The progression between Das Racist's superb mixtapes of last year (Shut Up, Dude and Sit Down, Man) and this wondrously inventive, scary debut album is simply the addition of songs. Whereas earlier releases existed on a kind of murky continuum, Relax offers complete pop compositions that are still leftfield and mysterious as often as searing. "Middle of the Cake" puts a minor-key sense of doom behind its staggering party, and the construction of the single "Michael Jackson" is so bizarre and ingratiating that it feels vaguely iconic, gutturally shouting raw, vague verbal imagery over a sparse Middle Eastern sample.
It's bravery, though, not novelty that drives these rants and raves. Why else would Heems have a line about going "from the ESL to YSL," and why else would the title track demand "What good is this Cashmere / If they're still dying in Kashmir / Kushmir / There was homes, now there's just dust there?" Relax's low-key confrontation uses humor not to deaden their message but to elegantly come to terms with confusion and rage. "It's a brand new dance, give us all your money" they sing in deadpan before commanding "everybody, love everybody" with an audible grasp of the directive's emptiness. Mere jokes are seldom this devastating.
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