Das Racist: Deconstructing The Rappers' References

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Over the past two years, Das Racist has been a Pitchfork favorite and highly revered for their witty, perhaps smarmy delivery of mostly historical and pop-culture references. The duo - trio if you include their hypeman, Dap, and quartet if you include their hypeman's hypeman, Lakutis - is coming to Texas to perform at SXSW in Austin and in Houston March 22 at Fitzgerald's with Fat Tony, Muhammidali, and Simple Success.

Following is a list of lines from tracks off of the first DR mixtape, Shut Up, Dude, as well as two other single releases. It is by no means is a comprehensive deconstruction, but we recommend that you take a harder listen to these dudes' lyrics - you might learn something new.

"Hugo Chavez" (Shut Up):

"MOMA, momma, thrown off the train. General Dyer, blown off the brain."

  • MOMA: Abbreviation for New York's Museum of Modern Art.
  • Throw Momma from the Train was a 1987 movie starring Billy Crystal and Danny DeVito.
  • Reginald Dyer was a British Indian Army officer responsible for the Jallianwala Bagh Massacre in Amritsar, where 379 unarmed civilians - an unofficial number; many say it could have been as high as 2,000 - were killed and more than 1,000 injured. Dyer died of cerebral hemorrhaging in 1927.

"Plus-size model, minority, no Dinesh D'Souza. More like from Fallujah, so holla you loser/ John Philip Sousa, uses and abuses."

  • Suri has been known to criticize a celebrity or two, including academic and author Dinesh D'Souza: "He's on some model-minority bullshit. I ain't down with that."
  • John Philip Sousa was an American composer who wrote the official march of the United States Marine Corps, "Semper Fidelis," as well as many other American war anthems.
  • Fallujah is a city in the Iraqi province of Al Anbar; its inhabitants were victims of violence and war crimes by American troops in the Fallujah Offensive of 2004.

"Speaking In Tongues":

"We are DR, Troopers like VR. Gerard Depardieu, young green card."

  • VR Troopers (Virtual Reality Troopers) was a live action television show similar to Mighty Morphin Power Rangers from 1994-96.
  • French actor Gerard Depardieu won the 1991 Golden Globe for Best Actor In a Musical or Comedy for his performance in 1990's Green Card.


"I'm living single, it's a '90s world; catch me in a bar with, like, 90 girls: 40 Synclaires, 20 Latifah-Khadijah types, 30 Maxines that I'll probably freak tonight."

  • Not only is this one of Rocks Off's favorite DR lines, it's a reference to the lead female characters in the Fox's '90s sitcom Living Single, where Queen Latifah played Khadijah James.)

"And my crew? A young SFJ writing haikus, ordering Thai food."

  • SFJ stands for Sasha Frere-Jones, a writer for The New Yorker who claimed that hip-hop was dead in a 2009 article. Victor Vasquez, also known as Kool A.D., and Himanshu Suri, Heems, responded with a rebuttal essay and series of 24 haikus.

"Rainbow In The Dark" (Shut Up):

"I'm in the building, building with Belding. Ask for whom the bell rings, DR/ Something like a neo-rap Zack Attack, finna spark an L and have myself a Big Mac attack."

  • Mr. Belding was the name of the Principal of Bayside High School on the popular NBC Saturday-morning '90s teen TV series Saved By The Bell. Zack Attack was a band formed by the characters on an episode of the show.

"Who's That? Brown" (Shut Up):

"Now some, may I say, call me Heems/ The word is the herb, and I'm deep like Cream. The truth like Bruce, yes, Baker and Clapton/ Cruisin' down the block, I'm riding shotty in a Magnum."

  • Both the hook and the structure for the beginning of Heems' verse come from A Tribe Called Quest's "Scenario" from 1990's The Low End Theory.
  • Cream was the '60s psychedelic blues-rock trio of Jack Bruce, Ginger Baker and Eric Clapton, best known for the songs "White Room," "Sunshine of Your Love" and a high-octane cover of Robert Johnson's "Crossroads."

"Chicken & Meat" (Shut Up):

"Black cop, black cop. Black cop, black cop, black cop/ You don't even get paid a whole lot, you don't even get paid a whole lot/ Finna buy me a spaceship, space race man, das space racist/ Overseer, overseeroverseeroverseer, officerofficerofficer, why you want to put me in a coffin, sir? Why you want to put me in a coffin, sir? Watch the gap, mind the gap, fall into the gap."

See songs:

  • KRS-One, "Black Cop"
  • Geto Boys, "Mr. Officer"
  • Rage Against The Machine, "Sound of Da Police"
  • Signs on New York public transit stations usually warn passengers to "watch the gap" or "mind the gap" between the subway and the platform. "Fall into the Gap" was also the slogan for apparel chain The Gap.

Follow Rocks Off on Facebook and on Twitter at @HPRocksOff.

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