With the economy in ruins and the gap between rich and poor growing, some longtime listeners of hip hop have been wondering if and when artists would put aside spitting the praises of Cristal and bling to return to the genre’s early role as the voice of the streets. But even since Wall Street’s drive-by on Main Street (not to mention the Martin Luther King and Malcolm X Boulevards of countless American urban centers) the silence is all but deafening.
Given the prominent political role that some hip hop artists seized upon while promoting the candidacy of Barack Obama, one might expect to hear some of those same voices still raised during this current political moment. But, alas, no.
This brings me to my review of Das Racist’s latest mixtape, “Sit Down, Man.”….Each track is provided with a catchy beat, displaying the production team’s knowledge of a variety of music. The flow of these young MCs cannot be slept on as displayed in the track “Amazing.”
That said, spitting the types of lyrics, as they do, on the track “People are Strange,” which employs a verbal combination of popular sayings, themes for popular television shows and subjects from a high school humanities class, does not make a complete album. Hip-hop lyrics should at least tell a story and unfortunately these talented Emcees fail to do so on any of the tracks in this mixtape. They string together random, unrelated words without any logical point except to arouse the senses of hipsters.
This should not be construed as just an attack on hipsters. My frustration with Das Racist is that they are obviously well educated people, so the responsibility to discuss issues of the world lies heavily on them. To have this medium available to you but not use it to discuss really anything is a wasted opportunity.
In an ironic way hip hop has returned to its roots, where the music maker, the producer/DJ, is once again the important person and the MC is just a side show filling in information for the party. Today, the MC is not just considered an important element by listeners, but sadly they think of themselves as important even though they aren’t doing any of the things which made the old school MC great. They are not interesting. They do not tell stories. They stay away from actually taking a stance or voicing an opinion when they rap. Das Racist is just like everyone else, unfortunately. They have great beats but do not add anything to those beats.
I don’t completely dislike this album. I have found myself listening to it many times. But I do so only because the beats are pretty incredible. The use of different music genres mixed in with beat making machines and random sound effects, such as on “Return To Innocence,” brings me comfort that the producers appreciate the essence of hip-hop music by reveling in the many genres hip-hop is allowed to sample from.
Appreciating the beat and the MC are completely two different positions. Regrettably, many MCees today rely completely on catchy beats, knowing full well listeners we’ll buy their CDs or go to their concerts because we’ve been tricked to think that we actually like the artist, when in reality we just like the production.