“Let me get as drunk as fast as I can, so I can pass out and dream about being a different man”. There’s no denying that the air thickens when Dave Kohn, aka Serengeti, steps out of the guse of the Comical Chicagoan Kenny Dennis. The lyrical content gets incredibly darker and he becomes introspective beyond the wildest dreams of any conscious rapper.
Last year’s Family & Friends served as an interesting insight into, not Serengeti, but Dave Kohn and it was terrific. Easily one of the top releases of 2011 and you’ll be glad to hear that C.A.R. follows in a similar vein. But where Family & Friends felt incredibly accessible despite its heavy themes, C.A.R’s experimental production and relentless choice of topics make this the perfect sequel but fairly inaccessible for those not familiar.
Like Family & Friends, C.A.R. has a strong overbearing theme but no consistent narrative (which, considering Serengeti’s knack of switching in out of characters, is a very a good thing). Here the focus is relationships, as opposed to the focus on fatherhood and his family found on Family & Friends. And again, like his last album, he far from celebrates these relationships. Whether its a young or a married couple, the stories can paint them as reckless or lethargic going-through-the-motions.
The latter features on one of the more successful tracks, “Go Dancing”. Here ‘geti promises a list of activities him and his partner will do, now that things are different after they’ve become comfortable. But, he doesn’t celebrate them changing a corner. Not before long the track blurs into a routine of old and familiar arguments start to creep in, ending in Serengeti doing the same activities by himself.
We’ll learn Spanish and karate, it’s different now, I’ll show you how / Friends for dinner, we’ll feed the geese, Manhattan beach, Miami, honey.
But on the other side “Peekaboo” is an awkward and strange tale of 12-year-old peeping toms and young relationships. Again, this isn’t a track that will forgive young naivety. The gruff sounding vocals put the track in a creepier place and the children’s toy samples cut in make it all a bit unerring.
“Geti Life” is probably one of the most interesting tracks on the album. It’s almost like he’s having a therapy session or internal dialogue with Why?’s Yoni Wolf and commanding vocal samples. This is before he naturally over-analyses his life and breaks down at the end of track.
If you haven’t gotten the message by now, this is quite heavy material, lyrically. The production, solely by Jel & Odd Nosdam, is solid but nothing amazing. They tend to stick to slow and twitchy beats with repetitive droning samples that some how manage to succeed for their lack of depth. But for the most part the beats provide a great contextual backdrop and occasionally the cuts and samples are almost levitated to the same level as Serengeti, which again, contextually makes a whole lot of sense.
But the production isn’t really the issue here. Serengeti’s lyrics are just too emotionally grating at times and after awhile C.A.R. becomes a bit of a drain to listen to. It’s the perfect sequel to Family & Friends in that the situations that Serengeti envisions still suck and he’s really the only artist to continually go back to that well and succeed. However, C.A.R.’s relentless pace and lack of optimism or satire make it a little too strong for first timers.
Serengeti’s C.A.R. was released on the 31st of July