Serengeti: A Rap Journey


LJ Coady

LIVE FROM HAMILTON ,NEW YORK: Rapper Serengeti performs selections from his discography in the intimate WRCU studio to an eager group of community members.

Colgate University’s Live Music Collective brought rapper Serengeti to perform in the WRCU Studio on Thursday, Apr. 6. The small and intimate performance was open to all Colgate community members, and a sizable crowd filled the studio.

The performance was memorable and full of raw emotion and passion. Sophomore Gabriel Villamil was at the concert and described the emotional experience he had listening to Serengeti’s set.

“He rapped like I scroll through Instagram posts. He sang like I sing my soul out in my car when a minor inconvenience happens,” Villamil said, highlighting the poetic nature of the performance.

Serengeti, whose real name is David Cohn, is an Illinois native who’s been rapping for over ten years. Over the last decade, he has released 14 albums that have a distinctive style he’s developed throughout his career. His music is filled with references to his life and his communities, pulling from other music genres and evolving with every album created. 

Serengeti gave a brief backstory at the beginning of the performance, explaining his musical journey and breaking down the itinerary for the night. 

“I started [making music] after college,” Serengeti explained. “Afterwards I did a lot of projects, so now I’m here to present some of my stuff on this iPod […] I’ll just play a variety of things from all the stuff I’ve done over the years.”

The artist performed selections from various songs he’s recorded, switching through styles and albums and showcasing his wide lyrical range. His large and diverse discography notwithstanding, Serengeti struck the crowd with his honesty and openness, even admitting that he was “very nervous” about the performance.

As the performance progressed, he visibly relaxed and leaned into the music. The show was electric, with Serengeti running through his catalog effortlessly. His vocals were choppy and abrupt at times, but that only underscored his emotional connection with the music. As listeners nodded along to the music, it was clear that Serengeti’s affability overcame any awkwardness the otherwise clunky moments in the set would have had.

After watching Serengeti’s concert, Sophomore Leila Bekaert commented on how much she enjoyed the show and expressed interest in following Serengeti’s career in the future.

“You never know what’s going to happen at a live music event but I was pleasantly surprised by Serengeti,” Bekaert said. “It was so fun to go to a performance where the artist was just down to earth and a cool guy. I love seeing an authentic musician and I will definitely be checking out his new music.”

Compared to past performances at Colgate featuring larger artists like T-Pain and Echosmith, Serengeti’s show was unpolished and simple, with just a few speakers and mood lighting to set the scene. However, the paired-back set-up complemented Serengeti’s performance style and made the experience feel special in a way larger concerts can’t. The whole experience felt classically “college,” for which many listeners expressed their appreciation.

Sophomore Anna Miksis, who also attended the performance, loved the informal and cozy atmosphere in WRCU that Serengeti created with his music and sporadic short monologues. 

“It felt like a quintessential liberal arts college experience — a down to Earth and intimate live performance. I had a lovely time,” Miksis said.