Release Date: May 6, 2016
Record label: Joyful Noise
Genre(s): Rap, Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Indie Rock, Underground Rap
In its original conception, Testarossa comprised the soundtrack to a script formulated by Why? mainman Yoni Wolf and fellow alt rapper Serengeti. Essentially, it concerned a young couple whose lives go into freefall: Davy jets off with his band while Maddy’s left at home to raise their kids, and the album itself presents us with snapshots of their relationship’s dying embers. Serengeti in particular is darkly captivating when portraying the self-obsessed Davy; his fried, matter-of-fact mutterings alternate between outlandish tales of bedhopping across Europe and flashes of grim self-awareness.
We’re told that you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover. The same is true for albums. I dread to think how many times I’ve been digging in a shop and come across an interesting cover and immediately thought 'I have to have this'. If you were in your local record shop and came across Yoni & Geti’s Testarossa album, you’d definitely pick it up! Against a green background a white toy Ferrari Testarossa hangs in space while what looks like candy floss spews from its open door.
In the middle of the last decade, Serengeti starting carving out a niche as one of the weirdest and most confounding voices in underground rap, grappling with the tension between art and commerce and the tension between the industrial painter and his smocks. But the Windy City rapper born David Cohn is best known as someone else entirely—Kenny Dennis, the aging rapper he dreamed up, the one who hates Shaq but loves the '85 Chicago Bears, his wife Jueles, O’Douls, brats, beers, and the actor Brian Dennehy. Kenny isn’t a joke, and he isn’t a one-off; he’s been animated on a handful of full-length records and a masterful EP, and even the fictitious rap group Kenny was supposed to be a member of during the early '90s got its own, very real album.
The second go-around for Why?'s Yoni Wolf and Chicago-based rapper David Cohen (Serengeti), Testarossa is a densely packed, atmosphere-driven conceptual piece with one foot in the underground rap scene and the other in the increasingly elastic indie pop realm. Cryptic, eerie, and brimming over with richly detailed, though often elusive characters, the 14-track set chronicles the ups and downs --mostly downs -- of a pair of "star-crossed lovers" named Maddy and Davy, the latter a washed-up garage rocker and the former a reluctant cocktail waitress. Coming in at just under 40 minutes, Testarossa is fleeting, yet dense, a dirty Polaroid affixed to a smoke-damaged bulletin board in an abandoned corner office.