There’s a lot happening in the music world, and we here at Heavy Blog try our very best to keep up with it! Like the vast majority of heavy music fans, our tastes are incredibly vast, with our 3X3s in each Playlist Update typically covering numerous genres and sometimes a different style in each square. While we have occasionally covered non-metal topics in past blog posts, we decided that a dedicated column was warranted in order to more completely recommend all of the music that we have been listening to. Unmetal Monday is a bi-weekly column which covers noteworthy tracks and albums from outside the metal universe, and we encourage you all to share your favorite non-metal picks from the week in the comments. As is tradition, we’ll be highlighting a few albums and tracks that struck our fancy over the past few weeks. Head past the jump to dial down the distortion:
Serengeti – AJAI
In the last few years, the sub-genre known as “abstract” or “art” rap/hip-hop has been blowing up. Focusing on topics like philosophy, politics, state of mind, or magic realism, this genre, spearheaded by artists like Open Mike Eagle, this genre paints a different picture of the world than traditional hip-hop. And yet, it also has much in common with it, both in music and in lyrical content. Your identity, where you’re from, success, failure, and more are all topics which are prevalent in traditional rap and also make up a good chunk of the content in “art” rap, albeit from a different direction.
Serengeti has been music in this area, both as producer and as artist, for the last two decades or so (and also calls Open Mike Eagle a personal friend). He explicitly works in contrast to traditional hip-hop/rap, trying to infuse it with a new spirit and style. On his latest release, AJAI, he definitely manages to do both. Weaving through ideas like storytelling (on the bewitching “summary” for example) the fashion community (the word “drops” is used multiple times on the album and stores like Kith are also referenced), politics (sprinkled throughout the album but also very present on “ajai end”), the album paints a rich tapestry of the world and the people in it.
Add in a Kenny Segal production job, one of the producers to be associated with the art rap movement, and you’ve got AJAI, a dexterous, interesting, and often charming rap album. If you’ve never heard art rap, it might be a good entry point; serengeti’s deft agility on it, in both execution and lyricism, is a big selling point for the genre as a whole. If you’re already a fan of the style, then this album has much to draw you to it, as it features all the important element of a great album in the style, namely great lyrics, varied flow, and a general attitude to the world that’s hard to pin down.