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 » Full Dark, No Stars - Stephen King's new novella questions mankind's ability to trust others.
[02.21.2011 by Bridget Doyle]

MUSIC

 » The Top 30 Albums of 2010 - Fashionably, fabulously late, our favorite music (and believe me, there was a LOT) of 2010, the year that some have called the best year for music ever. And only some of those fools work here. Plenty of usual suspects, lots of ties and a few surprises that I won't spoil, including our unexpected #1.
[12.24.2010 by The LAS Staff]

MUSIC

 » Live: Surfer Blood/The Drums at Lincoln Hall, Chicago, IL - Remember when Weezer used to put together records that you could sing along to and rock out to? That's what Surfer Blood's show was like!
[11.04.2010 by Cory Tendering]

Music Reviews

Screaming Females - Castle Talk
»Screaming Females
Castle Talk
Don Giovanni
Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross - The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
»Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross
The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
The Null Corporation
Deerhunter - Halcyon Digest
»Deerhunter
Halcyon Digest
4AD
No Age - Everything in Between
»No Age
Everything in Between
Sub Pop
Robyn - Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
»Robyn
Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
Konichiwa
The Walkmen - Lisbon
»The Walkmen
Lisbon
Fat Possum
Serengeti
Noticeably Negro
Audio 8

Rating: 8.1/10 ?


February 26, 2007
Whereas most MCs are obsessed with trying to convince the listener about how street they are, this Chicago MC is more concerned with rapping about his internalization of everything around him. Often throwing out the tag "emo," Serengeti is one of the few artists who has gone against the grain but hasn't had to sacrifice any level of skill or credibility to do so. Throw open the doors to Noticeably Negro and let Serengeti introduce you to the other side of underground hip-hop.

The latest in a prolific flurry of releases that includes two proper albums also released last year - Gasoline Rainbows and Dennehy - two free digital albums - Race Trading and Thunder Valley - and the forthcoming Don't Give Up, Noticeably Negro is Serengeti's way of showing that there is no handle on the spigot of his ideas. The rapper still has interesting, fresh things to say with his current album, although his lyrics and ideas can get a little strange at times. His entire persona stems from wordplay and cadence, both of which are highly unconventional and owe more to the style of Kool Keith than any other rap model. But, unlike Dr. Octagon, Serengeti has pretty good pitch control and can lay down a solid chorus when need be. Verses, however, are his strong point; meter and general sense are playfully observed just as much as they are thrown to the wind.

In "Birds Of Prey" the listener can see a display of both Serengeti's chaos and control. Backed by a hard-edged, dark soul drum sample that could have been culled from a Curtis Mayfield song, the Chicago MC begins the song by describing himself through a series of laughable and intriguing comparisons: "See like an owl/ Speed as a cheetah/ More strength than a scowl/ More strength than an octopus/ More speed than relationships that die out in the end/ I can bend and speak English." It's unclear as to whether the MC is channeling his inner Frank Zappa or a psychotic homeless man who frequents the YMCA, but the introspective analysis of his music serves to make the cut that much more interesting.

Later he raises his weird-topic stock and emo cred with "Puppies and Dogs," one of the album's best tracks as far as production (a dog bark is layered on top of the snare beat) from Midas Wells, lyrical creativity, and flat-out ballsy-ness (the chorus is "Is tomorrow nice?/ Yes indeed/ Is tomorrow good?/ I think so/ What's tomorrow like/ Puppies and dogs/ Is tomorrow nice?/ Yes indeed/ What's tomorrow like?/ Arrows and bee stings and little baby puppies, man.").

The ground upon which Serengeti squares his stance is ultimately what makes him a little different; he isn't afraid to be the antithesis hip-hop persona. In fact, through weird rhymes, odd rapping cadence, and brutal honesty, he is propagating his uniqueness every slighted glance of the way. Such is the gamble with true artistry; if he had no skill or his words didn't have some form of intrigue attached to them, it would be easy to write Serengeti off as a joke. But album after album, he skillfully proves that to not be the case. Noticeably Negro is another bullet point to his resume, another step up on a staircase leading him above the crowd.

Reviewed by Josh Zanger
Joshua Ian Zanger, a native of rural Chicago, rocks many a world with his writing, style, and generally sweet aroma.

See other reviews by Josh Zanger

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