Serengeti - Kenny Dennis LP (LP + Download Card)
You don’t want to mess with Kenny Dennis. Even at the age of 50, the bratwurst downing, Brian Dennehy-worshipping rapper can run a mile in 4:14. The KDz remains the most feared slugger on the softball diamond. And he can still take Nitro from American Gladiators on in a game of Powerball. That’s just Kenny. This is the Kenny Dennis LP, the sequel to last year’s self-titled EP. Released on Anticon, it furthers Serengeti’s hilarious, absurdist, and subtly humane saga of a Chicago-born man with a Mike Ditka mustache, whose lovable delusions and diehard loyalty fall somewhere between Homer Simpson and a Bill Swerski Superfan.
Lest you mistake Serengeti for a joke artist, 2011’s Family & Friends and 2012’s C.A.R. found the prolific Chicagoan writing some of the most self-deprecating and sorrowful looks at addiction and image transformation in recent memory. He’s collaborated with celebrated underground artists like Sufjan Stevens, Matthewdavid, and Yoni Wolf of Why? Robert Christgau, the dean of American music critics, has given all but one of his records “A” scores and openly wondered: “Is there anyone else who can do this?”
But there’s only one Kenny Dennis and he’s back to give you some direction—straight up, no O’ Doul’s chaser. The Kenny Dennis LP is full of jewels of wisdom, the tender love story Kenny and his wife Jueles, and the longtime friendship between Kenny and Ders (Anders Holm from Workaholics, a Kenny fan who appears in four skits). The beats come from Odd Nosdam and cast a similarly bizarro re-working of boom-bap, blending rugged beat breaks, sci-fi synths, and scratches courtesy of Jel Kenny Dennis might be “normal,” but Serengeti’s creativity is unrivaled. As bizarre as it is brilliant, it’s like the deranged comic vision of an imaginary super group comprised of Andy Kauffman, Mellow Gold-era Beck, and MF Doom.
The raps on The Kenny Dennis LP are stream-of-consciousness rants about how if you “like it, you bang ‘em,” (“Bang Em”), which Kenny translates into a metaphor about how you got to get up and do something. He also denies being a vegan. “Punks” finds him mumbling disses aimed at everyone from imaginary rivals to professional wrestler, Leaping Lanny Poffo. “Crush ‘Em” finds Kenny breaking down the inventions of the English (boxing, tennis golf) vs. those of Americans (football, beef, leg stockings).