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Victor Vazquez Musician
Kool A.D. performing with Das Racist at Governors Ball in New York City in 2011
Victor Vazquez (born November 16, 1983), also known by his stage name Kool A.D., is an American musician, rapper, author, and artist. He is from the San Francisco Bay Area of California. Vazquez is best known for being a member of the New York-based rap group Das Racist, though he has also been a member of the bands Boy Crisis and Party Animal. Vazquez has also released his own solo material, including numerous mixtapes. Mother Jones magazine described his work as "a thoughtful effort to deconstruct and rearrange cultural objects in ways that challenge our deepest assumptions about society and cultural products".
While a student at Wesleyan University in 2005, Vazquez formed the group Boy Crisis, originally playing drums, and then later moving to vocals. Although Boy Crisis signed a record deal with B-Unique Records in 2008, B-Unique never released the album.
During his second year in college, Vazquez served as Himanshu Suri's resident advisor. Following graduation, Vazquez returned to Wesleyan several times to practice with a Boy Crisis bandmate, who still attended the university. It was during this time that he became friends with Suri, and following Suri's graduation, the two moved to New York City, where they shared an apartment.
With Ashok "Dapwell" Kondabolu serving as their hype man, Vazquez and Suri formed the rap group Das Racist. Das Racist first found success on the internet with their 2008 song "Combination Pizza Hut and Taco Bell", and then quickly established themselves within the underground rap scene with their 2010 mixtapes Shut Up, Dude and Sit Down, Man, both of which earned them critical acclaim, the latter of which received Pitchfork's designation of "Best New Music" as well as spawning tours across North America, Europe, and Asia. In 2011, the duo released their first studio album, Relax. After signing a deal with Sony/Megaforce Records in mid-2012 Vazquez then left Das Racist before they could release their first album with Sony.
Party Animal is a hardcore band in which Vazquez plays the drums. It consists of Vazquez, Loren Moter, and Malosi, all former members of New Earth Creeps - a band Vazquez was a founding member of in high school. In 2011, they played the Northside Festival in Brooklyn, New York, and in early 2012, Das Racist member Dapwell mentioned that Vazquez was working on material with his "other band" Party Animal. Their eponymous debut album was released online on February 28, 2013, and the band toured the U.S. in March and April of the same year.
In July 2015, Party Animal released their second album Avant Garbage. They released a video for the song "Saving All My Money (Just to Buy a Gun)" in September 2016.
Before and during his stint as one-third of Das Racist, KOOL A.D. was developing and releasing solo material. Previous to The Palm Wine Drinkard, he released EPs, titled "The Electric Kool A.D. Acid Test", "That Other Other Shit", "Zoot Fantastic", "Dum Shiny", "Idiot""Dummo", and "Hyphy Ballads" (Hyphy Ballads produced by Greedhead labelmate Big Baby Gandhi.)
On January 3, 2012, Vazquez released his debut solo mixtape The Palm Wine Drinkard. The Palm Wine Drinkard, which featured several R&B tracks and other experimental music styles, received mixed reviews from critics. In April 2012, Vazquez released his second solo mixtape, 51, which received positive reviews from critics. In 2012, Vazquez stated that he had three new albums that he was working on. Two of them - titled 19 and 63 (like 51, the albums are named after Bay Area bus lines) - he released as a double-album on February 7, 2013. The albums include collaborations with Pictureplane, Young L, SKYWLKR, Keyboard Kid, Trackademicks, Fat Tony, Mike Finito, Lakutis and Spank Rock as well as a beat Ad-Rock of the Beastie Boys originally made for Das Racist.Vice described 19 and 63 as "taking the discursive and funny work he was doing with Das Racist and stripping it of any sense of structure or formula, but also work[ing] to free him from the label of 'Dude in Das Racist.'"Pitchfork also praised the mixtapes, calling them "organically avant-garde". Vazquez and Kassa Overall released a collaborative mixtape as Kool & Kass entitled Peaceful Solutions on April 30, 2013. In December 2013, Vazquez released the mixtape Not O.K., composed of tracks that did not make it on his then-forthcoming album, entitled Word O.K. (released in 2014), and featuring guest appearances from Sir DZL and Ladybug "Santos Vieira" Mecca of Digable Planets. In November 2015, Kool A.D. released a 100-song mixtape titled O.K. as a soundtrack to his forthcoming novel O.K., A Novel. 2016 saw a flurry of new releases from Kool A.D. with seven mixtapes coming in the first nine months of year, including two 100-track mixtapes (Zig Zag Zig and Peyote Karaoke).
His lyrical style borders on joke rap; his ad-lib overdubs are typically done in jest and the content of his rhymes often are wisecracks.
Vazquez's representation of "a futuristic utopia where racism doesn't exist" that won him the cartoon-off with Farley Katz
Vazquez is also a visual artist. While working at 826 Valencia in 2006, he drew the cover to Dave Eggers's Some Things You Should Know About Captain Rick. He has also published his own comic, The Continuing Adventures of Boy With a Fish for a Head.
In the summer of 2009, Vazquez responded to The New Yorker cartoonist Farley Katz's poking fun at Das Racist for "Combination Pizza Hut and Taco Bell" by challenging Katz to a "cartoon-off". Katz accepted, and the competition consisted of the two each drawing three cartoons: a day in the life of a rapper, a day in the life of a cartoonist, and a futuristic utopia where racism does not exist. Vazquez submitted the same drawing of domestic slackerdom for the first two, and a person in a Ku Klux Klan hood asking, "What, too soon?" for the third. Rob Harvilla of the Village Voice declared Vazquez the winner, saying he "destroyed" Katz, and Vazquez was widely considered to have won the cartoon-off.
Vazquez also draws pictures and sells them on Instagram and Twitter. His primary medium is Sharpie on paper.
Vazquez has exhibited work in galleries in New York City and Oakland, California.
A zine of his writing titled Joke Book was published by Spencer Madsen of Sorry House in February 2013. Praised as "a satirical criticism of our modern society that was both refreshing and thoughtful, as well as uproariously hysterical," the zine sold out in its first run, necessitating a second run three months later.
From July 2015 through February 2016, Kool A.D. wrote a bi-weekly column for Vice about parenting, called "Yeah Baby".
In November 2016, Kool A.D. released a novel, titled O.K., A Novel. Kool A.D. had originally written the novel as a 442-page experimental narrative, with multiple narrators and other unconventional elements such as lists, screenplay-style scripts, dictionary entries, tweets, and fake ad copy, but he scrapped that version and re-wrote the novel.