Eternally productive Chicago rapper Serengeti is back with his THIRD(!) project of 2020, With Greg from Deerhoof. His familiar stream of consciousness delivery and matter-of-fact bars are paired with drumming from, well, Greg Saunier from the indie-rock band Deerhoof, to a really engaging effect.
This combination of versatile rapping and a kaleidoscopic rhythm section is peppered with cinematic and broadway-esque samples throughout the album, and no song is a better example of this than “Yellow Jackets.” These up-tempo instrumentals cater to the anxious lyrics, and the track is a great summary of what makes David Cohn, AKA Serengeti, so great.
According to Serengeti’s bandcamp page, the duo met when Serengeti opened for Deerhoof in 2009, but they didn’t cross paths again until 2018. By chance, they signed up for the same studio session and recorded “I Got your Password,” with no planning or collaboration beforehand.
Pleased with the results of that song, they decided to make a full-length together. Interestingly, the page also recounts the recording process of the album, and how without hearing the track or instrumentals beforehand, Serengeti “would immediately press record and record his verses”.
Coming off the heels of the 17-minute-long track “I Got Your Password”, “Yellow Jackets” is a succinct end to the multi-faceted project. The duo, however, packs a lot into the 1 minute and 45 second runtime. Serengeti has mastered an intense yet still understated style of storytelling, and he wields it to full effect on the track. Through combinations of mundane items, lyrics like “Laptop fans, Laptop magnets, charger cords, foreign coins” and “Where’s your temple, where’s you goin,” the frenetic pace of the track reflects the tense nature of everyday life.
While it’s not based in the soothing spaciousness or spoken word aspects of much of his other acclaimed 2020 albums, like The Gentle Fall, this exciting track is still warm and welcoming. After all, as his bio on Spotify says, “Serengeti wishes you the best.”