With Danny Brown and Despot
Grand Central Miami
Sunday, October 9, 2011
Better Than: The graveyard shift at a combination Pizza Hut and Taco Bell.
A Lot Better Than: Langerado.
About a month ago, Langerado organizers announced that their reincarnated, two-day festival had been canceled. Did it come as a surprise? No. A disappointment? Not entirely. Quite frankly, the 31-act lineup -- give or take four -- was weak.
However, Langerado's loss was Grand Central's gain. Downtown Miami's best live music venue wisely booked Das Racist -- one of the aforementioned four -- a few days after Boros Entertainment pulled the plug on Langerado.
Like the school bus-load of underage troublemakers and would-be rappers that descended upon Downtown Miami to spit front-stage flows with Despot, Danny Brown, and Das Racist, we showed up way too early. Sure, the show started at 7 p.m. according to the eflyer. But shit didn't pop off until shortly after 8:30.
Rocking baggy khakis, a long-sleeved polo, and a flat-bill Utah Jazz hat, Detroit rapper C.H.I.P.S kicked shit off with a few tracks off his mixtape, Couch Potatoes. Dude's a member of the Bruiser Brigade, a self-proclaimed "sneaker collector" and "marijuana connoisseur."
Not giving a fuck, homeboy straight rhymed with a blunt in his hand on the first track, eventually donating it to the crowd after accidentally dropping and smushing it with his dope kicks.
Aleksey Weintraub, known as Lakutis, held fort behind the deck drinking from a Tijuana Flats cup and frequently dropping ironic mixtape sirens. Dude's a boss. More on him later.
Despot took the stage a little before 9 p.m., and introduced himself after the first track. "My name is Despot. I am from Queens. You are from Miami. How does that feel?" Someone yelled, "not good."
WTF? Love it or leave it. Just kidding, we get it.
Despot performed "new music" off his forthcoming album with Ratatat, the electro-pop outfit from New York. The juxtaposition of Ratatat's sick, Zelda theme-like beats and Despot's flow works masterfully. And the rapper's dedication to fitness is awe inspiring.
Tackling the American obesity crisis, Despot encourages the audience to follow him in a brief, mid-set aerobics break. He opts to run in place and intermittently pump the arms up and out in a "hooray" like fashion instead of asking stereotypical MC questions like, "How y'all feeling?" or "Do you like such-and-such?"
Half an hour after Despot killed it, Danny Brown, rocking a Jeremy Scott Adidas tiger tux hoodie, came out and rapped about smoking "blunt after blunt after blunt." He provided a perfect Detroit-style lube job to get the crowd wet for the main event, Das Racist.
After Brown's 40-minute set, the dudes from Das Racist kicked it with the crowd before hitting the stage. They posed for pictures, gave daps to flat-bill fanboys, and all around bullshitted with their fans.
Ashok "Dapwell" Kondabolu, Himanshu "Heems" Suri, and Victor "Kool A.D." Vasquez are incredibly humble dudes. Perhaps they don't realize their reach, or maybe choose not to pay it any mind. Whatever the case, Das Racist is much bigger than Das Racist realizes. Unlike other fame-made-online rap crews, these dudes don't bank on a lifestyle gimmick or irresponsibly push social boundaries.
Das Racist are smart dudes addressing real shit, albeit in a Dadaist package of quirky lyrics and catchy beats. If Colin Meloy were brown, he'd be in Das Racist. They're that level of smart.
At around 11, when the crew jumps on stage, they immediately break into Tonight Show mode, shaking hands with everybody in the first few rows. The only difference between them and Jay Leno, it feels authentic.
These dudes are happy we're listening, and quickly pose the question, "Who's that?" to which we all reply, "Brooown."
Somehow or another, an impromptu sing-along cover of Usher's "You Make Me Wanna" ensues. It's just one example of the type of ironic shit that goes down at a Das Racist show. Like Dapwell hanging on to a banana peel or Kool A.D. keeping active by testing Despot's aerobics.
The crew let LaKutis shine on a track off his upcoming EP, and they were joined by Despot and Danny Brown for the encore, which featured their version of Mr. Muthafuckin' eXquire's "The Last Huzzah!"
But our highlight happened mid-set. "Stop reducing us to sex objects," Heems said after someone asked him take off his shirt. "We've got a lot of different shit to say about a lot of different things."
He wasn't joking. Or maybe he was joking, just joking, or not joking. Whatever the case, he was being real. And Das Racist is the truth.
The Crowd: Underage kids with incredibly sophisticated hip hop taste, Puerto Rican cousins, and thrift store enthusiasts.
Random Dump: Best show of 2011
Partial Set List:
"Who's that? Brooown!"
"Brand New Dance"
"You Make Me Wanna" (Usher Cover)
"Rapping 2 U"
"Rooftop" feat. Despot
"You Oughta Know"
"Rainbow in the Dark"