Can "underground" rap still thrive? In an age of free mixtapes and artists manuevering around the industry without a major label, it's a subgenre that's getting harder to define, let alone pinpoint. But one of 2011's most interesting rap acts has the attitude and — most importantly — the songs to make the discussion worth having. And they'll be at D.C.'s 9:30 Club Saturday night.
Das Racist, a trio of intelligent (they met at Wesleyan) rappers of Indian and Afro-Cuban/Italian descent, earned some fans with the knowingly goofy "Combination Pizza-Hut and Taco Bell" in 2009. But since then, they've demanded — through the quality of their tapes and the stinging of their jokes — to be taken more seriously ... at least somewhat.
There's a sharp, sly humor in all of Das Racist's songs, usually aimed at race (sorry white people!), class and the absurd genre they work within. Das Racist headlines the "Relax" tour; its name taken from the album they just released on their own label. Watch the group's insane video for "Michael Jackson" (language might be NSFW) below:
Added bonus: weirdo rap-guy of the moment, Danny Brown, opens the show. While the rap blogs and commenters obsess over Brown's haircut (who cares?), they ought to be paying attention to his bars. Brown can spit, and he weaves narratives full of the vivid detail most rappers would gloss right over.
Das Racist and Danny Brown play 9:30 Club Saturday. Doors open at 11:30 p.m. Tickets, $20, are still available here.