Who is Kenny Dennis? He's a 53-year-old, Mike Ditka-loving, mustachioed Chicago lunkhead and rapper who formerly starred in a fictional hip-hop trio. A project that began as a character invented by rapper Serengeti in 2008, Kenny's got an opinion about everything: A man who'll shush loudmouths on the El, who rips up traffic tickets but whose code dictates he pull over to help a stranded motorist.
The fictional Kenny rules this album with an iron fist, and Serengeti conveys a Chicago-accented persona with the skill of an actor while producer Odd Nosdam offers left-field beats that buzz with accomplishment. Between tracks, a friend of Kenny's describes our hero documentary style.
The song "Kenny and Jueles" showcases Kenny whisper-rapping about his wife with touching verses that detail their relationship — playing Scrabble and connecting the word "sausage" to "Polish," watching sports on the couch and drinking hot toddies.
"50th Birthday" recounts Kenny's failed L.A. dinner at a Ruth's Chris Steakhouse to meet Nitro from "American Gladiator." Taken together, the 11 tracks on "Kenny Dennis" feel like chapters, and combine to create a work as accomplished — and entertaining — as a well-imagined graphic novel or confidently told short story.
"Kenny Dennis LP"
Three and a half
Albums are rated on a scale of four stars (excellent), three stars (good), two stars (fair) and one star (poor).