By Izzy Yellen
There have been quite a few surprise releases this past year. With Death Grips’ “Jenny Death,” Wilco’s “Star Wars,” Tyler, the Creator’s “CHERRY BOMB” and several others, this unexpected music has kept me and many other listeners on our toes. One of the most recent surprises occurred this past week—Perfecto’s dance-rap and autobiographical album, “You Can’t Run From the Rhythm.”
A bit of background—Perfecto is made up of three fictional characters, rappers Kenny Dennis and Ders backed by DJ Rafal. These are played by Serengeti, aka David Cohn, Anders Holm of TV show Workaholics and The Unknown DJ, respectively. Serengeti is known for his universe of characters, most notably Kenny Dennis, Perfecto’s self-proclaimed front man. In “Kenny Dennis III,” which was released in 2014, the listener learns of the strange but caring friendship between Dennis and Ders, who go on to make Perfecto. While most of his other albums tell stories, “You Can’t Run” is meant to be an album released by the band, showing the culmination of the members’ creativity and motivations. It is highly suggested one listens to the preceding stories to fully appreciate this meta work of art.
However, if one does not, they will most likely just hear a cheesy, synth-based hip-house album that lacks in substance (save for the last song which I will discuss later). The first five tracks are chock full of decent—at best—raps, over-the-top synthesizers and ‘90s-sounding vocal samples. Compared to Serengeti’s other albums that delve into the complexities of relationships and inner demons, the subject matter of “You Can’t Run” is not important at all; it is just many ways of talking about dancing in a club.
But with the knowledge of Serengeti’s bizarre universe and Kenny Dennis’ previous projects, the album is an incredible blend of humorous satire and a new layer of character development. In “Kenny Dennis III,” the listener can visualize the characters’ development as this band is formed, but not much of the music is actually heard. The two friends’ stories unravel via speaking and rapping over typical Serengeti beats, but one does not get a full taste of this group they are in.
This new album gave me that taste in an extremely concentrated dose. Within an hour of hearing about the surprise release, I dove into the album somewhat knowing what to expect. I knew they did it in character, but even that did not fully prepare me. It is stupid, way too catchy and ridiculous, but I love it. It added so much more complexity and completeness to the Kenny Dennis story, which can go in any direction at this point.
The last song is a 17-minute origin story told by DJ Rafal, the closest kind of track to the Serengeti we know and love. I will not spoil the ending, but the contrast it has with the rest of the album is refreshing. It is exciting to know we may learn more about this character in the future.
While most of this album can not be taken seriously, it was great to hear from Serengeti again. It is obvious the Kenny Dennis story does not stop here. As a listener, I can only imagine where it will go. In the meantime, get out on the dance floor and jam to some Perfecto.