A hustler is a female version of a hustler.
Last night at a sold-out Yacht Club in Iowa City, Das Racist hype man Ashok Kondabolu, aka Dap, surfed the crowd with his face just inches beneath a sweaty ceiling you could reach with your hand. When the audience coordinated an "encore!" chant, San Francisco native Victor Vazquez, aka Kool A.D., hopped back up on stage. Did Queens-born Himanshu Suri, aka Heems, join him to do "Combination Pizza Hut and Taco Bell," the hilariously on-point Yum Brands farce that first had mp3-downloaders chuckling their pescado breath, shaking their pizza butts ("No, that's where I'm at-- where you at?")? Heck no. Somebody put on M.I.A.'s New Year's Eve mixtape, Vicki Leekx, and one last dance party broke out, with Vazquez in the middle. There was a huge cheer. I went to a place called Pizza on Dubuque and bought more slices than I could eat.

What really turned Das Racist, unexpectedly, into honest-to-Allah rappers you'd like to follow-- good ones!-- was a pair of mixtapes last year: Shut Up, Dude and Sit Down, Man. The second of those two was overseen by Diplo and his Mad Decent label; Jay-Z recorded one of the hooks ("All Tan Everything"). Suri and Vazquez are not only masters at highly referential wordplay, they're also sharply perceptive about the absurdity of racial stereotypes. This is the news. Along with the new EP from Childish Gambino, better known as "Community" actor Donald Glover (he'll be in Ames this month for free during VEISHEA), and new mixtapes from indie-inclined r&b dudes Frank Ocean and the Weeknd-- all sort of following dudes like Drake and The-Dream-- Das Racist are wielding cultural references in a world that is not just black-and-white. Most importantly, they do this in really entertaining ways. Their world? Probably pretty green. (Their Sprite? Easter pink. [David Banner-referencing-Lil Wayne-referencing "Shorty Said (Gordon Voidwell Remix)", I see you.])

My buddy Shane, a huge Das Racist fan who moved from Des Moines to Australia but will be back, said he was jealous that me, Chet Boom, and B.P. were gonna see them. He'll get to catch the group at Pitchfork this summer, but in the meantime he requested Shut Up, Dude's "Rainbow in the Dark", which has some of the group's most tongue-twistingly sweet rhymes. I dunno if our tweets helped, but we got it, and "Movin' Out"-sampling "You Oughta Know" (no Alanis Morissette cover), too, among others. The opening set from the Hood Internet was just a total college dance party, with everything from Estelle's "American Boy" to "Ain't Nothin' But a G Thang" to Franz Ferdinand, and I wish we'd come with girls, or were college kids-- just a great vibe. I wasn't expecting BBU, whose "Chi Don't Dance" is this totally exhilarating example of Chicago's juke sub-genre, so I was getting a little testy (sorry if the tweets got lame) waiting through a large portion of the crowd's excited response every time the group mentioned Chicago-- which was often!-- but they were pretty fun, too, and after an extended tease we finally got "Chi Don't Dance." It still ruled. All they do is juke, y'see...

So me, Chet Boom, and Brett managed to squeeze up front by the time we finally saw Das Racist. We were painfully close to the speaker at first-- dude next to me complained about the air horn sound they kept using, said he'd heard enough of it during a study-abroad year in Costa Rica... and it was pretty deafening... but y'know, don't the DJs do that all the time on rap mixtapes?-- but all good because when there was a push from behind us I shifted toward center stage. Boom had staked out a spot. I guess the venue usually books a lot of jam bands? It's small, and when you're standing far back you can't necessarily see much. Anyway, I'd heard Das Racist said something at SXSW like "All the colored people, move up front-- all the white people, go home!", so I was wondering what they would be like playing in corn country. But there weren't any confrontational incidents, which was probably for the best: just a bunch of slyly rambunctious hip-hop that celebrates and spoofs current digital-cloud culture. Thank U, GChat.

Left and right to the sound of soul.
I've been to a bunch of other shows recently, too. The Poison Control Center at Drake, again playing songs from their new album-- including, at Ladd's request, "Torpedoes on Tuesday"... although at first when they asked him from stage for a request he thought they were just saying they were gonna play his usual favorite, "Don't Go", so he didn't say anything and it was funny, kind of, right Ladd?-- and sounding way in synch after all their time on the road lately. They ended with what I think was a cover of Christopher the Conquered's "That's When I'll Stop Loving You", except here they've changed that tender ballad into something dark and squalling and deadpan, a surprising, totally welcome move from these guys. I unfortunately missed Mumford's, Coyote Slingshot, Utopia Park, and Brass Bed, who also played that night-- it was an early show-- but I like all those bands. Hope to catch 'em again soon.

Terminal velocities.
I also saw Vancouver garage-rockers Dead Ghosts, who played a really short set at Vaudeville Mews and said afterward they sucked (I think they had a problem with the drum kit, or something?), but who I enjoyed.
Will you tell me your plan?
And Bay Area electronic-pop act Birds & Batteries-- they brought a good early-week crowd and it seemed like a solid night, though I eventually had to duck out and (stupid me) missed the encore.

You become an idea when you represent something.
Sons and step-sons, get amped: Des Moines' annual GDP festival, with something like 13 rising local acts, is here Saturday. And Queens of the Stone Age play Val Air Ballroom on Monday. My wife has a T-shirt she got at a teaching conference somewhere once. All it says on the front is "EPIC."

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