Serengeti

Kenny Dennis LP

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Some MCs take years to develop a unique rhyme style; some, like Marshall Mathers or MF Doom, even go so far as to create an alter ego so they can get raw on the mike without remorse. Anticon rap artist Serengeti has been pulling a Nathanial Hornblower, performing as the fictional Kenny Dennis since 2006's Dennehy, when he "grew a mustache the size of Mike Ditka's head." The character (who resembles one of the Chicagoans from Saturday Night Live's "Da Super Fans" skits) has increasingly been making cameos on Serengeti records ever since. Tying the absurd stream of consciousness raps of Das Racist and the drowsy '90s-style stoner flow of Funkdoobiest, 2013's Kenny Dennis LP continues from the six-track 2012 Kenny Dennis EP. Here, the hot-tempered, big-hearted MC tries to motivate his fans with insightful life lessons: "Bang 'Em" offers some straightforward advice about the dating scene before turning it into pep talk about banging out the things in life you don't want to do (like going to work or being a vegan), "Crush 'Em" is about the importance of teamwork and being a winner (in street hoops, arcade games, or otherwise), and "Directions" is about giving direction to misguided youth, which turns into a literal account ("You go right, you go right, you go left, you go right, you go right, you go up, you go down, you go left…") that goes on for nearly two full minutes. This all probably sounds like dumb fun on a novelty record, but the concept is deep. Odd Nosdam's production is a top-shelf blend of golden age and futuristic beats, and the comedy comes not from cheap bratwurst jokes, but from how the abstract one-liners start to unfold Dennis' very detailed background story, which involves time served as a '90s rapper in Tha Grimm Teachaz, a public feud with Shaquille O'Neil of the Fu-Schnickens, and an opportunity to be a permanent fixture on NBC's American Gladiators. Those looking for the cleverness of MC Paul Barman and the conceptual weight of Deltron 3030 or Prince Paul's A Prince Among Thieves really ought to give this a listen. Serengeti's hoax is brilliantly constructed, plugged with nostalgia that feels entirely real, and made even more amazing after you investigate Tha Grimm Teachaz' "excellent 1993 underground classic" There's a Situation on the Homefront.

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