Last month, Milwaukee hip-hop’s pedigree improved mightily when Rory Ferreira (or “Milo”) returned from Los Angeles, where the glut of his Hellfyre Club co-collaborators are based, after about seven months away from the Midwest. Also serving to bolster and artistically broaden a city whose rap scene is already in the midst of a Renaissance of sorts with his escape from L.A. is Ferreira’s good friend and California roommate Alexander Kollman, who cut his teeth in Milwaukee under his “Safari Al” moniker.
Though Kollman didn’t quite hit his goal of staying out west an entire year, he says he returned to Milwaukee with a newfound sense of confidence. “I feel like going to L.A. was putting some skin in the game,” Kollman says. “When you put yourself out like that and expose yourself in that way, it steels you. After coming back home, I feel unshakable.”
Beyond the new perspective he now totes, he also brought back enough new material for two Safari Al releases. The first EP, restless, was put out when Kollman was still in California. The latter, fear, uncertain, was released this morning. Though both EPs were recorded around the same time and in the same place, Kollman says each release embodies an entirely different mindset. The latest finds the ethereal emcee bordering on R&B at times, with a level of maturity never realized in previous releases.
“The titles are pretty self-explanatory. When we got to L.A., Rory had to go on tour immediately. When he was gone, I made restless very fast in his absence. fear, uncertain deals with the titular themes, also. It’s an experiment in a different style of song-making. All the songs are pretty short, there’s more form—verse, chorus, verse, hooks. It’s catchier,” Kollman says.
He feels both of the six-song releases are a step past his previous work, which he considers to be somewhat “overly-dramatic” in retrospect. New York-based producers noah b and tindegram contributed to fear, uncertain. The Safari Al return EP is only available digitally for the time being, but Kollman intendeds to sell cassettes at upcoming shows. There’s no release show planned at this time. Welcome back, Al.