Yoni Wolf and David Cohn have helped to shape and influence the sound of underground hip-hop as we know it. Under their respective creative monikers of Why? and Serengeti, the two artists have collaborated with several other artists on numerous projects. Yoni & Geti is their current joint effort, with a new album called Testarossa. Wolf was in the seminal alternative hip-hop group Clouddead and a co-founder of the renowned hip-hop label Anticon. Under the name Why?, Wolf also has a well-known experimental indie-rock band, and Cohn has done albums with Odd Nosdam, Jel, Hi-Fidel, Sufjan Stevens and Tobacco.
Cohn first worked with Wolf on his 2011 solo album, Family & Friends. But his connection with Anticon began when Cohn released a song called “Dennehy” in 2006. The song made the rounds in the underground rap world, and Doseone and Jel contacted Cohn regarding doing some music with Anticon.
Before becoming part of any rap world, Cohn had been driving delivery trucks for Budweiser and paying for studio time to record various ideas because he had no equipment. Around the time of the release of “Dennehy," when that song became a bit of an underground phenomenon, Cohn started collaborating with another hip-hop artist called Polyphonic. But it was “Dennehy” that opened the doors for Cohn, and he went on to release a trio of albums focusing on a character named Kenny Dennis.
“[Kenny Dennis] sort of came about because my other stuff was heavy, trying to overcome teenage angst,” says Cohn. “So one day this Kenny Dennis character just popped in. [It was] just what I needed. Some dude that wasn't me and rapping as somebody else — Kenny Dennis. I got his whole world in one instant, and that Budweiser delivery-truck stuff really just came in handy, and I got to pull from all those experiences: waking up early, the hard work and the 'Come on, come on' and being on time and being confident. It was the exact opposite of my earlier stuff, which was full of doubt. This character was the perfect way to have some fun.”
The most recent Kenny Dennis album, Kenny Dennis III, came out in 2014; Cohn doesn't think he'll do another album in character that way, or any other character-oriented album. However, the recently released Yoni & Geti album Testarossa involves more than a little of its own role-playing, born out of long trips on tour in a car together.
“Me and Yoni did these gentlemen's tours,” says Cohn. “We could drive across the country, and it's really relaxed, and we do some shows, and it's fun. Through all this time, we're always talking, and we came up with this script, this sort of movie idea about a traveling musician and all of his travels, and he'll mess up the family and be gone for three months at a time, so the wife tries to move on, but every now and then he'll send a gift back home and put everything into some upheaval — 'Daddy sent a gift!' One of those gifts was this Testarossa, this model car. Yoni wrote this script, but it didn't work out, but we got together and did this sort of soundtrack for the script.”
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The tour features a four-piece band with live instrumentation, as well as electronics and rapping. Yoni & Geti is designed to have a limited life as a performing project, and as fate would have it, the last performance of the project and its one and only album is scheduled for the show at Larimer Lounge in Denver.
“This is the final one we're doing, maybe ever, so if anybody wants to see it, this'll be the time,” says Cohn.
Yoni & Geti with Killdby and Tommy Metz, Saturday, July 30, 9 p.m., at Larimer Lounge.