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Das Racist in Our Midst



    "I'd really like to do some whip-my-hair-back-and-forth s--- with Will Smith’s daughter," said Victor Vazquez, one of the MCs for Brooklyn-based rappers Das Racist, who will be at Porter's Pub at UCSD on Monday night. "Actually, we'd like to work with any celebrity's kid. You know, Kelly Osbourne -- whoever."

    This is the point where I lost Vazquez for good in the interview. Up until then, we had talked (at least moderately) seriously about the group's beginnings at Wesleyan University, its decision to self-release its critically acclaimed mix tapes Shut Up, Dude and Sit Down, Man as free downloads, and the juxtaposition of tackling serious issues and just being funny. Once the two other members of the group -- MC Himanshu Suri and hype man Ashok Kondabolu -- got involved, though, any attempts at getting a straight answer were gone for good.

    It started when Vazquez, in an honest attempt to answer a question about the polarity of the group's music, started his response with, "The world is a serious place. And I think if you look at it seriously ..." This drew fits of raucous laughter in the background from Suri and Kondabolu, with them repeating the response and putting extra emphasis on the two uses of serious. A laughing Vazquez then excused himself for a moment from the phone, gave his bandmates a hilarious, obscenity-laced scolding and returned to the phone saying, "They're harassing me, man, and in front of a complete stranger -- and they didn’t let me finish. Oh, f--- it, dude."

    At this point, I came to the realization that I should have expected, a few high jinks from a band whose debut single was "Combination Pizza Hut and Taco Bell."

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    But before we derailed, Vazquez did talk about why so much is made of their beginnings.

    "Plenty of rappers went to college," Vazquez said. "Flavor Flav and Paul Wall took communications. That's the rapper major. But Himo studied economics and I studied English, and we went to a liberal arts college. I don't always get why people make a big deal about it, but I kind of get it. It is a little strange. But more than anything, people make a big deal about it because people make a big deal about it."

    He also explained Das Racist's decision to self-release their albums for free.

    "It's just been doing fine for us up until now," Vazquez said. "But it's not a philosophy or anything. It's just what we did and it worked. And we’ll just have to see how long it works. But I feel like the only people making money off of records are the folks in the Top 20. Everyone else has to figure out some kind of different plan.

    "The plan is act like we're putting it out ourselves, unless some s--- changes," Vazquez added, in reference to the upcoming release that Das Racist is working on now.

    I did try one last attempt to get Vazquez to talk about the future of the trio and got a very Das Racist answer.

    "We’ll have a TV show by the end of the year," he said. "And I'm gonna get a swimming pool."