The wordy, idiosyncratic Chicago indie rapper Serengeti has done a whole lot of collaborative work over the years. He’s formed groups with people like WHY? and Sufjan Stevens. Just a couple of weeks ago, he teamed up with his old comrade Open Mike Eagle to release the Quarantine Recordings EP. And today, Serengeti and the Los Angeles producer Kenny Segal have joined forces on a new album that revisits Serengeti’s old character Kenny Dennis.
Kenny Segal has been part of some of the best indie-rap records of the last few years. Last year, Kenny Segal handled all of the production on billy woods’ stunning Hiding Places and on Back To The House, the first fill-length from Future Islands leader Samuel T. Herring’s rap alter-ego Hemlock Ernst. This year, Segal was part of the production braintrust behind R.A.P. Ferreira’s Purple Moonlight Pages. And now Segal has lent his clanking, staggered sound to Ajai, his new album with Serengeti.
For years, Serengeti has been making music from the perspective of Kenny Dennis, a middle-aged Chicago dude with a hell of an accent. He’s made a ton of albums from this character, including the local-pride anthem “Dennehy,” and he’s built up a whole mythology around the guy. A couple of years ago, Serengeti said that he was retiring the character. But now Kenny Dennis is back on Ajai. He’s living in Minnesota now. And the album also seems to go after the streetwear industry? I’m still on my first listen, and I’m not as schooled on the Kenny Dennis universe as some. But the whole project remains fascinating, and you can hear the album below.
The self-released Ajai is out now, and you can get it at Bandcamp.