Don’t Give Up – Serengeti & Polyphonic

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The hip-hop heads that have deemed themselves rap music’s gatekeepers stand with arms folded, pushingaside beats and rhymes that don’t fit the accepted blueprint. With that in mind, Serengeti & Polyphonic probably won’t make it past the gate, and that’s a shame. Recordings like this only come when you color outside the lines, and Serengeti’s life has had its share of fringe moments.

Confessions and recollections appear as a series of adolescent pains, hindsight realizations, and rocky relationships. To emphasize his loner status, Serengeti quips “I never fit, like C-cups and D-tits” on “Mom’s A Commie.” On the title track, a dark and distorted drum sequence is tapped out under an MC’s remembrances of “shell toes, favorite group was Mobb Deep / I have this image of you smoking weed and listening to The Streets.”

Serengeti finds a kindred spirit in producer Polyphonic, whose instrumentals are dressed in glitchy regalia and range from the danceable techno of “Waste Of Time” to the cello-soaked sadness of “2 Times 2.” The gatekeepers will scoff and label it “emo-rap,” but it is the album’s naked truth and transparency that makes it immediately noticeable in today’s rap world. Musically ahead of its time while lyrically speaking in real time, Serengeti & Polyphonic have created an album that will likely get better with age.