Safari Al, “Steppes”

Blake Gillespie

Safari Al

Chicago and Minneapolis get the lionshare of attention in independent hip hop, but there's noise being made on Wisconsin campuses. We've introduced you to Milo and opened the cellardoor to his philosophical rap world. In journeying north we meet Safari Al, a rapper who, yes, named himself after a Calvin & Hobbes comic. Things are nerdier in Wisconsin, but we love them for it.

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Safari Al released his Highlands EP Tuesday. The EP is a six-song collection inspired by Safari Al's two week trip to Guatemala as a member of Engineers Without Borders. He and his fellow engineers traveled to a rural village to build a spring water protection system. Produced by Breakfastsquid and Tom Bombadil, “Steppes” is a journeyman's song that invites followers join for the purpose of lifting one another up. It's the sort of thing often learned on retreats and missions, but Safari Al processes it with a deeper thinking as he admits “these fledgling wings / cannot carry big things / and gravity seems / to be an unbecoming guest”. His delivery is intricately woven in words, but unlike the bane of early Aughts underground rap, he's got command of his verbiage, rather than putting up a front of intelligence.

Safari Al's Highlands EP is out now on Black Chalk Entertainment.

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