Serengeti's DENNEHY: the Kenny Dennis Chronicles Part 1

Serengeti's beloved breakout art rap cult classic is finally out on vinyl 11 years after its initial release!

peace innernets! tragedy struck my group of friends recently & i've ghosted back a bit to regroup...

getting back into the swing of things now to rep the long-awaited, first ever vinyl pressing of one of my favorite albums, Dennehy!

i gravitate to the weirder side of things so it's no wonder that Chicago's SERENGETI is one of my all-time favorite hip hop emcees, though he exists in more musical realms than just the one. not for most boom-bap rap purists, 'Geti is an oddball stylistic chameleon with a zeal for experimentation and a hilarious wit, a king of the art rap/ 'alternative'/indie/underground sound. a massive fan of the man's work, i've got grips of his CDs, vinyl & tapes so we'll be revisiting him plenty on this blog later; he's dropped albums with Why's Yoni Wolf, formed a supergroup called Sisyfus with Sufjan Stevens & Son Lux, and has released records with anticon, Graveface, Joyful Noise, MF Grimm's Day By Day, DJ Crucial's F5 Records and now Fake Four Inc.! while Serengeti has a surplus of excellent LPs, he is most beloved for one in particular, 2006's Dennehy which emblazoned him in our hearts forever. 11 years later, Fake Four has given it the proper vinyl treatment its always deserved. on Dennehy, Serengeti took the storytelling aspect of hip hop to a whole new level, creating characters and enthusiastically embodying them down to the details on tracks like a method actor, especially in the case of the life of KENNY DENNIS, the star of the show. peep the classic title track as we proceed...

playing a character is nothing new to hip hop, it's part of the DNA of the culture; individuals become someone else when they don their emcee name and its inherent persona to varying degrees. Kool Keith is an especially notable pioneer in developing characters in his raps with his array of multiple personalities like Dr. Octagon, Dr. Doom, Matthew, Black Elvis, etc., or M.F. DOOM, from his Zev Love X transition into the Metal Faced Villain, or Madlib as the cartoon Quasimoto. however with Dennehy, Serengeti went deeper into that writing style than perhaps anyone before him in rap; the album is split between at least 3 personas, 2 of them flushed out creations of his imagination, Kenny Dennis & Derek, the other being the 'Serengeti' rapper dude voice. Kenny Dennis is basically one of those guys on that nineties Saturday Night Live* skit with George Wendt & Chris Farley playing overweight mustached Chicagoan beer swilling sports fans howling about "Da Bears" &"Da Bulls". Serengeti creates Kenny's entire universe on this record (flushing it out on later releases which we'll come back to in a later post); his wife Jueles smokes Kools, favorite actor= Dennehy, favorite drink= O'Douls, his car= new Dodge with a Fiero stashed in the garage, vacations: (Wis)'consin, chicken: Swansons. Brotwursts & Berenger flicks on Laserdisc for life. While Kenny is the most beloved 'Geti persona let us not also forget Derek, the snobby emo hipster on meth who listens to U.K. garage on his iPod whose tales are weaved into the revolving perspectives of the Kenny & 'Geti characters which gives the album a unique and varied flow that transcends it from novelty territory to a truly multifaceted listening experience. before we get into the new vinyl pressing, here are images of the 2006 CD on Bonafyde Recordings with design by Novem Studios & the 2015 cassette by Hope For The Tape Deck with art by Stephen Cort Smith (limited to 100, i have #66):

while Dennehy has long been one of my favorite albums, it had fallen by the wayside for me since i couldn't play it on vinyl or tape until the 2015 cassette release, since those are the only formats i listen to music on at my crib. the tape got me bumping it again, and i wasn't surprised at all that it hadn't become dated; its a timeless one for me that i doubt i'll ever tire of. however it still desperately needed a vinyl pressing, though as such a random cult-classic underground type release i never really had much hope of it happening. fortunately since doing the anticon releases & then working with Sufjan Stevens, Serengeti's stock went up with him getting seen in a bigger spotlight. plus emcees inspired by him like Open Mike Eagle gaining popularity probably peripherally helped too.

finally, the loyal cult of the 'Geti King was rewarded by Fake Four Inc. this month with the first-ever vinyl of Dennehy, cut on beaut cloudy transparent/ opaque black color-in-color 2LP gatefold with an unrelated/ unheard EP, Beautyman, included as bonus D-side, and bundles available with shirts, enamel pins & the limited Derek bonus cassette to boot! cover art by Andrew McAlpine. this release is extremely limited so don't sleep, peep the beautiful bundle:

