Release Date: Jul 19, 2011
Record label: Anticon
Genre(s): Rap, Pop/Rock
Five years ago, this Chicago rapper made Dennehy, a truly great concept album about a friendship between a working-class white dude and a troubled teen MC. His 10th album is concept-free, but no less distinct. Over atmospheric beats that clatter and drone, Serengeti drops left-field references (Counting Crows, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle) and sad stories: a father and son bond over smack; a hapless liar maintains two marriages; and, in "The Whip," a broken-down UFC fighter obsesses over what might have been.
Rap Fan—may I call you “Rap Fan”? Rap Fan, I hear you’ve become disillusioned with your prospects for finding a compatible hip-hop artist. What’s the problem? Have you been looking for an artist who shares your taste in beats? Someone who makes pop culture references you recognize? An interesting artist who can flow nicely over a smooth beat, maybe even hook up a good story or two? The type of artist you can relate to. Someone who will entertain you, without preaching.
When throwing references left and right is part of an artist’s shtick, one would think that a musician would eventually hit a creative block. More so in the case of Serengeti, an independent Chicago MC with an extensive, and no less respectable, discography that would bring a slack procrastinator to tears. Over the course of six years, David Cohn functioned as an intermediary between media ridden and factual observation.
As L.A.-based Anticon has expanded its horizons, it has slowly moved away from the navel-gazing, leftfield hip-hop that made its name. Chicago rapper David Cohn, who performs as Serengeti, represents something of a return for the label. Following a 2009 collaborative record with producer and fellow Illinois native Polyphonic, Serengeti's first solo album for Anticon is an unflinching homage to an indie-rap template that has otherwise largely gone the way of the dodo.
A friend from Chicago once played me Serengeti‘s “Dennehy,” from the 2006 album of the same name. I thought it was a joke, like a Weird Al for hip hop. So I was surprised when I started listening to his debut solo album for Anticon Records, Family & Friends, and heard a country-twanged circular guitar riff and dissonant violin double stops on the opener, “Tracks”.
Check out why hip-hop artist David Cohn is destined for cult stardom. "Ever since I lost my job, I started a blog / It's going so great / It's about the ins and outs of the perfect date," a self-satisfied fool tells us in 'California', one of eleven cuts in which Cohn, using the moniker Serengeti, dramatizes life in the post-Obama age: living under reduced circumstances, hounded by thwarted ambition, and finding pleasure where we can. The album title speaks a literal truth—family and friends are all he's got, and damn it if, like life, he doesn't deserve better.