Over the past year former Das Racist member Heems took a break from releasing solo material to put out music from artists like Le1f and Antwon on his label Greedhead Music. But 2014 looks like it will be a banner year for the rapper/label owner, who recently dropped the banger “Benny Lava” from his new duo Swet Shop Boys. Then in the past week he revealed a completely ridiculous rap jingle he recorded for a Japanese Vitamin Water commercial, and shared his new track for Anthony Bourdain’s CNN travel show, Parts Unknown.
Dubbed the “New York remix” of an ad featured on Japanese TV, Heems’ jingle seems to poke fun both at Japan’s fetishizing of American and New York culture as well as the US’ perception of Japanese pop culture. There are references to Strollercize, Brooklyn’s Nitehawk Cinema, and my personal favorite – sushi nails.
Like much of his musical work (as well as his tweets) this is sure to spark debates of whether the rapper is employing satire or simply being goofy for the sake of being goofy. In other words he’s probably just being himself, which is to say he’s doing both.
On the other hand, Heems’ track for Anthony Bourdain is chock-full of references to his Punjabi ethnicity – fitting, as it was for an episode of Parts Unknown that takes place in Punjab.
This isn’t the first collaboration between the two. Back in 2010 Das Racist released a track called “Ek Shaneesh” off their first mixtape, Shut Up Dude, where Heems raps “I’m from Queens, man/Ain’t shit to do but cook/Watching Tony Bourdain/Plus I copped his book/plus I copped his look/that means t-shirt and jeans/catch me in my borough chasin breezers with creame.” Bourdain got word of the shout-out and invited Das Racist to make an appearance on his holiday special that year.
The new Heems track is littered with mentions of Punjabi food and drinks like makki di roti, lassi, and pav bhaji. He also has plenty of wordplay with lines like “Oh you up in Punjab? Paid for poetic devices, yeah I got a pun job”
The episode aired this past Sunday night on CNN for Parts Unknown’s third season. Click here to listen to the song.