Former Das Racist rapper Himanshu Suri aka Heems, is performing in Perth for the first time this Friday, January 31 at Dave’s Cans at Many 6160. He speaks with JOSHUA HAYES about the show, his upcoming solo album and projects forthcoming on his Greedhead label.
“I will wear Indian clothes, I will rap really good, I will make jokes between songs,” Suri says when asked what local punters can expect from his show.
“I will play the guitar on my microphone. I will not make eye contact with the crowd until I’m comfortable, and even then I will look at them in an odd way like, ‘what are you even doing here, I suck’. But I won’t suck at the rapping. I’m really good at that I realised recently.”
He’s joking of course. This is the man who bellowed ‘I’m fucking great at rapping’ on Das Racist’s single Michael Jackson – although even that line is arguably a joke when it comes from someone who takes pleasure in skewering hip hop’s norms.
The fact is; he’s a very good rapper. Das Racist – the now defunct trio consisting of Suri, fellow rapper Kool A.D. and hype man Dapwell – were initially written off as jokesters when their song Combination Pizza Hut And Taco Bell went viral. Though they proved to be anything but, delivering a whirlwind of sardonic humour, obscure hip hop references, social commentary, tangled wordplay and electronica-tinged beats on two acclaimed mixtapes in 2010, Shut Up, Dude and Sit Down, Man, as well as their 2011 debut album Relax.
The group spent most of 2012 on the road (including Big Day Out – although they didn’t come to Perth) with Suri and Kool A.D. beginning to release solo mixtapes, before announcing at the end of the year that they’d broken up. Suri’s two solo mixtapes, Nehru Jackets and Wild Water Kingdom, found him delivering more focused, politically-edged raps over beats built around samples of Bollywood and other Indian music.
2013 saw him spending time in India working on his solo debut.
“My anxieties wash off of me in India, Goa specifically. I recorded the album in three days in Mumbai in December. It’s done. It’s awesome. I don’t know what people will think though, it’s different from my older stuff but that’s art, you know?” he says. “I’d say in (my solo mixtapes) I kind of hide behind my Indian identity and in Das Racist’s material, I hid behind humour, but on my new work I’m not hiding anymore. It’s me. It’s your boy, Heemy.”
Suri says the album will be released on his Greedhead label once the paperwork has been sorted. He’s also working on a release from his new project Swet Shop Boys, which is a collaboration with British actor Riz Ahmed (star of acclaimed films Four Lions and The Reluctant Fundamentalist) who also raps under the name Riz MC, and a mixtape with comedian and Parks And Recreation writer Joe Mande.
Suri says these projects will come out on Greedhead along with frequent Das Racist collaborator Lakutis’ new project, and releases from oddball New York MC, Prada Mane, and Issue – a Bay Area rapper and son of the legendary E-40.