The rhymes on “Cashmere” (Customs) — the debut from Swet Shop Boys, better known as Hicksville rapper Heems and “The Night Of” actor Rizwan Ahmed, aka Riz MC — are often as fiery as anything from early Public Enemy.
Heems is Indian-American and Hindu. Riz MC is British of Pakistani descent and Muslim. Together, they rap about what they see in the world, with wiretaps and police surveillance in their neighborhoods and racial profiling wherever they go.
“No new friends in case they undercover snakes,” raps Riz in “Phone Tap.” “Stares on the plane, guess it’s just another day.”
On “Swish Swish,” Heems raps about his successes — all the money he’s bringing in, the prestigious universities where he lectures — but how he is still often judged by the color of his skin. “In Long Island, we wildin’, we stylin’,” he says. “They still racial profilin’.”
Despite its subject matter, “Cashmere” never gets too heavy, thanks to uplifting South Asian-inspired beats from producer Redinho and the Swet Shop Boys’ sense of humor that’s baked into even the darkest songs.
One minute they are worrying about the effect of hate on their nephews, the next they are talking about disposable contact lenses. It sounds just like life.