“CAR.” What is that exactly? Chicago MC Serengeti makes a case that it’s all about a funk-fueled vibe under enough scratching to require a daily supply of new vinyl. With the help of Anticon producers Jel and Odd Nosdam, Serengeti (born in Chicago as David Cohn) has released the latest in his double-digit hip-hop discography.
Knowing nothing about his sleeping patterns, Just looking at his discography, one would get the sense that producer / rapper Jel – born Jeffrey Logan — lives and breathes on beats alone; that for him, rest is but an afterthought. Ever since the 1997 formation of hip-hop duo Themselves, in which he appeared alongside Adam “Doseone” Drucker, the ever-prolific artist has been putting out multiple releases every year both under his own name and with other projects such as Subtle and 13 & God. Oh, and he co-founded LA-based indie hip-hop label Anticon. No big deal.
Knowing nothing about his sleeping patterns, Just looking at his discography, one gets the sense that producer/rapper Jel (born Jeffrey Logan) lives and breathes on beats alone — that for him, rest is but an afterthought. Ever since the 1997 formation of hip-hop duo Themselves, in which he partners with Adam “Doseone” Drucker, the prolific artist has put out multiple releases every year either under his own name, with Themselves, with other projects such as Subtle and 13 & God, or as producer for other innovative rap artists such as Serengeti. Oh, and he co-founded LA-based indie hip-hop label Anticon. No big deal.
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In July, Chicago local David Cohn, better known as independent hip-hop artist Serengeti, dropped his first solo album on Anticon. The record, titled Family and Friends, showcases Cohn’s informal rapping style, which gives the impression that he’s just chillin’ with you in a bar, rattling off stories about somebody’s junkie dad or a failed UFC fighter.
A follow-up to Cohn’s 2009 release with Illinois native Polyphonic, Family and Friends also explores new sonic territory with producers Owen Ashworth of Advance Base and Yoni Wolf of Why?. The washed-out breakbeats on tracks like “PMDD” and “Ha-Ha” complement the more experimental electro-pop mixes of “ARP” and “The Whip.”
Cohn recently took some time to chat with us about his solo release, his current collaborative projects, and his future in film-making.
How do different producers’ styles and strengths complement the many sides of Serengeti?
Well, I have many sides, so working with great guys helps with that. I like to see what each producer does and work within what they do. I used to rap over beats that were already done. Advance Base, Yoni Wolf, the Breakfast Kings, Polyphonic, Jel, and Odd Nosdam are really the only cats I’ve actually sat down to work with. I definitely prefer that way.
What were the biggest differences or adjustments in working with Owen and Yoni for the new album?
With Yoni, I went out to his pad in Oakland, and we did our tunes in a week. With Owen, I’d take the El to his house and work once or twice a week on stuff. No real difference, really — both fellas were very easy to work with. I’d been trying to get it up with Owen for a while, so once we had our first session booked, I was a tad anxious, like, “Don’t blow it.” We did “Flutes,” “PMDD,” and “Kenny vs. Spring” in about two hours.
Shaun Koplow from Anticon hooked up the Yoni thing, so I was again feeling anxious when I flew out there, although we’d done some shows together on a tour. This was different, staying in a pad and such. We had a goal of a song a day, and we did it. Both fellas were great to hang out with, and I’d liked them for a long time, so it felt like a step in the right direction. Thanks, Owen, Yoni, and Shaun.
Co-founders of the indie-cred-filled Anticon record label, Adam “Doseone” Drucker and Jeff “Jel” Logan have reunited their risk-taking hip hop duo, Themselves, and returned with an idiosyncratic take on rap archetypes.
After a six-year hiatus, Anticon hip-hop duo Themselves (Doseone and Jel) is back on tour and ready for a new album in August. Ascending jazz organist Wil Blades also hits town, performing with his organ trio and luminous guitarist Jeff Parker of Tortoise.