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Serengeti - conducted by Todd E. Jones  

Getting Mad Whimsy With Serengeti

March 2005

MVRemix: What are some producers you would like to collaborate with in the future?

Serengeti: DJ Premier. Large Professor is phat. I like The Neptunes.

MVRemix: What is the biggest mistake you made in your career?

Serengeti: I don’t think I made any. I think it is going the way it is supposed to go. There was this time where we got kicked off this tour. We did a tour with Hierospecs, a band from Minneapolis. We were supposed to go on this thirty day tour but they replaced us.

MVRemix: What is hip-hop lacking these days?

Serengeti: Flavor. Everybody is doing the same thing. Everybody in the underground is complaining about commercial hip-hop. All this commercialism is bad in my opinion, but the underground is so grimy. Everybody in the underground is battling. There is no flavor. It is the same old sh*t in both the underground and in commercial hip-hop.

MVRemix: Word association time. I’m going to say the name of an artist or group, and you say the first word that comes to your head. So, if I said ‘Public Enemy’, you may say ‘revolution’. Okay?

MVRemix: 50 cent.

Serengeti: Rich.

MVRemix: Eminem.

Serengeti: Angry.

MVRemix: Wu-tang Clan.

Serengeti: Legends.

MVRemix: Dead Prez.

Serengeti: Revolutionary.

MVRemix: Phife Dawg of A Tribe Called Quest.

Serengeti: One of my favorites.

MVRemix: Ugly Duckling.

Serengeti: Never listened to them.

MVRemix: Atmosphere.

Serengeti: Many fans.

MVRemix: Curtis Mayfield.

Serengeti: 70’s.

MVRemix: Gil-Scott Heron.

Serengeti: Drugs.

MVRemix: George Bush.

Serengeti: The President.

MVRemix: There are many drug references in your music. Do you smoke weed or dabble in drugs?

Serengeti: Weed is crazy man. I used to love weed about 5 years ago. Every time I smoked weed now, I would get paranoid. It would turn a fine situation into an uncomfortable situation. You start thinking too much. The sh*t is supposed to make you laugh and have fun but, it makes it worse. I have this song on ‘Gasoline Rainbows’ called ‘Maria’, which is this anti-weed song. It talks about how everybody talks about how much they love weed. It’s a dope song.

MVRemix: What are some of your favorite television shows?

Serengeti: I like sports. I love boxing. I like The Cubs. As far as TV sitcoms, I liked ‘Degrassi Junior High’ when I was growing up. Spike! The Zit Remedy! They have this new one now. Joey is a teacher and Snake is the principal.

MVRemix: What are some of your favorite movies?

Serengeti: I really love ‘Bloodsport’. I can watch that movie over and over again. I watch ‘City Of God’. It takes place in Brazil.

MVRemix: Where were you on September 11th 2001, the terrorist attack? How did you deal with it? How do you think it has affected hip-hop?

Serengeti: I was in Carbondale, Illinois. My ex-girlfriend died. She died like a month ago. She didn’t die on September 11th. On September 11th, I was just watching it. When it happened, I thought that rappers would never rap about violence again because the public wouldn’t want it. We witnessed this horrific act of violence. From that moment on, there would be no more talk of killing people on rap songs. That is how I thought it would change. Now, all the rap sh*t is still bullsh*t. It is like some evil trick. The whole Black music, in general, gets me down. Let’s say you are driving your car and you are trying to bob to the music, but then, you think, ‘What am I listening to?’ The rappers are like ‘I need a soldier!’ They also talk about getting a chick, who you have to buy all this sh*t for, but she eventually f*cks everybody else. It’s disgusting. Nobody seems to care. That pimp named Don Magic Juan is in rap videos and on commercials now. This dude is a pimp! He smacks women and makes teenager girls sell their *sses. He’s on TV and everybody is like ‘Look at him!’ They clap for him. It is like the same jig act. It really gets to me, but obviously, it does not get to a lot of people.

MVRemix: What was the last incident of racism you experienced?

Serengeti: I guess it was yesterday. I was standing at a bus stop and these dudes asked me for a bag of weed. I don’t know if it was racism or they just thought I was a drug dealer. Isn’t racism supposed to hold you back?

MVRemix: What are some classic songs you may like to remake or update?

Serengeti: I don’t think I would remake anything. Maybe, ‘The Gas Face’ by 3rd Bass. Kwame had this song ‘Only You’. I was into Kwame when I was growing up.

MVRemix: What are the best things about living in Chicago?

Serengeti: Sports! I love the early summer or late spring. Also, the grid of streets. The streets are a perfect grid. Chicago has an abundant amount of parks. It is so segregated though. That is what I hate about Chicago.

MVRemix: What is the biggest misconception people have of you?

Serengeti: That I’m all into drugs.

MVRemix: What does the name Serengeti mean to you? How did you come up with the name?

Serengeti: I don’t know when I first came up with it or when it first clicked. It seems like it has been forever that I have been named Serengeti. To me, when I first came up with it, I thought it sounded cool. When I thought about it, it was nice. The Serengeti desert has everything on it. It has jungles, deserts, and more. There are these jungle areas. I think it has like 4 different parts. There is this dry area. It has everything on it. I consider myself and my personality like that.

MVRemix: When did you first start rhyming?

Serengeti: When I was 16 years old.

MVRemix: When did you first begin making songs that were not hip-hop?

Serengeti: When I was 20, I started working on ‘Gasoline Rainbows’. This album has been a thorn in my side. Seriously, I spent like $10,000 in studio time. When I made the first version, I sent it out to record companies. I was so naďve. I thought that there would be a bidding war. Nobody ever called back. Years later, I finally got it done. It should come out on April 4th 2005.

MVRemix: What is the meaning behind the title ‘Gasoline Rainbows’?

Serengeti: The title ‘Gasoline Rainbows’ is like something that looks pretty but it is really foul, disgusting, and vile. It seems nice.

MVRemix: Do you have a favorite song on ‘Gasoline Rainbows’?

Serengeti: Yeah, ‘Maria’ or ‘This World’. Day By Day will be releasing the follow up album too. The title track is crazy.

MVRemix: Any advice for up and coming emcees?

Serengeti: Do something original. I don’t know about you, but when these rap shows come around, it is always the same sh*t. ‘Throw your hands in the air!’ I don’t know. That sh*t is so old to me, yet the crowd loves it. ‘When I say hip, you say hop!’ I don’t know. That makes rap like a dead or muted art-form. Everybody uses the same words. I’m not saying that you have to be revolutionary or that you can’t say anything, but everybody is saying the same exact thing. Nowadays, cats that just started rapping for one month, already have a finished CD, which they are trying to sell by the 2nd month. There isn’t a gestation period.

MVRemix: What can fans expect in the future from Serengeti? What is next for you?

Serengeti: I have ‘Gasoline Rainbows’, coming out on April 4th. I have ‘Noticeably Negro’, coming out on F5, during the summer. It’s a small, indie album. I have one coming out on Day By Day. I have another, after that, called ‘Kalahari Lion’. I also have ‘Brothers Whimsy’, the follow up to ‘Noodle Arm Whimsy’.

MVRemix: Any final words for the people who are reading this?

Serengeti: Check me out.

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"...makes rap like a dead or muted art-form. Everybody uses the same words. I’m not saying that you have to be revolutionary or that you can’t say anything, but everybody is saying the same exact thing. Nowadays, cats that just started rapping for one month, already have a finished CD, which they are trying to sell by the 2nd month. There isn’t a gestation period."