Like combining chocolate with bacon or potato chips with soft serve ice cream, this strange collaboration between Chicago rapper Serengeti, New York producer Son Lux, and the elusive, genre defying indie prodigy, Sufjan Stevens doesn’t seem like it would work on the surface. But, put aside your skepticism and you will realize that it is oddly delightful and fascinating to listen to. The variety of beats and textures and the pairing of Serengeti’s witty, unconventional rapping with Sufjan’s dreamy singing coalesce to create a diverse album that will surely satisfy music fans with slightly offbeat tastes and cravings.
While the album is marked by a fair amount of dissonance and clashing styles, it manages to come across as playful and charming rather than jarring or inaccessible. And while they present some powerful lyrical themes, the three artists make it clear that they do not take themselves too seriously at all, a stance which is evident right from the bouncy opening track, “Calm It Down.” The overall vibe of the album may be one of experimental, freestyle fun, but several of the songs soar to beautiful, majestic heights; namely (and not surprisingly) those that more prominently feature Sufjan’s vocals: “Take Me,” “I Won’t Be Afraid,” and “Hardly Hanging On.”
Sufjan best captures the unlikeliness of this collaborative effort as he explains the origin of the group’s name, saying “We have so little in common but we have deep love for each other and we are pushing that stone together.” Combining their sounds, quirks, and talents to create a cohesive body of work may have seemed like a Sisyphean task, but together they managed to push that stone all the way up the hill, and they pulled off a gem of an album that defies categorization and that continues to surprise and delight with each listen.
Check it out here and support these guys. Hope they tour soon: