Kool A.D. Pushes His Luck and His Boundaries at Elbo Room, 1/9/12
Wednesday, Jan. 9, 2013
Better than: Never seeing anyone from Das Racist ever again.
It's 12:30 a.m., and Kool A.D. is perched stage right, casually hanging out, while his DJ spins some records. "Can we get one more bucket of free beer for the green room?" he calls to the bar at the back of the room. "One more bucket of free beer for the green room?" No response. "One more bucket of free beer for the stage?" he tries. No response. "Fuck it. One more bucket of beer and you can take the money out of my paycheck," he offers. Still no response. He tries a few more times. The bartender is having none of it. No more free beer for Kool A.D.
Finally, true desperation sets in, and he turns to the gathered audience who have still yet to even hear him perform anything: "Okay, which of y'all wants to buy me a beer?" A whiskey and Coke is offered in his direction from someone up front. Nope, that's not gonna work -- he wants a beer. Finally, someone throws five dollars his way and he sends someone to the bar to get him "a four dollar beer." "I'm not gonna rap for another five minutes probably," he adds smirking, just so we all know.
Now, we know what this sounds like. It sounds like Kool A.D. is being a self-entitled asshole. But watching it play out is more like watching a dude try his luck; more like dealing with that guy at the bar who asks to buy one cigarette from you, then distracts you with entertaining stories while he smokes the whole pack.
As you may recall, we were devastated when the three members of Das Racist recently announced they were going their separate ways, so we'll readily admit that we already have a sizable soft spot for Kool A.D. (real name: Victor Vasquez) -- even if it does look like he's responsible for D.R.'s demise. (He admitted on Twitter that it was him that quit the band first.)
A.D.'s was always the biggest personality in Das Racist -- cocky but charming, with an unabashed air of somehow-lovable sleaze, intermingled with a dash of indifference. It's worth noting that the rag-tag dancing girls from the "Rainbow in the Dark" video have followed A.D. into solo life (see the clip for "Manny Pacquiao") and he seems incapable of making a video that doesn't involve at least one dancing girl. He's always had the constant demeanor of a guy pushing his luck, so why wouldn't he be asking for more free beers tonight?
His style is harder and faster live than on record, and it's more precise and polished than most of what we saw him do at Das Racist shows. He encourages crowd participation at every given opportunity, and the audience obliges -- especially during "Manny Pacquiao" and "No." He is keen to emphasize his Bay Area roots, too, pointing out early on in the set that he was born in San Francisco Children's Hospital, raised in Hunter's Point, and that his folks still live in West Oakland. During "No," he raps: "I mess around in New York, but still Bay as fuck."
Not that anyone here seems to care about such technicalities -- the majority of the room is pretty wasted by the time Kool A.D and his bassist even hit the stage, having hit full-on party stride during Trackedemicks' super-feel-good set earlier in the evening. The heavy stench of weed is thick in the air all night, and by the time it's all over, everyone in the room's looking a little worse for wear.
The vibe in Elbo Room tonight may be one of a house party gone to the next level, but Kool A.D. is clearly far more focused now than he ever was in his previous band. We'll miss Das Racist a lot, but we sure are glad that Kool A.D. is hanging around.