April 16th 2012

Review: Serengeti’s Kenny Dennis EP

Rap has always had perverted obsession with sports. Both are undeniably American, rap started and is still dominated by American artists and what’s more American than competition or getting drunk at a competition. As an outsider (from the UK) looking in, it has always been little strange and almost alienating. However, over the course of this six-track EP, Serengeti, channels American sports in a kind of satirical way that makes it accessible despite the niché character he portrays.

This isn’t the same Serengeti you’ve heard on the recent collaboration with Sufjan & Son Jux, nor is it the same Sergenti we enjoyed on last year’s Family & Friends. This is his alter ego, Chicago working man, Kenny Dennis at his very best.

By now you’ve probably heard the Shaq-diss banger, “Shazam”. Here he calls out Shaq over a genuine comment Shaq-Fu made about Kenny’s moustache when they were labelmates at a Jive showcase back in 1993. It’s as ridiculous as it sounds, and coupled with hard hitting production by Jel & Odd Nosdam.

Bulls, bulls, bulls, bulls, bulls, sports, sports, sports, sports, sports

Elsewhere, he left me watching a hour long documentary on Steve Bartman when he admits that he blocked the catch on that infamous night on “Don’t Blame Steve”. He challenges us to beat his fierce battle raps on “Top That”. There are also tracks where Kenny introduces himself and tells of past exploits in “Rib Tips” & “Kenny Dennis”. But the other hero off the EP is waiting at the end.

“Flat Pop” is effectively this album’s “Dennehy” released in a post-Das Racist world but in double time. It’s absurdly brilliant even if the faster pace means you can’t entirely keep up, when the slight drop after the line “bulls, bulls, bulls, bulls, bulls, sports, sports, sports, sports, sports” you’re already completely on board. What I’m trying to get at here is that every track on this EP has a reason to be here. Previous Kenny Dennis releases tended to flounder because of their faux-joking nature, here every track has a purpose.

American’s tend not to get self-parody right, which is what makes this EP great. It’s concise, it doesn’t waste your time and, in places, it’s pretty spot on. All it took was combining a bunch of sports references with a strange character an alternative rapper created.

Serengeti’s Kenny Dennis EP is out on Anticon on the 19th of April 2012