cop yr Dennehy bundle or vinyl from Fake Four now while you still can! in my many years working in the underground hip hop niche i found that the music in general started lacking a healthy sense of humor some time ago; the keep-it-real and thugged out aesthetics that came after the culture's more playful beginnings had largely killed off that approach. what is out there for funny hip hop can much of the time be corny, a novelty or immature; personally i can't really fox with most music with a goofy aesthetic though i love to laugh; it can be hilarious as long as it's still good music that stands on its own. i love The Dead Milkmen but hate Weird Al Yankovich, if that elucidates my point better haha. i'm going to wrap it up here now since we'll revisit the genius of Serengeti many more times on aroniousarts. was gonna hit you guys with a bunch of my favorite quotes from the album, but its really best experienced by listening, on repeat, so do yrself a favor and visit, or revisit, this art rap weirdo masterwork. you could use a good laugh. i leave you with this absolutely awesome image, which is a pictographic representation of every word spit on the top-tier title track of the album... fucking incredible! image by Stunt Rocks; picture is of my t-shirt version copped at a show, but its (currently) available as a print from 'Geti here.

Favorite actor Dennehy. Favorite drink O'Douls. Bears. Hawks. Sox. Bulls.

Ceschi x a_ronious art: the Forgotten Forever covers

in the spring of 2016 i was blessed to be involved in the Forgotten Forever project for the uber-talented musical force Ceschi Ramos, the one man band! it channeled some of the best art i've ever done so i've been looking forward to having it posted all together like this! if yr not familiar with Ceschi, he's one of the best performers you'll ever see, immediately winning over new fans with each show he plays, which is what cemented my love for his music some years back when i was working for UndergroundHipHop.com, after being put onto his tunes by the homies k-the-i??? & Shortrock. i think the first time we met was at the UGHH store, for The Outsiders Tour with (if memory serves correct) Sole, Awol One, Dark Time Sunshine, Factor & Sixo? who's to say... it all melds together, i should've kept a better record of my times there!

Ceschi's style is truly unique, mixing hip hop, punk, folk, electronic, metal and more into his own potent blend seasoned with memorable, hard hitting & poetic lyricism over skilled instrumentation delivered with passionate performances intended to make the audience feel something real. he's put out a grip of classic records on his own label, Fake Four Inc., but had a bunch of great tracks that didn't fit onto any albums that he however didn't want to be forgotten or unheard, so Forgotten Forever was born. French indie label Cooler Than Cucumbers pressed but 100 copies of this compilation on vinyl & then Ceschi had artists each make a series of 10, 1-of-a-kind record sleeves to house them in, using paint, collage, etc. they were then sold only by auction, the first half in Europe and the second on eBay here in the states. i had the extreme honor of being able to do ten of these covers, which were auctioned off starting in late August of 2016. here are the 10 records, in a chronological slideshow. more on the process used after the drop:

the process i used for these covers involved old, but in-good-condition record sleeves, white spray paint, black ink, painter's tape, razor blades & spray gloss. i scored the old vinyl from local thrift stores & record spots plus my own stash of trash wax & my homie Esh's old cache of LPs for sampling. first i applied the tape to utilize sections of the original albums' cover art i wanted to build the piece around; after that was taped off, i then spray painted the rest white with the more expensive glossy stuff (i experimented with various brands and colors before finding the right fit for the ink - i wanted to do the second half of the series on silver backgrounds but it didn't work out). after that was dry, i went in with my Acee's Witches Brew black ink (i am not sponsored in any way but oh haaaii Acee's waaas good?!). Witches Brew is one of my favorite materials to experiment with - hand-made kettle-cooked black ink with tons of character that is best applied with the included dauber which is an unbeatable instrument for expressive strokes & abstract expressionist type art especially. i've used this ink for many years, but have turned to it much especially in the past few, as a reaction against all the multi-colored work i do - balance is key!

after applying an abstract pattern with the Witches Brew ink dauber & letting it dry, i then peeled off the painter's tape with an xacto blade, revealing the pieces of the original cover art. the unexpected/surprise element of unveiling in that step was one of the most enjoyable parts of the process, not knowing how it all would look until that moment. then i integrated the original cover art sections back into the composition with a little more Witches Brew added around the edges. later the covers were all spray-sealed with a UV protective gloss finish. i had never done a project quite like this, so am quite obviously still excited about it all this time later! here are pictures documenting much of the creative process:

i love how the series came out and have carried over many elements developed in this process to the art i've been making since. i also have a couple copies of the vinyl for my own collecsch which still need covers made, so once its warm enough out to spraypaint on my deck i'll eventually be showing you those 2, though they won't ever be for sale...

mad love & infinite gratitude to Ceschi for including me in this project! do yrself a favor and check out his music and/or live show, he makes some timeless music & is one of the best dudes i know. also thanks to Jeremy Sullivan of UGHH for the high-quality LP cover scans. i've done a few other album covers that i'll get on here eventually, that is an area i'd like to explore much more since the intersection of art & music is where my heart lies and something i hope to further illustrate with this blog/website. much more to come!