Features | Awards

The Das Racist Award for Concise Self-Summation

By Chris Molnar | 17 December 2011

Kanye West’s Cameo in Beyonce’s “Party”

“I’m at the Pizza Hut / I’m at the Taco Bell / I’m at the combination Pizza Hut and Taco Bell.” Some may argue that Das Racist have said more concise and self-summing things about themselves, and they’re probably right—“They called us joke rap / We kinda weed rap / We just like rap,” for one. But there’s something about that first leap into infamy that defines their best qualities, how they can find wring hilarity and absurdity from anything simply by training their slackjawed gaze towards it.

In the same way, Kanye West’s line “You a bad girl and your friends bad, too / You got the swag sauce, you drippin’ Swagu” seems innocuous, tossed off, a random producer’s self-identification on a song that doesn’t even given him featuring credit. Especially during a day and age when everything Kanye says tends to be about him, the line seems like a relic from younger, happier years, back when he was self-conscious about being self-conscious in a context larger than his private jet and/or other other Benz. But that would be missing both the necessity and the pleasure of his brief appearance.

For one, it’s the most memorable part of the song by far, appearing both at the beginning and the end, ensuring that DJs play the entire song. The burbling ’80s synth and Andre 3000 verse are engagingly nostalgic, and Beyonce, as usual, sledgehammers the mixed messages into soulful empowerment. But in two lines, Kanye coins an unforgettable neologism, a song-making laugh line that sets the mood more than anything. A party can’t merely be retro, or soulful. A party has to be fun. And despite the insular crabbiness of 808’s & Heartbreak (2008) or My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy (2010), Kanye retains a unique ability to turn anything —his weaknesses, a slight, minor Beyonce single—into something transcendant, knowing, and funny.

He manages to harmonize that likable essence, the reason he is Kanye West instead of just some producer, with his impulse to “get dark” on this year’s Watch the Throne. Perhaps Das Racist will take note and sync up their lovable, plaintive weirdness with their urge to make content-free, disjointed piles of shit like Relax.