Since first making their mark with the underground hit Combination Pizza Hut and Taco Bell - a three-minute song that consists almost entirely of the refrain, “I’m at the Pizza Hut / I’m at the Taco Bell / I’m at the combination Pizza Hut and Taco Bell” - New York trio Das Racist have made a name for themselves with their unique brand of hip hop.
Made up of MCs Himanshu Suri (a.k.a. Heems), Victor Vazuqez (a.k.a. Kool A.D.) and hype man Ashok Kondabolu (a.k.a. Dapwell), the group takes its name from a game its members used to play. When something borderline racially insensitive would appear on television, one of them would yell, “That’s racist!”
The band released two mixtapes in 2010, Shut Up, Dude and Sit Down, Man, and released its first commercial album, Relax, in September 2011. The disc earned praise from the likes of Rolling Stone and Spin.
In anticipation of their performance at the Pyramid Cabaret on Friday, Sept. 7 as part of the University of Winnipeg Students’ Association’s Roll Call IV show, Kool A.D. and Dapwell answered some questions via email.
The Uniter: Where are you guys answering these questions from?
Kool A.D.: New York. It’s a little past noon and I just woke up.
Dapwell: I’m in my apartment in North Brooklyn. I just folded a bunch of sweatshirts and thought about union suits. It is the early evening.
What was the best or most fun thing you did this summer?
Kool A.D.: I went to Istanbul on vacation with a beautiful woman. I also did a solo tour of the States with Houston rapper Fat Tony and a couple of my dudes I have known since I was 12.
Dapwell: I don’t remember anything that happened from February until about two weeks ago.
How would you describe the last year, since Relax came out? What are some of the highlights?
Kool A.D.: A lot of touring, occasional parties, a lot of smoking weed and watching Netflix streaming. I bought a limo. I recorded some solo stuff and started a punk rock side project called Party Animal and also a “post-rap” project called Cult Days with the beautiful woman I went to Istanbul with.
Dapwell: I moved into an apartment on the other side of the block I lived on years ago. I bought a new toilet seat and bath rug. Hundreds of other small things, also.
When you think of Canada, what comes to mind?
Kool A.D.: Free health care, Drake, John Candy…
Dapwell: Same. Also, ice—frozen water, not meth.
We don’t have any combination Pizza Hut and Taco Bell restaurants in Manitoba, but we have some combination Tim Hortons and Wendy’s restaurants. Any chance you could sing “Combination Tim Hortons and Wendy’s” when you perform at the Pyramid?
Kool A.D.: What’s a Tim Hortons?
You’ll be releasing the follow up to Relax in early 2013. What can you tell me about the album?
Kool A.D.: We signed a piece of paper saying we would get a relatively large amount of money upfront for making it.
You’ve sampled a diverse list of musicians, including Billy Joel, The Doors and Kraftwerk. What’s a sample you’re hoping to incorporate at some point in the future that people wouldn’t expect?
Kool A.D.: We’re just going to stick with Billy Joel, The Doors and Kraftwerk from now on. That’s kind of the Holy Trinity of Hip Hop.
When was the last time you yelled “That’s racist!” at a television? Which TV show was it, and what was happening?
Kool A.D.: Mad Men. I don’t even know what was going on—that show just looks racist in general.
What can Winnipeggers expect if they come see you at the Pyramid?
Kool A.D.: I think I’m going to get pretty drunk, but I’ll remember like 90 per cent of my words. Hima will probably play air guitar on his microphone.
Dapwell: They can expect to have a NORTH AMERICAN-SIZED GOOD TIME.
What advice do you have for people who are going back to school this week?
Kool A.D.: I don’t know, drop out?
Dapwell: Not going to waste my advice on strangers. Maybe DON’T BE A DICK.
Is there anything else you would like to add?
Kool A.D.: PEACE TO A TRIBE CALLED RED, DAMIAN FROM FUCKED UP AND MARIA VIVA.
Dapwell: GOODBYE CRUEL WORLD.
Das Racist perform at the Pyramid Cabaret on Friday, Sept. 7. DJ Co-Op and DJ Hunnicutt are also on the bill. Limited advance tickets are $20 and available at The Urban Bakery (398 Portage Ave.) and Music Trader (97 Osborne St.). The show is free for University of Winnipeg students (student ID required). Visit www.dasracist.net.
Published in Volume 67, Number 1 of The Uniter (September 5, 2012)