Serengeti had one of our top ten hip-hop albums of 2005; is Noticeably Negro in contention for 2007?
So far this decade, Chicago emcee Serengeti (Dave Cohn) has released some half-dozen albums on nearly as many labels. Of the bunch, Noticeably Negro is both the most unified and the most cryptic. While his 2005 breakthrough, Gasoline Rainbows which the Houston Press called one of the top ten hip-hop albums of that year celebrated nostalgia, Negro focuses squarely on racial politics. What's surprising is that it's taken Serengeti this long to tackle the theme, considering it's a hip-hop staple even for rappers who aren't both black and Jewish. “I'm like half Korean and half camel, and there's some zebra. A small part is reptile, and the rest is Native American,” he goofily ad-libs on the title track. Serengeti leaves the explicit politicking to guest stars like MF Grimm and Juice (“Bush is a drug dealer, Cheney is a criminal”) while he adds free-association rhymes (“If the minimum wage was 19 an hourÉan appendectomy wouldn't cost 20 grand. That's why everyone's trying to be in a boy band”). Serengeti sometimes compares his style to emo, but a more accurate comparison is avant-garde poetry. “Why don't we go fly away into a perfect world?” he asks on Noticeably Negro. With this album, we can.