Last time we heard from Anticon artist David Cohn, known as Serengeti, it was from his out of the blue collaboration with Sufjan Stevens and composer Son Lux as s/s/s for Beak & Klaw. The unlikely trio drew more attention for Sufjan’s name than it did any actual success as an EP, but yielded some interesting results nonetheless. On that release Serengeti played a pivotal role, providing his vocals over an array of glistening productions. Now, Serengeti is back but on his own with the solo album C.A.R., but unlike the Beak & Klaw release, this really sounds like a product of his own creative mind.
Instead of the glossy beats of s/s/s, the production here is from Anticon OGs Odd Nosdam and Jel, providing a sufficiently weird sound pallet for Serengeti’s free association rap to roam. Lyrically he has a knack for wandering to seemingly unrelated topics without missing a beat, subject-wise in the same vein as Aesop Rock. Actual style and delivery though is far more laid back, like he’s in between consciousness and dreaming, rhyming about whatever pops into his head.
C.A.R. is most successful when the production vibes align with his lazy delivery, which happens for a majority of the first half of the album. “Talk To Me” boasts shuffling production where some of Serengeti’s strongest/weirdest lyricism is found. He references becoming a chauffer, Bon Iver, scuba coaches, James Polk, and Papa Roach in the span of just a few bars. “Amnesia” and “Get Life” succeed for the same reasons, sounding like effortless products created over a sofa and a few beers on a lazy Sunday afternoon.
It turns out, that’s exactly how it happened, too. The trio of Serengeti and producers created C.A.R. in a cottage, basking their surroundings, creating beats and rhymes that eventually became an album. In spite of the short thirty minute run-time things stumble some at the end with short interlude “Say What” and the abrasive “Chill”, where the laid back vibes are traded for a lo-fi crunch that doesn’t quite hit the mark. C.A.R. is short, but it’s dense with intricate lyricism and production. With close, attentive listens the subtle nuances will reveal themselves, but if you blink, C.A.R. will hustle by before you notice.