Noticeably Negro

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.


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