A&E

CD review: Das Racist

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Annie Zaleski

The Details

Das Racist
Relax
three and a half stars

Hip-hop trio Das Racist rocketed to fame on the strength of “Combination Pizza Hut and Taco Bell,” a single that teetered between obnoxious and clever. The group’s official full-length debut, Relax, errs on the side of the latter, thanks to vibrant production and slick pop-culture references. “Happy Rappy” name-drops everyone from Agatha Christie to My Bloody Valentine, while “Rainbows in the Dark” rhymes “Jeff Mangum” with “handguns.” (The best quip, though, is a sly nod to an obscure ’90s sitcom: “I’m a smart guy/Call me Tahj Mowry.”) Musically, Relax is wildly creative: The Diplo-produced “Happy Rappy” matches minimalist space-laser rhythms with a motormouth delivery, while standout “Girl” grafts tropical shoegaze to synth-pop chirps. And both “Booty in the Air” and “Punjabi Song” elevate pedestrian hip-hop signifiers—the former with cheeky humor and undeniable pop hooks and the latter by way of bhangra artist Bikram Singh’s appearance. Relax is playful, adventurous and way better than it has any right to be.

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