and more over, substance, to become critical darlings.
Through the near forty songs they released last year, they came away with a modest fourteen for their debut LP, Relax. While not everything is entirely new, Das Racist takes the strengths off their mixtapes and simply take them on a new adventure with Relax. As if they’re speaking to the listener once again, they ask us to take a seat, calm down and enjoy the new sounds they’ve embarked on. From the outset it’s clear that the rappers’ verses have been obviously enlarged and now, they consist of layered stories that turn into true song structures. The opening title track serves as juxtaposition between vocal cadences and horn stabs, and the bumping bass that surrounds it. By the time the emcees have left the scene all that is left is a laughing synthesizer as it rides against the left-over bass.
Most of the same flash that made their mixtapes such quick loves is still all over the spectrum on Relax. It’s not so much that the sounds are tempered in a way but Das Racist take the LP form to a professional manner with focused, lean, tight songs that showcase their talents with amazing standards. So if people came to expect the wiry, intertwined tension of a frantic mixtape, Relax isn’t the place for you. However, the group doesn’t take away any quality from their compositions and instead, shine in light of it all. “Girl” glistens with sparkling production and the music is definitely ready for a poppier affair but the styles converse for a greater resurface of multi-faceted deliveries. While it might be at first something too dissimilar, the idiosyncratic references each MC makes are undoubtedly great.
And in terrific fashion, the group outdoes themselves by following the aforementioned luster with “Shut Up, Man” and its booming, dark overtones. Featuring El-P, every verse grows with more and more creativity and flow, before the towering beats have taken over. But whether it’s the inclusion of something proudly developed from last year like “Rainbow in the Dark,” and the sheer manner it is sequenced in, or the wild traverse of “Middle of the Cake,” Das Racist continue to present their best ideas forward. Ultimately music as enjoyable as this shouldn’t be dissected with such a skewed eye but when the depth is filled with abundant ideas around then it’s definitely possible. Either way, Das Racist won’t be conforming to anyone’s wishes any time soon and really, we shouldn’t have it any other way.