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Catching up with Serengeti, performing at the Mill on August 17


Serengeti
Serengeti’s latest album, The Kenny Dennis LP, has garnered high praise since its release earlier this year.

Serengeti w/ Romulan, Is Home Is

The Mill – August 17 at 9:00 p.m. ($8)

Through the skillful layering of references to various touchstones of Chicago culture, rapper Serengeti crafts a lyrical landscape in which his somewhat bizarre, yet ultimately relatable characters come to life. The rapper has stayed true to his absurdist sense of humor and lapses into stream-of-consciousness-style prose, and the Kenny Dennis EP and subsequent LP exemplify his growth as an artist.

Serengeti has previously toured with Why? (Yoni Wolf produced his 2011 album Family & Friends) and collaborated with Son Lux and Sufjan Stevens. In the lead up to his show at the Mill alongside Romulan and Is Home Is on August 17, Serengeti shared a few of his thoughts with Little Village over email:

Little Village: Have you always been fascinated with Chicago culture or was that something you became more interested in at a later point in your life? Have your feelings about Chicago changed over time?

Serengeti: We’ll, I’m from Chicago and never thought much of it. It wasn’t until I traveled did I realize that Chicago had a thing. A thing that other places don’t have. I used to feel stuck in Chicago and can’t wait to get out, and now I can’t wait to return.

LV: Some have described your lyrics as having a stream of consciousness quality, and as a performer you have a natural and playful style that makes it seem as though the words are just spontaneously flowing through you. At the same time, your songs are very complexly structured and well crafted, which suggests that there is a lot of care taken in perfecting your work. For most writers it is difficult to pull both of those things off at once but you manage it quite well. How do you go about writing songs? Do you have a particular writing process?

S: Thanks for saying this. My process is that these phrases will come in my head and I’ll have to write them down or it’ll keep me up. Used to be bothersome a bit when I’d be up all night and have to get up for work but I welcome it now. I used to write a lot on the commute to work and at work, I like to do two jobs, I wrote a lot of my stuff at a job or headed to a job. I think I need a job to do the stuff, just an up and down gig.

LV: It can be difficult for artists to have successful careers in the music industry without sacrificing creative control over their work. How have you managed to build a music career while staying true to your own creative pursuits? Do you have any advice for artists who are starting out?

S: It’s all in fun, everyone has to sacrifice something. I’ve sacrificed a lot. I don’t know any advice, I just worked jobs and did this stuff.


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